What is it?
The home front is an informal organisation of all of the civilian people at the time of war. They hardly ever fight themselves but send over supplies and work in the factories that make up the supplies for the war zone and soldiers.
Germany had not fully come together as a home front until the year of 1943 when they finally decided, under the steering of Albert Speer, to redirect most to all of their economic and people power towards the war effort. And yet even then their people would not fully motivate themselves. Millions of people from foreign conquered countries were brought over and forced to work to keep up Germany’s economy and were done so under terrible conditions thus a bad workforce was created with low productivity. Another way the Germans kept up their economy and home front morale would be to plunder passing food ships and take away from conquered countries, that way their population would not go hungry and feel less powerful against their enemies.
The Volksstrum was the German equivalent of the Home Guard in Briton. They were a Nazi made home army initiated by Hitler on October 18th, from 1944-45. The members were all male from the ages of 16 to 60 years old. Men who, like the British Home Guard, were not already active in the military.
They boosted morale although this did not work for long due to their obvious lack of weaponry and uniforms. To make them more effective they were placed under complete control of their local Nazi parties and became largely more nationwide.
A unit of them comprised of: The Hitler Youth, the elderly, invalids and men considered beforehand unfit for military action. A basic unit consisted of 642 men and was known as a battalion.
Kinderlandverschickung der Kinder auf das Land
Evacuation in World War Two Germany was termed as “Kinderlandverschickung der Kinder auf das Land” (KLV) it was the shorter term form of “Verschickung der Kinder auf das Land” which translates as: Relocation of Children to the countryside.
It is thought that 202,000 mum’s along with 347,000 children were sent away to safety by special trains right to the mid point of 1942.
Unlike in Briton evacuation, to begin with, was voluntary. And at first it was only children under 10 allowed to go. It was then stretched to mother’s with children 6 years or below and pregnant women. The children could go with or without siblings (possibly from another age group).
Although it was much later for rationing to be introduced into Germany than Briton it was still of the upmost importance…later on. Rationing began in 1939, only later than in Briton because of Adolf Hitler’s worry that by showing a weakness in resources it would not only shatter the morale of his people but break the illusion that the Nazi’s were good for Germany. Their main support from people came from the fact that under the Nazi rule Germany had grown largely more prosperous. But by showing rations needed to be introduced – although they needed to be – would have shown up the power of the Nazi party, Hitler and lost them a lot of faith. Hitler also felt, and was probably right in feeling, that morale was mainly lost in WW1 due to food and other shortages of the most basic of needs.
It was a war and yet even on rations the Germans were well fed. Their meat ration alone was 500g. And it took up to (June) 1941 during/after the german invasion of the Soviet Union for anything to get dire. The meat became 400g and for the first time the Germans were undernourished. Less food was given to Jewish and Polish people unless (for the latter) they were sent to work industrially. Industrial workers always received more for their heavy duty work. This being said from 1939-1948 meat could not be eaten everyday. And such luxuries as whipped cream, cakes and chocolate simply disappeared.
Changing Role of Women
During the time of Nazi Germany the role of women was very clear under the idealism of Hitler. From their early stages of life women were taught how to be good mother’s, wives and to bring up the next generation. They were encouraged to marry early in their young lives and have children for the following Nazi generations.
In 1933 Hitler passed the “Law for the Encouragement of Marriage”. It allowed newly married couples to receive 1000 marks (about 9 months of income) in loan and if one child was born 25% of that loan did not need to be paid back two children meant 50% and four meant none of the loan needed to be paid back.
The British Home front began in May 1940 as Winston Churchill was absolutely convinced that the war could not be won without the solid assistance of the British people. By the 14th that month the Home guard was formed to protect the island of Briton while the more agile young men fought overseas. By September that same year as the Blitz spread a united fear across the people it also spread a strong feeling of patriotism, togetherness and strength to pull through together no matter what.
From 1940 to 1944 the Home guard was the home defence ‘army’ for the British. They were active from the 14th of May 1940 to the 3rd of December 1944 – although their official disbandment was not until the the 31st of December 1945.
It was famously coined “Dad’s Army” because the main reason that those who belonged to it were not allowed into the official army was due to their age – either being too young or too old – usually the latter. And so it was filled with many old father’s and grandfather’s.
They were stationed around: the coastal areas of Briton; airfields; factories; explosive stores ; etc. The Home guard was made up of purely volunteering men. By the end of the war they had amounted to 1.5 million volunteers.
To begin with, just as with the “Volksstrum”, they were badly equipped and their main job was only to observe and report in the enemy. Not to lay a finger on them. Soon though all of this changed: they were equipped with shotguns, old guns and pitchforks – still a very sorry sight – and patrols were made frequently. They always wore an armband that stated in large capital letters LDU if ever they were out of their uniforms.
On September 1st, 1939, in England over 3.5 million people were evacuated. That included small children and 100,000 teachers, there to protect them. Evacuation began two days previous to the war, although it was officially announced the day before then – August 31st 1939.
Though evacuation was vital many did not want to leave their homes. And so in the first waves of evacuation only 1/3 of mum’s and 47% of the school children actually left for their destinations of safety.
Children evacuated between 4-33% were highly stressed and terrified. This caused havoc for their hosts and many children suffered from the stress triggered symptom called enuresis (which is the inability to control ones own urination).
England’s rations began the same year’s as Germany’s but earlier in September. The first thing to be rationed was petrol, a much needed commodity – especially for the military. The next year, only five months after the first ration, in the eighth of January: butter, bacon and sugar were rationed. And then followed the conveyor belt of ration schemes for: meat, team jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk and the famous canned or dried fruit. By 1942 most foods were on ration schemes, bar bread and vegetables.
All of the rationing above created a black market. And those who ran it were known as Spivs. The most common and popular items on the black market were food products such as canned meat and eggs as well as alcohol, car and truck parts nylon stockings and cigarettes. By the year of 1942 many children of the ages of 5-7 years old were unaware of such fruits as bananas. Tons of civilian people began to build allotments and decorate their gardens with home grown fresh produce in the nationwide campaign known as: Dig For Victory!
Changing Role of Women
Just as much as men women played a large and crucial part in the war. In the year of 1941 the government called them forth to work and help lift up their country. They worked in ammunition factories, the toxins colouring their faces a bright yellow to the point that they were given the nickname: Canaries. But they stayed strong no matter the out downs from the men, even though many were told by their doctors that most would never be able to have children, or live to a long and happy age. Other than ammunition factories they worked as: mechanics, engineers, fire engine drivers, air raid wardens, and nurses while others banded together for the “Women’s Land Army” and “Women’s Voluntary Service” societies.
The “Women’s Land Army” worked in hard and hot conditions for very long hours in rural areas (such as Kent) to ensure that Briton did not starve – over 80,000 women signed up to fight the good fight. The “Women’s Voluntary Service” took great care of victims of The Blitz and of the war, offering any comfort they could. Be it a blanket, a talk, and a cup of tea.
Summary of Differences
The Home guard in Germany was far more industrialised and soldiered than in Briton.
Evacuation in Germany was treated as more of a conveyor belt than Briton but Briton evacuated more people.
Rationing in Germany started late as the Nazi party were worried of their image and they gave larger ration portions than in Briton.
In Germany women were psychologically subjugated while in Briton they were treated as equals.