Soviet Post World War II Food Shortges: UNRRA (1940s)

Figure 1.--The ad copy read, "Minsk Food Store: All the food on the shelves of this store is UNRRA food, without which the people of Minsk would have strbed. A Russian woman is shown buying powdered milkfor her child. The only non-UNRRA good in this store are vodka, hamagne and other wines, with vodka selling at 120 roubles a liter ($10 at the diplomatic rate of exchange; $24 at the official rate.) People must have ration cards to buy sugar, at $5 roubes per kilo; butter at 27 roubles; and dried eggs at 50 roubles per kilo. Even with UNRRA food, the people suffer serious nutrional deficiencies. The total UNRRA program [for Minsk] called for 66,000 tins of food, exclusive of flour and wheat. Minsk was in eastern Poland seized by the Soviets while a NAZI ally. after the German Barbarossa offensive, Minsk was part of what one author calls the 'Bloodlands', one of the areas most ravaged and deadly during World War II. The photograph was dated February 12, 1948. This was a critical year of the Cold War. While America was sending food to the Soviet Union, Stalin seized control of Czechoslovakia and used used Soviet tanks to starve out West Berlin

Lend Lease ended with the official Japanese surrender (September 2, 1945). America no longer sw a needto supply militaryequiment, especially to the Sovier Union given its behavior in Germany as part of the four-power ocupation. Lend Lease was, however, not just about military euipment and supplies. America had shipped vast quantities of food to the Soviet Union as part of Lend Lease. And even with the end of the War, the need for food aid did not suddenly change. The Germans had been driven from the Soviet Union, but the damage they did was incredible: people killed, villags burned and farm inrastructure destroyed. The Soviet Union had enormous agricultural potential, but the damages combined with the inefficient collectives meant that it wold be some time before the Soviets could meet domestic demand, let alone fully utilize the potential of some of the richest farm land in the world. And America food shipments did not stop. A third American effort to save millions of Russians had come into existence. President Roosevelt had begun using the term 'United Nations' before the United Nations organization even existed. At the time, the erm meant countries fighting the Axis tryranies. One U.N. agency was created before the United Nations itself--the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The situation for civilians in the captive nations was intolerable. Some managed to escape and as the Allies began to liberate them, UNRRA was tasked with providing relief. And this included the Soviet Union and the captive nations in Eastern Europe. While UNRRA was a U.N. agency almost all the financing as well as the food and other relief supplies came from the United States.


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Created: 10:43 PM 1/21/2018
Last updated: 10:43 PM 1/21/2018