The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 3/Food Situation in February

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3316719The Czechoslovak Review, volume 3, no. 4 — Food Situation in February1919

Food Situation in February

That the food situation in the Czechoslovak Republic in February was even worse than during the war is apparent to anyone who follows the Prague papers. All our people complain about lack of meat, flour, fats; even coal is sometimes lacking and the street railways cannot run, because the miners have not sufficient strength to produce the minimum amount of coal needed.

A leading article in the České Slovo of February 11th, entitled “A Cry of Desperation,” describes the situation in very vivid words: “Prague and the entire Czechoslovak Republic find themselves in a critical food situation. We have neither flour, nor fats, nor legumes, nor meat. The problem of feeding the people is becoming more hopeless every day and instead of change for the better which we all expected, we are now faced with the spectre of famine, threatening a real catastrophe.

At present we have in Prague members of a British Food Commission in charge of Col. Sommerhays. The commission saw for itself in all the institutions visited by it, in hospitals, poor houses, orphan asylums, markets, stockyards and warehouses, that feeding the inhabitants of Greater Prague is a desperate problem, far more critical than it has ever been.

The Czechoslovak nation was fully entitled to special consideration on the part of the Allies, because its noblest sons shed their blood for the common cause against the common enemy. And yet no one took the trouble to see to it that the Czechoslovak nation might get at least as much food as to keep alive until the next harvest.

And so we publicly make this charge and ask this question: How is it that the Allies have supplies for Vienna, for Poland, and for other countries, hostile countries, and why are we overlooked in spite of the fact that our best men laid down their lives for humanity and for the common cause? Members of the commission ascertained that in the municipal sanitarium, for instance, 164 inmates out of 300 died in one year, and that the 300 inmates got only nine quarts of milk a day. They saw that in the general hospitals, instead of 500 quarts of milk needed daily for the serious cases, only 60 quarts are available. Babies in the institutions get little more than one-half pint of milk a day, while other babies do not even get that.

The gentlemen of the commission found in the stock yards, that we have practically no beef at all, only calves weighing 70 to 80 pounds. Even if sometimes the same number of head of cattle reaches the yards, the amount of meat is one-sixth of what it formerly was. In the municipal market, hungry people complain that they can get no fats at all and very little flour. And as far as we know, nothing has been done to hasten the delivery of supplies for the suffering people.

We read in many reports that immense quantities of foodstuffs have been delivered to Paris, but that they are not forwarded further, because in Paris everyone pays attention only to the peace conference; no one has time to care about anything else.

We call on the entente openly: save our nation. Save our people, while there is time, in order that calamity might be averted, in order that we might not die of hunger. Do not believe, gentlemen of the entente, that conditions in Prague and the Czechoslovak Republic are better than in Vienna. It is not so. We declare emphatically that we are far worse off than the people of Vienna and German Austria. But because the Czechoslovaks are by nature so self-denying that they would rather suffer than allow the common cause to take harm, we did not cry for help.

But now, at the last moment, in a terrible emergency, we cry out with all our strength: Save our nation, before it is too late.”

As if in answer to this desperate cry, the Czechoslovak Correspondence, published in Paris as a semi-official bulletin, has the following to say of what has been accomplished by strenuous work of Edward Beneš, foreign minister of the Czechoslovak Republic. The reason for this terrible condition in Bohemia was not indifference of the Allies, but disputes between Italians and Jugoslavs, and Jugoslavs and Austrians, as well as the condition of the railroad from Trieste north. According to late reports,food is arriving daily in Prague in satisfactory quantities.

The first supplies for Bohemia from the outside world reached Trieste at the beginning of February. Two American ships brought from the United States 15,000 tons of flour, 8,500 tons of lard and 500 tons of condensed milk. Shortly after an agreement was reached in Paris by which the United States undertook to supply one-half of the food-stuffs needed in the Czechoslovak Republic until next harvest. England agreed to supply one-fourth and France one-fourth. The United States Government also consented to extend credit to the Czechoslovak Government for all the food supplies bought in the United States under this agreement. Raw materials needed for the reopening of Bohemian factories must be bought on credit, provided for by private arrangements, insofar as goods exported from Bohemia are insufficient to ballance the needed imports.

The necessities of the Czechoslovak Republic in the matter of food-stuffs—grain, rice, beef, fats, milk, coffee, tea—have been laid before the Allies, and the United States undertook to supply for March. 15,000 tons of rice, 25,000 tons of flour, 1,000 tons of lard and 500 tons of condensed milk. For April, America shipped 30,000 tons of rice, 15,000 tons of flour, 1,000 tons of lard and 500 tons of condensed milk. Under present circumstances all of this freight will be shipped to Trieste; with the suspension of the blockade against Germany, it may be possible to land some of these supplies at Hamburg and ship them to Prague by boats on the Elbe.

The Czechoslovak Government bought in Spain 5,000 tons of rice which was expected in Trieste in the middle of March; in England, drugs to the value of one million francs were purchased with the expectation that they could be delivered in Bohemia by rail from France. A certain quantity of platinum needed in the Czechoslovak chemical industry will be supplied by France. The British Government sold the Czechoslovaks 900 tons of brass, which will be delivered by rail from Switzerland. The American Government sold some of its military supplies and agreed to deliver them at Udine.

Before the recent outburst between the Italians and the Jugoslavs, caused by the Laibach incident, which resulted in Allied control of Austrian railways, arrangements were made between the French and Czechoslovak Governments to run a passenger and freight through line from France to Bohemia by way of Italy, Jugoslavia and German Austria. The direct way, hardly one-third as long as the round-about way through Italy, would run across Southern Germany, but until peace is made with Germany the direct route cannot be used. Freight trains are to run twice a week from Paris to Prague, carrying merchandise and war materials and bring back to Paris Bohemian export goods, principally sugar, hops, glass, lumber, etc.

This work was published in 1919 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 104 years or less since publication.

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