Hunger and War

Hunger and War

Food Provisioning in the Soviet Union during World War II
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/01/2015
Format: Paperback 10 b&w illus., 1 map, 13 tables
ISBN: 978-0-253-01712-3
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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.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.

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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

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