No. 260  NAI DFA 219/4

Extracts from a memorandum by William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe
(Dublin) on affairs in Germany, Central and South-Eastern Europe
(Copy) (43/33)

BERLIN, 13 January 1943

The general position in Central Europe is one of increasing difficulty, industrially and from the food point of view. Countries like Hungary and Roumania produce vast quantities of corn, fruit and vegetables, and still have a surplus available for export and sufficient to supply their own and the German armies. Slovakia and Croatia are also fortunate enough to have sufficient food. The remnant of the former Poland now called the Government-General is said to have reached the self-supporting stage after three years of intensive work and organisation under German supervision. The Ukraine has not yet been developed, but is already in a position to supply a certain proportion of the needs of the troops stationed there.

From the food point of view, the weak spots in Central and South Eastern Europe are Germany and Greece. Germany can never hope to produce enough food within her own borders. Before the war it was claimed that Germany was, after some years of great effort, producing 70% of her requirements at home. Since the war the requirements of the civil population are appreciably less than beforehand, as the result of strict rationing, but this reduction is balanced by the demands of the Defence Forces in and outside Germany. One of agriculture's greatest difficulties is the lack of labour, and the comparative scarcity of petrol and oil for tractors and other farm machinery. The railways, overburdened as they are, are doing magnificent work in getting food to the cities, but transport remains a serious problem. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the civil population in Germany is getting enough food to live on, meagre though the amount is. The fat ration is small and full milk is obtainable only by children and sick people. Fruit, too, is scarce. It is suggested that these two factors may tell in the long run, but so far as one can see at present, the food position seems to be assured, and the standard of public health does not seem to be in danger.

Naturally enough, the standard of life in Germany has deteriorated considerably. In view of the longer hours of labour, the workers are earning more money than ever, but they can do nothing with it, as the shops are empty, nor can they travel or spend money in any other way. One notices, for example, that house exteriors are not so well-kept as they used to be; this does not mean that people are losing their traditional German love of cleanliness it is simply because there are neither materials or labour available to keep the houses in order. At the beginning of the war one of the few ways one had of spending money for amusement purposes was to go to the theatre or cinema; both theatres and cinemas are now so crowded that one has to book a long time in advance. The State has initiated a system of 'iron savings', but, so far as one can see, the number of people taking advantage of the scheme is, comparatively speaking, not large. There is a marked tendency to convert ready cash into something concrete, particularly food and clothing (bought at unbelievably high prices in the 'black market'); such things as wireless sets and jewellery, which are practically unprocurable in the ordinary way, are also very popular objects of investment. The 'Black Market' is supplied in the main by soldiers returning from the occupied countries.
[matter omitted]

Conditions in Central Europe and in the Balkans never have been stable, and probably never will be. The people are quite different to us in Western Europe, and we cannot apply our standards, in judging their affairs. It is not so long since two great empires, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, since vanished from the map, used to spend all their energies in keeping the Balkans in a state of continuous unrest, with the old Russian Empire joining in the game as the 'protector of all Slav peoples'. Old feuds with internal, as well as external, foes die hard, and democratic systems of government have, therefore, little hope of ever establishing themselves. Pro-German governments are now in power in all the Balkan countries, and at the moment the position of these governments appears to be assured; a German defeat, however, would undermine their authority, and cast Central and South Eastern Europe into turmoil - indeed into momentary ruin; that is why so many people fear the consequences of a Russian victory. In the event of an Allied victory, the moderating influence of Great Britain and the United States would probably prevent any great changes being made in Western Europe; but what would there be to save Eastern Europe from Bolshevism and all its works? Thinking people all over Europe are asking this question!

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