Sunday, December 13, 2009


Armageddon by Max Hastings is the horrifying story of the last months of World War II. It's so horrifying that I can hardly find any way to discuss it. Hunger is an underlying topic when one writes about food. Usually I think about the hunger that people in my community are suffering, and I try to donate food or money to organizations that are trying to help them. The book puts this in a totally different perspective.

In Armageddon, one learns about the winter of 1944-45. Everywhere occupied by Germany was suffering from near starvation. On the Eastern front, which was practically all of Poland, vast numbers of people were homeless and without resources or food. In concentration camps, hunger had been used as a punishment; by this time most of the victims had already died. POWS, Jews, and others undesirable to Nazis continued to be intentionally worked to death without food. Inside Russia there was also terrible starvation.

Widespread hunger left no one to help. Numerous tragic examples appear in the book. One that piqued my imagination was a recipe from Holland for how to cook tulip bulbs. A liter of water, one onion, 4-6 tulip bulbs, seasoning, salt, oil and curry substitute were the ingredients. "The outcome was repulsive, but possessed some vestiges of nutritional value." Everything in this book is infinitely painful.


Cindy said...

Yes, hunger is the sub-text in writing about food. I think I'm going to have to read this book. Thanks for mentioning it.


Mae Travels said...

Most of the book is about the battles, tactics, and outright savagery -- food only is mentioned from time to time. It's a very long painful read, but I think you will find it enlightening (not enjoyable).