Friday 26 November 2021

The Wehrmacht asks for more beer

In August 1942 the German authorities announced that an extra 25,000 hl of beer per year would be delivered to the Wehrmacht in Holland. I say "announced". Demanded was more like it. It's not as if Dutch brewers could refuse.

Dutch brewers wanted to provide as much beer for the general population as in 1939. Which was around 1.5 million hl. That might sound pretty reasonable. Until you take into account the fall in gravities since the German occupation. 

Also, the Germans often demanded "heavy" beer for their troops. Which basically meant Pils. Breweries were only allowed to have a certain percentage of their production in this category. Meaning the locals would have to put up mostly with the watery versions of Lagerbier. By late 1942, that type of beer was just 1.4% ABV. Kinderbier, as Dolores would call it.

Purely in volume terms, Germans consumed a third of all the beer brewed in Holland. Which is totally out of proportion compared to their numbers compared to the local civilian population.

Talking of the numbers of Germans, these figures give an insight into exactly what they were. Assuming that German military personnel were still getting a ration of 9 litres of beer per month, I calculate that there were around a quarter of a million of them.

Proposed beer distribution in Holland in late 1942
group (hl) no. Germans
civilian population 1,500,000  
Wehrmacht 225,000              208,333
Waffen SS 25,000                23,148
other Germans in uniform 25,000                23,148
military visits to pubs and other compulsory deliveries 475,000  
total 2,250,000             254,630
Minutes of the management of the CBK on 9th September 1942, held at the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, document number 31121-1, page 42.


Anonymous said...

Is it clear if all that beer was for Germans stationed in the Netherlands? I wonder what they were doing to supply the demands for all of their troops in France which might not have had enough national brewing capacity for the much larger influx of Germans.

Ron Pattinson said...


it's clearly stated that this was for German troops stationed in Holland. Some of the German troops in Zeeuwse Vlaanderen - the isolated bit of Holland south of the Schelde - got beer from Belgium. There was zero export of Dutch beer.