How bad was the food situation in Germany and Japan during strategic bombing campaigns?

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
How bad was the food situtation in German and Japan? I know that Japan by 1945 was near starvation. Did the populations disperse to the country to get easier food supplies? I can imagine hitting roads and oil refinieries would cause mass food shortages in the city.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
How bad was the food situtation in German and Japan? I know that Japan by 1945 was near starvation. Did the populations disperse to the country to get easier food supplies? I can imagine hitting roads and oil refinieries would cause mass food shortages in the city.
Agriculture wasn't industrialized back then, so oil shortages didn't really affect it. What did was weather issues affecting crops, lack of farmers, and poor transportation. None of which was ever that bad because the Allies never specifically went after food. What really affected both was that both Germany and especially Japan were food importers, based on their population they had no real way of feeding themselves using only what was inside their own borders. So denying them food from outside, through a blockade, forced rationing, that over time was constrained more and more.

Japan rice crop in 1945 was a bust, because of many factors. Coupled with the destruction of their fishing fleets by marauding US Navy aircraft and ships, they were in dire straits. Furthermore, as part of a blockade strategy, there were considerations to target food production, by going after levies to purposely cause rice field flooding, or to use widespread use of defoliants against the rice crops to kill it. That would have killed tens of millions, starting with the sick, the young, the old, with the military having priority, and the elite still getting to eat as much as they wanted.
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,638
USA
How bad was the transportation situtation. Were there enough alternate routes not linked to main roads to get the food across?
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
How bad was the transportation situtation. Were there enough alternate routes not linked to main roads to get the food across?
At the end, priority for transport went to military and govt. The other thing was stockpiling of food, with priorities for the military. But both were secondary to the deficit caused by having the inability to import foreign food. Or in the case of Japan, fishing, which accounted for most of their protein intake.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,606
Dispargum
Due to an aerial mining campaign in the final months of the war, imports of all goods into Japan, including food, was reduced to almost zero.

If you're talking about famine, then you're talking about massive food shortages that could only be solved by rail rather than road. German railroad yards, track hubs, and other rail targets were bombed throughout the war, but only in 1945 was the damage severe enough to collapse the entire German rail network. By then, all of Germany's foreign conquests had been liberated so there wasn't any place for Germany to import food from anyway. One of the advantages of rail over road transport is the energy source. Trains ran on coal which Germany had a lot of, but trucks run on oil (gas) which was in short supply.

Wealthy Germans did disperse from the cities to the country to avoid the bombings, and this would have the extra effect of taking people closer to the food sources, but most Germans could not afford to quit their city jobs and with the fuel shortages, commuting from country to city was not practical either.
 
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botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,546
Amelia, Virginia, USA
The effects of the war persist, which led to serious food shortages over the winter of '45/46, and beyond, really.
If the farmland was fought over, it might be some time before it can be made productive again. Irrigation or drainage systems might be destroyed, as in Okinawa or Flanders. Infrastructure like barns, silos, wells, fences etc will also be destroyed. The fighting delayed or destroyed the spring planting in places.
Aggienation mentioned the loss of farmers. That means not only a loss of critical labor, but also of "institutional knowledge". Recognizing weather, pests, disease; knowing the best methods for the circumstance, how to store properly, indeed how to manage the complex business...all the stuff that comes with experience.
Food shortages lead to a loss of livestock, as milk cows are slaughtered for the meat, laying chickens as well. Draft animals slaughtered or requisitioned. Seeds eaten rather than stored. Orchards cut down or blown up. Fields sown with mines. And so on.
 
Jul 2019
43
london
In the case of Japan, the Americans used submarines extremely effectively I think, so that by 1945 most of the Japanese merchant fleet had been sunk, and the food situation was becoming dire.

German wasn't an island nation, and so it couldn't be isolated in the same way. I don't think that the allied strategic bombing campaign started going after oil targets consistently until 1944, and even then the head of U.K. Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, was reluctant to do so, and dragged his feet over the matter.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,654
How bad was the food situtation in German and Japan? I know that Japan by 1945 was near starvation. Did the populations disperse to the country to get easier food supplies? I can imagine hitting roads and oil refinieries would cause mass food shortages in the city.
Germany export it's food problems the occupied territories were stripped to feed Germany. Germany did not rally suffer from food shortages till 45.
 
Apr 2014
247
Liverpool, England
I don't think that the allied strategic bombing campaign started going after oil targets consistently until 1944, and even then the head of U.K. Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, was reluctant to do so, and dragged his feet over the matter.
Granted that Harris was not enthusiastic about oil targets, it is possible that the RAF actually dropped a greater weight of bombs on them and that the heavier bombs delivered by the RAF were more effective. Which is not to say that he couldn't have done better.
 
Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
great book on the subject 'The Taste of War' by L Collingwood
https://www.amazon.com/Taste-War-World-Battle-Food/dp/0143123017/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=a+taste+of+war&qid=1564230500&s=books&sr=1-2

by 1945 Japanese schoolgirls were out catching frogs to dry for soup. they were eating all sorts of low-grade and ersatz food.
Germany didn't suffer as much but there were issues. a particular problem was keeping their concentration camp / slave workers fed. they got stuff like cabbage soup and some bread but not enough for long-term survival while doing heavy labor.
as mentioned German and Japan food issues would continue through 1946.