CONDITIONS IN GERMANY
Sta,—My husband returned to Germany last autumn, after spending the war years in England, and I joined him in June, and I can assure Mrs. Davies that if her letter came from the American zone after the currency reform, it is almost certainly not genuine. Since this reform, even in this zone, which is generally agreed not to be as well off for food as the American, there has been such an incredible change in the supply -of fruit and vegetables alone—from none, -to abundance at reasonable prices —that, as my daily help said to me, one can at least be " full," and so the diet, though by no means ideal, definitely does not justify " pathetic " letters, except perhaps in the case of young children. On the other hand, the old parents of my daily help live in the Russian zone, and. on the same day that I read " Merchant's " letter in The Spectator, she
received a letter which described their situation in terms amazingly like those " Merchant " quotes. She sends them as much as she can, but the cost of postage she finds very heavy. My husband's people, too, live in the Russian zone, just outside Berlin, and life is a great deal harder there than it is with us.
One might note in passing that if the lady's husband lost his job straight away in 1945 he must have been an ardent Nazi. On the whole, if benevolent people wish to help the need that undoubtedly exists among the sick, the aged, and children, in the Western zones, and have no personal friends there, they had much better support the organisations you name. 'The need in the Russian zone is much greater, and perhaps balances the risk of helping racketeers. One such racket I myself experienced while still in England. A firm in Berlin wrote to me and suggested that I send them 30 lbs. (!) of used pure wool knitted garments —which, they optimistically assured me, could easily be found in a British household—and in return they would supply a friend of mine, whom I could nominate, with a suit, " not guaranteed to be pure wool," at what they said would be "a reasonable price "!—Yours faithfully,
Hamburg 13, Feldbrunnenstrasse 57, Germany.