Previous blogs have described various aspects of Hoover’s food relief efforts in post-WWII Germany. Combating various leaders who sought to punish Germany by withholding food, Hoover understood the necessity of providing sustenance to a population malnourished by mandatory food shortages imposed during the war. The most thankful recipients of food at this time were children. Rosemarie Brettman wrote to Hoover on March 4, 1948, to express her feelings about receiving a Hoover school lunch.
A little German girl with blue eyes and fair hair will thank you for your great kindness to spend lavishly to so many hungry pupils the wonderful Hoover-food. To-day we have got the fine soup for the first time and so I must thank you immediately. All the children of our school were rather happy. I have lost my father in this war. I was born in the forests of Ostpreussen [East Prussia] and I am twelve years old. Now my mother with my brother and my sister and me are living in Pyrmont. We all are poor fugitives.
All German children will remember your name in thankfulness for ever.”
In simple declarative sentences, Rosemarie reveals the loss of her father, the hardship of food shortages, and the treasured “Hoover food” as providing joy and hope for the future. Hoover’s food relief was not only life sustaining, it was life affirming.