THE DUTCH HUNGER WINTER: SIGNIFICANT EVENTS OF DUTCH HUNGER 1944-1945
The Dutch Hunger Winter, also known as the Hongerwinter in Dutch, was a year-long famine in the occupied Netherlands during the winters of 1944-45. It resulted from a combination of factors, including the Nazi blockade of food and fuel, a harsh winter, and a failed Allied operation. The famine had a devastating impact on the Dutch population, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 22,000 to 30,000 people.
The Nazi Blockade of Food and Fuel
Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands in 1940 and subjected the civilians to brutality. People were executed for being Jews. Others were mistreated and sentenced to life imprisonment for minor offences. As the war continued, Germany’s military position deteriorated, and the Allies decided to launch Operation Market Garden, a covert operation against their arch-enemy. A massive airborne assault was organized to secure key bridges in the Netherlands and pave the way for an advance into the German lands. The operation failed, and the Allied forces were forced to retreat, leaving much of the western part of the country cut off from the rest.
In retaliation, the Nazis implemented a blockade of food and fuel in the western part, the economic heart of the Netherlands. The blockade caused massive unrest in the population: Productivity decreased, and malnutrition started to take ground. 4.5 million people got affected, many of whom were forced to embezzle from the markets. All in all, it was a nightmare that needed to end soon.
The winter of 1944-1945 was one of the coldest on record, with temperatures reaching as low as -20 degrees Celsius. People lacked adequate heating and clothing to keep warm. The lack of food, fuel, and medical supplies led to a dramatic increase in mortality rates. Hospitals were full to the brim, unable to cope with rising numbers and food shortages. Diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, were spreading.
The situation was dire for infants and young children with limited amounts to feed upon. Many babies were born underweight, and infant mortality rates increased dramatically. Mothers could not breastfeed their children due to malnutrition. Processed milk was also a rare find in wholesale and retail markets.
The winters were tough for adults especially disabled elders. With no proper medical facilities and inadequate food available, many disabled adults faced severe hardships and some even lost their lives. Young children had to forego their education and step up to help their disabled parents.
Campaign Of Terror by The Nazis
The Dutch population was subjected to a horrendous campaign launched by the Nazis. People were forced to work in slave labor camps. Mass executions took place because of rising resistance, freedom fighters, and pro-Allied support. The population lived in constant fear of death and panic. To make matters worse, the Allied forces couldn’t make their move to end the suppression.
The situation improved in the Spring of 1945 when the Allies finally trespassed the German lines and liberated the people from the clutches of terror. However, the effects of the famine continued to be felt for years. Many individuals suffered from chronic diseases, stunted growth, and other problems.
Innocence Denied by Johannes Krane
The Dutch Hunger Winter is remembered as one of the darkest periods in the country’s history. It was a stark reminder of the brutal reality of war and its devastating impact on civilians. Many people suffered at the hands of Nazis; some were tortured, raped, and executed by soldiers, while others were imprisoned for life on petty issues.
Innocence Denied is a story about two brothers, the author, Johannes Krane, and his brother, Dick. Living with disabled parents became tough for the two boys, who had to manage chores and render support. The children stepped up to support their muted parents to save them from losing their lives.
This book talks about how because of the famine, the family supported their mother’s effort to trade on the black market and steal from businesses and the authorities. This practice was punishable by law, leading to the death penalty. Ultimately, the family survived the Germans’ wrath when the Allied forces took the reigns of the country in May 1945 providing hope to readers that even after all this suffering you can still have a successful life.
If you like to know about the famine of 1944-45 in Holland, purchase this book today.