Italian Campaign: Civilians--Basic Necessities (1943-45)

World War II Italian food
Figure 1.--The photo was taken n Ausonia, a village about 140 kms south-east of Rome. The Americans and British at the time were finally breaking theough the German lines and beginning the drive on Rome (May 1944). This family is gathering up cannd GI rations that soldiers moving through the cillage probably tossed them. (Notice the olive green colored cans.) The boy is wearing ciocie. Source: Combat Camera Unit.

Even after the fighting moved north, civilians faced major problems with shelter, food, and water. Where ever the Germans made a stand there was devestation. The Allies used havy artillery and aerial bombing to duslodge the Germans. But even if the town and village was mot destroyed there were severe food shortages. Food was in short supply even before the Allied invasion, in part because so many farm sorkers wre vmobilized. After the invasion, the fighting further disrupted agriculture. In addition the Germans had interned the Italian Army and deported the men to labor camps in the Reich. This meant there was a continuing shortage of farm labor. American food aid prevented starvation, but food was in short supply in both German-controlled northern Italy and Allied-controlled southern Italy. In the north civilians had to fend for themselves because the Germans did nothing to help feed Italy. I'm not sure if they shipped food to the Reich as was their normal occupation practice. We note GI rations appearing in civilan hands in the south. We are not sure to what extent this was black market sales or Army policy. There were large shipments of American food aid. The Germans destroyed basic city services as they retreated north. American and British engineers worked to restore warter and other services. American food aid continued after the War. The Food for Peace was an outgrowth of the Marshall Plan to help rebuild war torn countries. Much of the food in the early years of the program went to Italy, Japan, Germany, Austria, England, and Finland.


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Created: 12:33 PM 9/25/2009
Last updated: 12:33 PM 9/25/2009