861.5018/50: Telegram

The Second Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union (Thompson) to the Secretary of State

25. For Agriculture. Department’s telegram No. 12, January 24, 11 a.m.26 Effective February 1 a new first category food card is established for workers engaged in defense industries. It provides 800 grams of bread per day and the same amounts of other commodities as the second category cards.

Second category cards are issued to manual workers and in addition to 600 grams of bread per day provide for the following amounts in kilograms per month: meat 2.2, sugar .4, candy .5, butter .3, vegetable oil .5, grits 2, potatoes 5, salt .4, tea .025.

Third category cards which are issued to office workers provide 500 grams of bread per day and about one-third less of the other items than second category cards.

Fourth category consists of adult dependents and fifth category consists of children under 12 years of age, both receive 400 grams bread daily and roughly one-fourth of the quantities of other items allotted to second category workers. Unemployed children over 12 are placed in the fourth group which receives less sugar and butter than the fifth.

Recently there has been some grading downwards of occupations. Apart from bread only about one-half of the commodities provided on the cards were actually issued during January particularly in the lower categories and it is understood that many of the items will [Page 413] not be obtainable at all in February. On the other hand it should be borne in mind that many workers are provided with meals by their organizations or are allowed to buy in special stores.

Judging from the situation in Moscow the food problem may become critical by spring27 and the reconquering of devastated territory will of course only aggravate the immediate situation.

  1. Not printed.
  2. The Chargé reported from Kuibyshev in telegram No. 271, April 2, 1942, that it had become known that during 2 months of the past winter there had been 650,000 deaths from starvation in Leningrad. At the Embassy itself he had felt it necessary “to begin serving soup daily to all employees”. (861.5018/53). The Ambassador related in telegram No. 119 from Moscow on April 21, 1942, that deaths from starvation in Leningrad were continuing at an estimated rate of 1500 to 3000 a day (861.5018/55).