Page 3681

3681 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

foodstuffs had proved to be a farce rather

than a fact. In spite of "bread cards" and

an elaborate system of conserving supplies,

a large part of the population was undernourished. Staple foods had been taken

over by the Government and were doled out

in small quantities; a few luxuries could

still be bought in the open market by those

who had money. Among these were chickens and geese, the price of which was well

over a dollar a pound. The greatest lack of

all was "fat," and the deficit was rendered

all the greater by reason of the fact that

the Government commandeered most of

the fats for making glycerin to be used

in explosives. The stock of clothing,

also, was running short. Paper shoes,

paper clothes, and paper bags for making

sandbags to be used in fortifications were

being largely used. Rubber was rapidly

disappearing, most of the best horses had

been taken for army use, and there was

a shortage of nickel, molybdenum and

other metals needed in the construction

of big guns. An observer reported that

the whole German system was beginning

to "creak."

The greatest suffering, of course, was

in the conquered districts, for it was not

the German nature to permit a conquered

enemy to fare better than the conquerors.

America heard most of the necessity of

feeding Belgium and northern France,

but suffering was far greater in Poland

and districts that had been overrun in

the Balkan region. Relief to Belgium

and northern France was made doubly

difficult by the frequent torpedoing of

vessels carrying supplies to those countries.

The Germans repeatedly promised exemption to such ships, and as often broke

their promises.

In the closing month of 1916, the Germans adopted a policy of deporting Belgians and Frenchmen into Germany to

engage in forced labor, and they also