The Ambassador in Germany (Gerard) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 6.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary:
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The food question is getting very serious. We are to go, in a few days, on a meat ration of less than half a pound a week. For a long time the poor have had no meat—a chicken costs 20 Marks or so, and a goose 30—and living has become fearfully expensive. The Germans foolishly killed most of their pigs early in the war, and also exported sugar to keep up the price of the Mark, but now they are practically without fat, and sugar is getting low. Delbrück, Minister of the Interior, is being bounced for this. We are on rations for nearly everything. The Germans however will last, somehow, and the harvest so far promises to be extra fine. Rye, which is the principal crop, is harvested about July 15th. The German military situation seems very strong, there are plenty of soldiers to be seen in the towns and cities, and Germany is by no means down to her last man. All our military experts tell me the ammunition supply is plentiful. But the psychological moment for a peace proposal, as far as this country is concerned, is here.
I do not think the meat supply can be bettered here for a long time, butter sugar and fat very short. The new harvest and grain from Roumania will keep the population alive, but how long these meat eaters will stand being vegetarians is another question. Personally I do not believe any serious uprising will occur. The Government is too strong and the people too well disciplined. Nevertheless there have been serious riots (food) in Leipzig recently. In the workingmen’s part of the city no one is allowed on the streets after 8 PM, and in other parts, after 9 PM. These riots are sporadic, caused by the food question and are leaderless.
I am sorry Taft jumps off with lead in the matter of getting hospital supplies to Germany through the British blockade. See my [Page 686] cables to Department running back six or seven months or more on this question.26