Living conditions for women changed significantly during the First World War. Women had to take on what were previously considered men’s occupations in agriculture, skilled trades and industry, and they had to work in offices and shops. Many soldiers had been their families’ sole providers, but now their wives were left with full responsibility for maintaining the household, bringing home a pay packet, and raising the children. Sometimes, they even had to run a farm as well. Everyone on the home front lived in constant fear for the lives and safety of their husbands, sons and brothers in the trenches.
Food shortages began to bite from 1915 onwards, and rationing was introduced. The authorities attempted to distribute the limited resources in a fair manner by introducing maximum prices on staple foods, and by setting up soup kitchens to provide meals for children and the elderly from poor households. Both private citizens and organisations such as the North Schleswig Farmers’ Association formed committees to provide assistance to the most disadvantaged. This giant programme of aid made no distinction between Danish and German.