Starvation in the Ghettos
Grade Levels: 3 through 12
Sunshine State Standards:
- to investigate how human beings survive under camp and ghetto life's extreme conditions by examining the set rations
- to recognize the suffering and loss of life experienced in Holocaust ghettoes due to food rationing
- to identify the basic food groups, USRDA requirements and compare those to rations of ghetto and camp inmates
- to recognize the importance of adequate nutrition.
View all Sunshine State Standards
- Grades 3-5
- Grades 6-8
- Grades 9-12
Starvation of ghetto residents was a deliberate Nazi policy. The amount of food the ghetto was allowed could change from week to week, sometimes from day to day. The official weekly ration for the Jews was very small. At times, it was no more than 1,100 calories a day. Often, not even that much food was made available. For one particular week each Jew was allowed: Bread 14.0 oz., Meat products 4.5 oz., Sugar 1.75 oz., Fat 0.9 oz.. At that rate, the Jewish ration was only about 350 calories a day. A sedentary adult needs about 2,000 calories to maintain his weight. A thirteen-year-old boy needs about 3,000 and a baby needs 1,200. With much less than those amounts, the body loses weight quickly. After a certain point, the body survives by digesting muscle. Painful death from starvation comes not long after that.
- US Department of Agriculture Food Pyramid and recommended daily calorie requirements (available on the Web, in encyclopedias, and on food labels)
- reference material on malnutrition
- excerpt from Man's Search for Meaning
- Read the following excerpt from Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning:During the latter part of our imprisonment, the daily ration consisted of very watery soup given out once daily, and the usual small bread ration. In addition to that, there was the so-called "extra allowance," consisting of three-fourths of an ounce of margarine, or a slice of poor quality sausage, or of a little piece of cheese, or a bit of synthetic honey, or a spoonful of watery jam, varying daily. In calories, this diet was absolutely inadequate, especially taking into consideration our heavy manual work and our constant exposure to the cold in inadequate clothing. The sick who were "under special care"--that is, those who were allowed to lie in the huts instead of leaving the camp for work--were worse off.
When the last layers of subcutaneous fat had vanished and we looked like skeletons disguised with skin and rags, we could watch our bodies beginning to devour themselves. The organism digested its own protein, and the muscles disappeared. Then the body had no powers of resistance left....
- Compare the average daily ration of ghetto dwellers with USDA recommended daily allowances for adults and children.
- Research some of the ailments ghetto dwellers may have experienced due to severe malnutrition. Discuss the importance of a complete balanced diet.
- Students may keep a food diary of their daily intake for one week, including the calorie count and fat intake for each day.
- What is the daily requirement of calories and fat for your age? How closely do you meet these requirements?
- Estimate the caloric intake of ghetto inhabitants.
- List some symptoms of vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition.
Evaluate students based on completion of their food diary and participation in class discussion.
Visit the Food and Nutrition Information Center Web site for nutrition information.
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005.