The Post World War II German Black Market: Background information when reading Then We Take Berlin

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Then We Take Berlin

by John Lawton

Then We Take Berlin
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Beyond the Book:
The Post World War II German Black Market

To say that by the end of World War II Germany was in tatters is a massive understatement. Infrastructure services were at a standstill, craters gaped where centuries-old buildings had once stood, the economy was based upon currency – the Reichsmark – that was essentially worthless. Worse, the government was forced to ration everything from cigarettes to milk. Everything that sustains life was in drastically short supply. Thanks to human ingenuity, however, where there is a demand there is someone willing to step up and become a supplier. This miasma of need proved to be rich soil that nourished an equally rich black market.

Berlin children in rubble.Since the government's system of rationing was based upon earned return for labor performed rather than need, anyone who could work received more rations than, say, a pregnant woman who could not. Thus it was mainly children and the elderly who suffered from what was grimly called "death rations" because no one could survive on the amount of calories ...

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