do not mention the war

The German Potato

In History on March 7, 2018 at 10:00

During World War I the German press and propaganda machine has attempted every trick in the book to raise morale. This leaflet from 1917 addressed German farmers to produce more potatoes as it was hoped that the German potato could make the difference in the war effort.

The German Potato must defeat England

This is the message the leaflet tries to bring across. In order to increase output of spuds the German government offered financial incentives such as 35 Marks for roughly 2500sqm extra area dedicated to potatoes.

To the left and right the leaflet shows the overall area available to provide the vegetable. In 1914 there were 3.38 million hectares available which has shrunk to 2.41 million hectares in 1917. This is a significant decrease and underlines the urgency which with the German government pleaded with the farmers in order to get more crops out of less soil. The effort was in vain as it turned out. Despite the peace agreement with Russia at the Eastern front the war efforts were futile and finally led to the ceasefire which was signed in 1918 and which led to catastrophic developments in the cause of the 20th. century.

The attempt to turn the odds around with potatoes speaks of the desperation of the German government to mobilise anything in order to win the war. What this possibly has achieved however was prolonged fighting and thus more fatalities on both sides of the Western front.

The Great War (in Britain) or the First World War (in Germany) was not decided by the amount of potatoes grown but was decided by the fact that the German has become untenable which led to the ceasefire from November 11, 1918.


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