Butter more expensive than codfish during world war II

Luckily we don’t like to throw stuff away in this family. That’s why we still have  pricelists of 1943, 1944 and 1945. My greatgrandfather was a farmer with a small grocery shop in the Silvercoast area. During world war II food was rationed in Portugal, as well.

Guideline for the distribution of essencial goods (rice, sugar, pasta and soap) in the first months of the year 1945

In the years of severe fighting throughout Europe (1939-1945), Portugal remainded neutral and therefore a safe heaven for many. In the Silvercoast area sites like Foz do Arelho and Caldas da Rainha are known to be places where refugees who escaped the horrors of war in northern Europe spent their days waiting for better times to come or hoping for a ticket on one of carriers heading from Lisbon to America. In a silent video kept in United States Holocaust Memorial Museum you can watch Jewish refugees in Caldas da Rainha attending a farmer’s market, washing clothes, enjoying coffee in café Bocage, which still exist on the top of the central square, and playing cards in fancy Hotel Lisbonense, nowadays Sana Silver Coast Hotel.

Café Bocage
Hotel Lisbonense, nowadays Sana Silver Coast Hotel

Advertising posters from 1943 on explain how food is distributed and what prices have to be paid in grocery shops. The price of butter ended up skyhigh in 1944. In fact butter was much more expensive than Portuguese traditional codfish. In January 1943 people paid 21,50 escudos for some butter while codfish was only 8,70 escudos. In March 1944, however, the price of butter went up to 29 escudos.

January 21 st, 1943. Bacalhau = codfish; manteiga = butter
October 16th, 1943
March 17th, 1944

The last advertising poster we have in our possession is dated 1946. Probably there was no longer need to ration essencial foodstuff from 1947 onwards. Nowadays, in the part of the world I live in, there is plenty of everything. I can’t remember having spent one day with an empty belly. How extremely lucky we are!


Dutch version: go to Zin in Portugal
Link to video of Jewish refugees in Silvercoast area: Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Link to hotel: Sana Silver Coast Hotel

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