The war still seems far away

Berlin office workers enjoying the spring sunshine during their lunch break. Across Europe most people were relatively unaffected by the war. That was about to change.

Marie Vassiltchikov was a Russian emigre with a Lithuanian passport, living in Berlin. Her language skills found her work with the German Foreign Ministry Information Department. Her private diary was to increasingly chronicle the impact of the war on Berliners but up to now is largely concerned with her social life.

28th April: The virtual disappearance of many indispensables since the start of the war has had a comical aftermath at my office: for some time now our bosses had been complaining about the inexplicable consumption of unaccountable quantities of w.c. paper. At first they concluded that the staff must be suffering from some new form of mass diarrhoea, but as weeks passed and the toll did not diminish, it finally dawned on them that everyone was simply tearing off ten times more than he (or she) needed and smuggling it home. A new regulation has now been issued: all staff members must betake themselves to a Central Distribution Point, where they are solemnly issued with the amount judged sufficient for their daily needs!

See Marie Vassiltchikov: The Berlin Diaries, 1940-45.

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