taeglich Brot gib uns heute.

Give us today our daily bread.


One item the German Immigrant was looking for was German Bread.

Brot or Bread.

Villages in Germany to small to have a gas s tation have a bakery. Germans take the top prize for the amount of bread they eat in a year, compared to other countries. Yet, German’s currant consumption of bread pales by contrast to the amount they ate during the bleak years after World War II.

              “Misery time is bread time,” an official of the Berlin baker’s guild says. Yet the absence of sufficient bread has long been the source of misery for German people, as well as humankind.

              Throughout recorded human history, the ability and wherewithal to produce bread has almost always meant the difference between survival and starvation.

              The ancient Egypt bread was the major food product, but just as important it served as the currency of the land. Laborers who served for twenty years dragging stones to build the Pyramids of Cheops for example, where paid with a daily wage of these loaves of bread and two jugs of beer (made by steeping bread in water and allowing it to ferment).

              Even taxes were paid with bread, with temple priests receiving their tribute in loaves. It is reported that one priest received annually 900 fine wheat loaves and 36,000 flat loaves.

              The sufficiency of bread in these times was determined by the god of the Nile, who, while he felt kindly toward his people fertilized the land by flooding the waters over it. But when he was angry, he showed his rage by holding the waters in their channels.

              A displeased god of the Nile meant no bread for his people, and thus famine threatened.

It was the Romans, however, who came to outshine the people of the Nile Valley in skill and technical knowledge.


           Rye – Eaters versus Wheat – Eaters.

              The taste of rye as a bread grain, popular during the Middle-Ages, was firmly established in many parts of Germany and Russia. In fact it was common for farmers and physicians to insist that people who for centuries had been accustomed to eating rye bread could not possibly find it filling to eat white bread. Look at the physiques of the Germans and Russians, they said.

              The wheat eaters complained that rye made people stupid and dull. Contrarily, the rye- eaters said that wheat-eaters could find no more nutritive value in wheat than in air. During the 19th century, Sweden and Denmark, traditionally rye-eaters, converted to wheat bread as a matter of course. Poland in the 1700 exported three times as much rye as wheat, yet by the 1800 they were exportingA baker's shop in Oslo, Norway. three times as much wheat as rye.

              At the tim e of its birth, the American nation was raising no crops for export. At about the sam e time the increase in the European population following the Napoleonic Wars put pressure on Europe to find ways to feed the large increase in city dwellers and industrial workers. It became a logical trade-off, then, for America to slowly but surely expand its production of wheat. Around mid –century American wheat began flowing in Europe in exchange for industrial goods.

              Those great rye eaters, the Germans, were forced to adjust to the new popularity of wheat, but they had incentives: Citizens in the expanding German cities like Hamburg and Berlin became “too fine” to eat dark peasants’ bread.

Back to Rye

By the early 20th century, Germans had adopted to wheat bread. Yet as the German government prepared in the 30s for the campaign that was to turn into World War II, it realized that changes would have to be made. The German bread law of 1935 stated that 10% of bread flour must consist of potato flour, its intend being to stretch the rye flour. History had shown that when potato flour is introduced in bread, its proportion grows, and consequently the water and starch content of the bread goes up. And by the time of the war, Germany held the largest stores of potatoes in her history.       

              As soon as the war began the government began to propagandize rye. Posters shouted: eat rye bread, color is not nourishment. Rye bread makes cheeks red. The experience of its previous war had shown that home-grown wheat would stop flowing from oversees. Therefore people had to be persuaded to eat rye bread. Germans were again to become rye eaters.


  German Rye-Eaters Today

Now more than 60 years ago, Germans make more kinds of bread than anyone else- some 360 varieties, a majority of which contains rye flour.

              Take a look at the varieties offered in the bread department at the food hall at KaDeWe”s department store in Berlin. There you will see more than 100 types of rye bread. There are thick-crusted 11 pound oval loaves from Pomerania, onion bread and olive bread and pumpkin seed rye, and mini loaves just 2 inches across studded with salt and caraway. Then there is bread from the Schueler’s bakery in Bamberg that draws people from all over Berlin- a big round, spicy sour bread made from mixed rye and wheat flour. There are breads from Nuremberg, from Hamburg and from bakeries scattered across Berlin and the bread is delivered to the department store three times a day. Often the bread is still warm when it arrives.

               The store sells 400 to 2,500 loaves of rye a day with most customers buying two to four half loaves. A customer explains: ”It would look stingy not to offer a choice for breakfast.” Bread is never sliced in the store except the 11 pound loaf from Pomerania.

              Like the brewing of beer, the baking of bread is serious business in Germany. The use of bleached flour in the making of bread is illegal. There are only six ingredients in traditional German bread: rye flour, wheat flour, baker’s yeast, water, salt and sauerteich. No milk, sugar, fat or additives are used. Yet the bread lasts up to eight days.

              The difference in bread can be determined by the proportions of the different flours used. For example, rye breads are differentiated primarily by the proportion of rye flour to wheat flour in the dough. Under the German system, it is white bread if it contains 90 to 100 % wheat flour. It it white –mixed bread if it contains 49.9 to 90percent wheat flour.  It is rye bread if it contains 90 to 100 percent rye flour. And it is rye mixed bread it it contains 50 percent to 89.9percent rye flour.

Now you know more about bread than you ever wanted to know. All the best to you .M.B.


Heinlen, John, being honored by Chinese

Vierter Klasse, im Zug auf dem Weg n. Amerika

Hamburg Harber, 1900

Broadway in New York, Liliencron

Steinhoff Brothers

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