This is a ration book holder from World War II. There are four sets of ration books inside of this ration book holder, the first one from May 5th 1942, and the fourth one from 1943. They belonged to my maternal grandma’s family, which included her mother Sara, father Robert, and her two younger sisters: Yvonne, who was 14 when the first one was issued, and Roberta, who was 12. Christine (my grandma) was 16. Each individual ration book is filled out with the full name, full address, age, height, weight, gender of the person whose book it is.
On the back of each one there are rules about the rations books and warnings about what happens if the rules are violated: “Persons who violate rationing regulations are subject to a $10,000 fine or imprisonment, or both.” In case the threat of imprisonment was not enough to discourage breaking the rationing rules, underneath the instructions it reads: “Rationing is a vital part of your country’s war effort. Any attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and help the enemy.”
Usually when people remember or learn about World War II, they think about the soldiers who fought for their country. These ration books remind us that the war did not only affect the people fighting overseas, but also everyone else who was still at home. The American Dream in terms of determination and hard work leading to success is represented in these booklets. They drive home the idea that the individual people who make up the country had a way of helping the war effort, and even though it meant sacrifice on their part, they were all united in fighting for the success of the nation.
“One of the most important events in my lifetime happened in 1989, when the wall between East Berlin and West Berlin was torn down, uniting Germany for the first time in my lifetime.”
“All of my life up until that point there was tension between, there were really two superpowers in the world, Russia and the United States, and there was a lot of fear that there was ultimately going to be a war between the two, they both had kind of equal power, they both had a lot of nuclear weapons. And this was a big deal because it effectively showed that the US had the upper hand, that the democratic system was going to carry the day.”
I interviewed my dad about the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in 1989. He was born in 1961, when the wall was built, so he was 28 and living in New York City when it was brought down. This time period was significant because in his lifetime Germany had never been a united country. The wall had always divided East and West Berlin, and had always been representative of the tension between communism and democracy. The wall had been built to separate communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin.
The beginning of the rise of public response that eventually led to the tearing down of the wall was the speech that President Reagan gave in 1987 in Berlin. In the speech, President Reagan addressed the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and said that if he wanted peace in the world he must “Tear down this wall!” Two years later, the wall was finally taken down. My dad had a friend who was living in Berlin at the time, and he was sitting on the wall as it was being torn down. For the people of Berlin, it was the most monumental thing that had ever happened.
Because of CNN, the tearing down of the wall was broadcasted globally, and this had the effect of showing that the United States had “won.” Russia and the United States were in the midst of the Cold War, and the demolition of the wall indicated that democracy worked better than communism, and from that point forward the popularity of communism began to decline. This was a big deal, because people from both countries and around the world had been fearful for so long that tensions between the two superpowers would escalate into a nuclear war.
Germany changed and grew hugely after wall was torn down. There was not animosity between the East and West Germany, but because the economy of East Berlin was so much worse than that of West Berlin there was worry that the economy of the whole of Germany would be pulled down because of this. With time, Germany became a unified and improved compared to how it was before the Berlin Wall.