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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg March 10, 2017

Uniformen statt Ulster. Textileinzelhandel im Ersten Weltkrieg

Uwe Balder


Uniforms instead of Ulsters. Textile Retail Trade in the First World War

The study explores the impacts of war time economy and regulation on German textile retailers. An adequate supply with clothing was essential for military success as well as for keeping social peace at the home front. The article deals with this central conflict and asks for the reasons, the implementation and the consequences of regulation on the clothing distribution sector and its single businesses. Special attention is paid to the expectations and demands the distribution sector had to deal with – by its suppliers, customers and public and military authorities. I argue that only because of the systematic robbery of textile resources within the occupied territories in 1914/15, there was little regulation on textile retailers within the first months. But because «Textilnot» was already eminent and the war lasted longer than expected, regulation reached a new high by establishing the central institutions of clothing rationing in 1916: the «Reichsbekleidungsstelle» and the «Bezugsschein». It can be shown that the regulation amplified structural changes within the retail sector. It accelerated the vertical integration of production and distribution. The war also showed the flaws within the retailer`s organizations. Compared to their suppliers the retailers were deeply divided and did not stand on common ground to influence the regulation process. They were held responsible for the lack of supply and rising prices. But this loss of trust by the broad public helped to overcome division and paved the way for the first umbrella organization. The article concludes that the lack of textiles was both – impulse and unsolved problem for war-time regulation. The textile distribution did not collapse because of an effective regulation, but rather because of the strict civilian textile abstinence.

Online erschienen: 2017-03-10
Erschienen im Druck: 2017-03-10

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