The First World War: trauma and memory
The First World War: trauma and memory

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The First World War: trauma and memory

2.2.1 Turnips

Described image
Figure 13 A German turnip cart. The turnips are infested with maggots of Gall Weevil.

During the winter of 1916/17, rations were reduced further, to 1000 calories per day, half of what was needed by an adult. A daily menu might have consisted of swede soup for breakfast, swede ‘chops’ for lunch, and swede cake for dinner. Even coffee was made of dried ground swedes or turnips.

A note on terminology – the German term for the root vegetable consumed in huge quantities is ‘Steckrübe’. This is a yellow root vegetable and in the UK more commonly known as a swede, though confusingly in Scotland a ‘neep’, as in turnip, is the term used for a swede (or Swedish turnip). It is the term ‘turnip winter’ that is used as translation for the German ‘Steckrübenwinter’, and whether turnip or swede, arguably neither would make for a very varied and healthy diet.

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