Germany Advises Citizens to Stockpile Food and Water, But Why Now?

By Cezary Piwowarski (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In a move, not seen since the end of the cold war, it was announced over the weekend that Germany  intends advising its citizens to stockpile food and water in the event of an unspecified catastrophe or event happening. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed that such a plan was to be discussed this Wednesday with a view to presenting the findings that same day. It is believed that this plan will suggest that the citizens of Germany should stockpile enough drinking water to last for five days and food to last for ten days. They also propose that the people prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten their existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future. The plan also suggests that the population will need to offer support to the armed services of their nation. It has also been stated that the parliamentary committee had originally commissioned this civil defense strategy in 2012.

German defence minister, Ursula Von der Leyen, recently announced Merkel’s nine-point plan to fight terrorism, to include adding police officers, allowing the army to be involved in response to possible terrorist attacks, seeking to tighten European weapons laws and increasing the exchange of intelligence with the United States. In addition given the admission of the potential future involvement of the Bundeswehr (unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities) in the fight against terrorism one would be forgiven for assuming that this plan was being issued with reference to the perceived threat of future terrorist attacks.  Germany has after all already witnessed a spate of such attacks in Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, Nuremburg and Berlin. However let us assess what this and other catastrophes or events might warrant the need for a nation of people to stockpile food and water, for anywhere between five and ten days.

Firstly, this report has apparently been in process since 2012, when the threat of such terrorist attacks In Germany would have been deemed minimal. However setting that aside in the context of such a threat we need to look historically at the profile of terrorist attacks that have been carried globally in modern history. Whilst not wishing to trivialise any single such attack, when has there ever been such an incident which required the people of any nation to stockpile food and water? If there ever was such a need it would suggest that the entire nation would have come under a concerted attack simultaneously which would not be something akin to such terrorist attacks, which are always random and dispersed in their nature. If a nation was to be under a concerted attack it would imply that it was involved in a conventional war which despite the suggestion, in some quarters that a nuclear war with Russia is imminent, you can sure that event is never going to happen.

The next obvious conclusion would be that Germany was to suffer a nationwide climatic or similar event which would render all essential services, such as gas, electric and water supplies, inoperable. Given, even in the unlikely event that such a scenario was to happen, the recommendations of the plans for stockpiling food and water would be futile given the severity of the impact that such an event would cause.

So what is realistically left and what would event could most likely cause the need for a population to stockpile such essentials? This author would suggest that the meltdown of the banking system in any nation could be the trigger for precisely such a scenario unfolding. What is abundantly clear is that there is a systemic risk unfolding relating to the collapse of the Western financial system. If this was to ever happen, and I am not suggesting it is a formality, then the risk to all essential services, including access to food and water, would be a genuine possibility. Furthermore, the need for the people of any nation to galvanise with their armed services would never be more apparent.

What is also clear is that any nation suggesting that we must prepare for a future catastrophe or event would most definitely not include reference to risks to their financial system which underpins the very fabric of their society. Not least that it could precipitate bank runs which would, by their very nature, cause the very financial crisis that we have outlined here.

Whilst there are no hard and fast answers to why this announcement regarding the stockpiling of food and water has been made now, the timing most certainly is of interest. The spectre of a deepening financial crisis remains the most obvious existential threat to any country on a nationwide basis, but time will tell whether the need to rollout such a plan ever comes to fruition. I suspect though we may just find out in the remaining months of 2016.

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