Hunger and War

Hunger and War

Food Provisioning in the Soviet Union during World War II
Edited by Wendy Zeva Goldman and Donald Arnold Filtzer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/01/2015
Format: Paperback 10 b&w illus., 1 map, 13 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-01712-3
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


Drawing on recently released Soviet archival materials, Hunger and War investigates state food supply policy and its impact on Soviet society during World War II. It explores the role of the state in provisioning the urban population, particularly workers, with food; feeding the Red army; the medicalization of hunger; hunger in blockaded Leningrad; and civilian mortality from hunger and malnutrition in other home front industrial regions. New research reported here challenges and complicates many of the narratives and counter-narratives about the war. The authors engage such difficult subjects as starvation mortality, bitterness over privation and inequalities in provisioning, and conflicts among state organizations. At the same time, they recognize the considerable role played by the Soviet state in organizing supplies of food to adequately support the military effort and defense production and in developing policies that promoted social stability amid upheaval. The book makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the Soviet population's experience of World War II as well as to studies of war and famine.

Author Bio

Wendy Z. Goldman is Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Inventing the Enemy: Denunciation and Terror in Stalin’s Russia; Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin: The Social Dynamics of Repression; Women at the Gates: Gender and Industry in Stalin's Russia; and Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936.

Donald Filtzer is Professor of Russian History at the University of East London, United Kingdom. He is author of The Hazards of Urban Life in Late Stalinist Russia: Health, Hygiene, and Living Standards, 1943-1953.


“An extremely important book about an under-researched problem that will be of intense interest to historians of nutrition and food supply in wartime, the Great Patriotic War, the siege of Leningrad, and the history of Soviet medicine.”
 — Dan Healy, Oxford University

“Hunger and War provides important new material and innovative analyses not easily available to English speaking audiences on an important subject that has received too little attention. The Soviet experience of war takes on a new dimension. . . . Wartime hunger in the USSR was more than aching stomachs; it was political and symbolic as well.”
 — Jeffrey K. Hass, author of Rethinking the Post-Soviet Experience

“The book is incredibly well documented and researched, and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Soviet Union's wartime experience.”
 — Social History of Medicine

“This excellent book adds much to our knowledge of the Soviet Union’s home front. ”
 — American Historical Review

“The editors and Indiana University Press are to be very warmly congratulated for producing such a fine and necessary work. The editors have done an excellent job in putting together a very good team of contributors—men and women who not only know their individual specialist subject areas thoroughly, but also write in an engaging and thoughtful manner”
 — Europe - Asia Studies

“Hunger and War broadens our horizons on a crucial dimension of the Soviet-German War. Indiana University Press has done an admirable job in producing the book, which will prove valuable to researchers and as assigned reading for students. ”

“Hunger and War . . . constitutes an important contribution to the current scholarship on the period of the Great Patriotic War. Focusing on the theme of food provisioning and consumption, the volume effectively bridges the traditional divide between scholarship on the battlefront and the home front. By bringing to light an impressive corpus of previously ignored archival sources, this new collection provides an important supplement to the existing literature on the topic.”
 — CritCom

“Hunger and War makes an extremely valuable contribution to scholarly understandings of the Great Patriotic War, in particular the relationship between state policies, popular experiences, and the extraordinary social costs of the war. It reveals for the first time, in remarkable detail, the full extent of hunger and food shortage across Soviet space.”
 — Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

“The sustained treatment and tight focus make Hunger and War a compelling addition to the historiography of the Soviet Union at war.”
 — International Review of Social History

“'Hunger and War' analyses several aspects of food shortages, starvation, and food provisioning in the Soviet Union. . . . [This is] . . . a coherent and informative volume that adds substantially to existing knowledge about Soviet food supply, military and civilian rationing, and starvation during the 'Great Patriotic War'.Dec. 2016”
 — Intnl Review of Social History

“The research is extensive and innovative, and the writing is deep yet engaging, resulting in a volume whose contribution to the historiography of World War II and to food studies in general will stand the test of time.”
 — The Russian Review

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

List of Terms and Abbreviations
Introduction: The Politics of Food and War / Donald Filtzer and Wendy Z. Goldman
1. Not by Bread Alone: Food, Workers, and the State / Wendy Z. Goldman
2. The State’s Pot and Soldier’s Spoon: Rations (Paëk) in the Red Army / Brandon Schechter
3. Queues, Canteens, and the Politics of Location in Diaries of the Leningrad Blockade, 1941-42 / Alexis Peri
4. Nutritional Dystrophy: The Science and Semantics of Starvation in World War II / Rebecca Manley
5. Starvation Mortality in Soviet Home-Front Industrial Regions During World War II / Donald Filtzer

Related Titles