Dutch famine of 1944–45

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Dutch children eating soup during the famine of 1944-45 BC856 HUI-2050.jpg
Dutch children eating soup during the famine of 1944–45
Two Dutch women carrying food during the famine period Twee deelnemers aan de hongertochten tijdens de hongerwinter.jpg
Two Dutch women carrying food during the famine period

The Dutch famine of 1944–45, known in the Netherlands as the Hongerwinter (literal translation: hunger winter), was a famine that took place in the German-occupied Netherlands, especially in the densely populated western provinces north of the great rivers, during the winter of 1944–45, near the end of World War II.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands, informally Holland, is a country in Northwestern Europe with some overseas territories in the Caribbean. In Europe, it consists of 12 provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with those countries and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. In the northern parts of the country, Low German is also spoken.

Famine widespread scarcity of food followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality

A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was generally Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

A German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm towns. Some 4.5 million were affected and survived thanks to soup kitchens. Loe de Jong (1914–2005), author of The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II , estimated at least 22,000 deaths occurred due to the famine. [1] Another author estimated 18,000 deaths from the famine. [2] [3] Most of the victims were reportedly elderly men. [4] [5]

Loe de Jong Dutch historian

Louis "Loe" de Jong, a Dutch historian, specialised in the Netherlands in World War II and the Dutch resistance.

<i>The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II</i> book series

The Kingdom of the Netherlands During World War II is the standard reference on the history of the Netherlands during World War II. The series was written by Loe de Jong (1914–2005), director of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation, and was published between 1969 and 1991. The series contains 14 volumes, published in 29 parts. De Jong was commissioned to write the work in 1955 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The first volume appeared in 1969, and de Jong wrote his last in 1988. The final volume, containing critique and responses, appeared in 1991.

The famine was alleviated by the liberation of the provinces by the Allies in May 1945. Prior to that, bread baked from flour shipped in from Sweden, and the airlift of food by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces – under an agreement with the Germans that if the Germans did not shoot at the mercy flights, the Allies would not bomb the German positions – helped to mitigate the famine. These were Operations Manna and Chowhound. Operation Faust also trucked in food to the province.[ citation needed ]

Royal Air Force Aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Royal Canadian Air Force Air warfare branch of Canadas military

The Royal Canadian Air Force is the air force of Canada. Its role is to "provide the Canadian Forces with relevant, responsive and effective airpower". The RCAF is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2013, the Royal Canadian Air Force consists of 14,500 Regular Force and 2,600 Primary Reserve personnel, supported by 2,500 civilians, and operates 258 manned aircraft and 9 unmanned aerial vehicles. Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger is the current Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Chief of the Air Force Staff.

United States Army Air Forces aerial warfare branch of the United States army from 1941 to 1947

The United States Army Air Forces, officially known as the Army Air Forces, was the aerial warfare service component of the United States Army during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which on 2 March 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.

Causes

Dutch food ration coupons from World War II Voedselbonnen-01.jpg
Dutch food ration coupons from World War II
A letter of commemoration given to a grocer whose shop served as a Red Cross point giving out the "Swedish bread" RodeKruisWinkelOorkonde.JPG
A letter of commemoration given to a grocer whose shop served as a Red Cross point giving out the "Swedish bread"
Operation Manna - "Many Thanks" written in tulips, Holland, May 1945. Operation Manna - Many Thanks In Tulips.jpg
Operation Manna – "Many Thanks" written in tulips, Holland, May 1945.

Towards the end of World War II, food supplies became increasingly scarce in the Netherlands. After the landing of the Allied Forces on D-Day, conditions grew increasingly bad in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. The Allies were able to liberate the southern part of the country, but these efforts came to an abrupt halt when Operation Market Garden, the attempt seize a bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem, failed.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Operation Market Garden Allied military operation, Netherlands, WW2

Operation Market Garden was a failed World War II military operation fought in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. It was the brainchild of Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, planned primarily by Generals Brereton and Williams of the USAAF. The airborne part of the operation was undertaken by the First Allied Airborne Army with the land operation by XXX Corps of the British Second Army. The objective was to create a 64 mi (103 km) salient into German territory with a bridgehead over the River Rhine, creating an Allied invasion route into northern Germany. This was to be achieved by seizing a series of nine bridges by Airborne forces with land forces swiftly following over the bridges. The operation succeeded in liberating the Dutch cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen along with many towns, creating a 60 mi (97 km) salient into German-held territory limiting V-2 rocket launching sites. It failed, however, to secure a bridgehead over the Rhine, halting at the river.

Rhine River in Western Europe

The Rhine is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in a mostly northerly direction through Germany and the Netherlands, emptying into the North Sea. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

The Allied advance into Germany was delayed by supply problems as the port of Antwerp was not useable until the approaches had been cleared in the Battle of the Scheldt. But Montgomery had given priority to "Market Garden"; and to the capture of the French Channel ports like Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk, which were resolutely defended and had suffered demolitions, see Operation Market Garden . [6]

Battle of the Scheldt battle in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands during World War II

The Battle of the Scheldt in World War II was a series of military operations led by the First Canadian Army, with Canadian, Polish and British units attached, to open up the shipping route to Antwerp so that its port could be used to supply the Allies in north-west Europe. Under acting command of the First Canadian's Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds, the battle took place in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands from October 2 to November 8, 1944.

Bernard Montgomery Senior British Army officer

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein,, nicknamed "Monty" and "The Spartan General", was a senior British Army officer who fought in both the First World War and the Second World War.

After the national railways complied with the exiled Dutch government's appeal for a railway strike starting September 1944 to further the Allied liberation efforts, the German administration (under Wehrmachtbefehlshaber Friedrich Christiansen) retaliated by placing an embargo on all food transports to the western Netherlands. By the time the embargo was partially lifted in early November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water, the unusually early and harsh winter had already set in. The canals froze over and became impassable for barges.

Nederlandse Spoorwegen national rail operator of the Netherlands

Nederlandse Spoorwegen is a Dutch state-owned company, the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands. Founded in 1938, NS provides rail services on the Dutch main rail network. The Dutch rail network is the busiest in the European Union, and third busiest in the world after Switzerland and Japan.

Friedrich Christiansen German flying ace

Friedrich Christiansen was the commander of the German Wehrmacht in the occupied Netherlands during World War II. He was convicted for war crimes after the war. During World War I, he was flying ace who claimed shooting down twenty planes and an airship; he was credited with thirteen of those claims.

Food

British soldiers serving food to Dutch children at a St Nicholas Day party in Holland, 7 December 1944. British soldiers serving food to Dutch children at a St Nicholas Day party in Holland, 7 December 1944. B12555.jpg
British soldiers serving food to Dutch children at a St Nicholas Day party in Holland, 7 December 1944.
Malnourished Dutch child in The Hague BC856 HUI-2004.jpg
Malnourished Dutch child in The Hague

Food stocks in the cities in the western Netherlands rapidly ran out. The adult rations in cities such as Amsterdam dropped to below 1000  calories (4,200  kilojoules) a day by the end of November 1944 and to 580 calories in the west by the end of February 1945. [7] Over this Hongerwinter ("Hunger winter"), a number of factors combined to cause starvation in especially the large cities in the West of the Netherlands. The winter in the month of January 1945 itself was unusually harsh prohibiting transport by boat for roughly a month between early January 1945 and early February 1945. Also, the German army destroyed docks and bridges to flood the country and impede the Allied advance. Thirdly, Allied bombing made it extremely difficult to transport food in bulk, since Allied bombers could not distinguish German military and civilian shipments. As the south-eastern (the Maas valley) and the south-western part of the Netherlands (Walcheren and Beveland) became one of the main western battlefields, these conditions combined to make the transport of existing food stocks in large enough quantities nearly impossible.

The areas affected were home to 4.5 million people. Butter disappeared after October 1944, shortly after railway transport to the western parts of the Netherlands had stopped in September due to the railway strike. The supply of vegetable fats dwindled to a minuscule seven-month supply of 1.3 liters per person. At first 100 grams of cheese were allotted every two weeks; the meat coupons became worthless. The bread ration had already dropped from 2,200 to 1,800 and then to 1,400 grams per week. Then it fell to 1,000 grams in October, and by April 1945 to 400 grams a week. Together with one kilogram of potatoes, this then formed the entire weekly ration. The black market increasingly ran out of food as well, and with the gas and electricity and heat turned off, everyone was very cold and very hungry. [8] In search of food, young strong people would walk for tens of kilometers to trade valuables for food at farms. Tulip bulbs and sugar beets were commonly consumed. Furniture and houses were dismantled to provide fuel for heating.

In the last months of 1944, in anticipation of the coming famine, tens of thousands of children were brought from the cities to rural areas where many remained until the end of the war. Deaths in the three big cities of the Western Netherlands (The Hague, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam) started in earnest in December 1944, reaching a peak in March 1945, [9] but remained very high in April and May 1945. In early summer 1945 the famine was brought quickly under control. From September 1944 until May 1945 the deaths of 18,000 Dutch people were attributed to malnutrition as the primary cause and in many more as a contributing factor. [7]

End of the famine

The Dutch Famine ended with the liberation by the Allies of the western Netherlands in May 1945. Shortly before that, some relief had come from "Swedish bread", which was baked in the Netherlands from flour shipped in from Sweden. Shortly after these shipments, the German occupiers allowed coordinated air drops of food over German-occupied Dutch territory by the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force from 29 April to 7 May (Operation Manna), and by the U.S. Army Air Forces from 1 to 8 May (Operation Chowhound). The Germans agreed not to shoot at the planes flying the mercy missions, and the Allies agreed not to bomb German positions. Operation Faust also trucked in food to Rhenen beginning on 2 May, utilizing 200 vehicles. Rhenen was also occupied by the Germans.

Legacy

The Dutch famine of 1944–45 was a rare case of a famine which took place in a modern, developed, and literate country, albeit one suffering under the privations of occupation and war. The well-documented experience has helped scientists to measure the effects of famine on human health.

The Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study [10] found that the children of pregnant women exposed to famine were more susceptible to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, microalbuminuria and other health problems. [11]

Moreover, the children of the women who were pregnant during the famine were smaller, as expected. However, surprisingly, when these children grew up and had children those children were thought to also be smaller than average. [12] This data suggested that the famine experienced by the mothers caused some kind of epigenetic changes that were passed down to the next generation. Despite this, a subsequent study by the same author failed to find a correlation between maternal exposure to famine and birth weight of the next generation. [13]

The discovery of the cause of coeliac disease may also be partly attributed to the Dutch famine. With wheat in very short supply there was an improvement at a children's ward of coeliac patients. Stories tell of the first precious supplies of bread being given specifically to the (no longer) sick children, prompting an immediate relapse. Thus in the 1940s the Dutch paediatrician Dr. Willem Dicke [14] was able to corroborate his previously researched hypothesis that wheat intake was aggravating coeliac disease. [15] Later Dicke went on to prove his theory.

Audrey Hepburn spent her childhood in the Netherlands during the famine and despite her later wealth she had lifelong negative medical repercussions. She suffered from anemia, respiratory illnesses, and œdema as a result. [16]

Subsequent academic research on the children who were affected in the second trimester of their mother's pregnancy found an increased incidence of schizophrenia in these children. [17] Also increased among them were the rates of schizotypal personality and neurological defects. [18]

Some studies have suggested that epigenetic damage caused by the famine has caused increased morbidity in the grandchildren of Hongerwinter survivors. [19]

See also

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References

Notes

  1. "Uitzending Gemist – Vroeger & Zo De hongerwinter – 1944" (video) (in Dutch). Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  2. van der Zee, Henri A. (1998), The Hunger Winter: Occupied Holland 1944–1945, University of Nebraska Press, pp. 304–05.
  3. Barnouw, David (1999), De hongerwinter, p. 52, ISBN   9789065504463
  4. Banning, C. (1946), "Food Shortage and Public Health, First Half of 1945", Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 245 (The Netherlands during German Occupation (May 1946)): 93–110, doi:10.1177/000271624624500114, JSTOR   1024809
  5. "Slachtoffers Hongerwinter in kaart gebracht". nos.nl (in Dutch).
  6. Beevor, Antony (2014) [2012]. The Second World War. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 766. ISBN   978-1-7802-2564-7.
  7. 1 2 Z. Stein, (1975). Famine and Human Development: The Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944–1945.
  8. Banning (1946), p 93
  9. The number of officially reported extra deaths in March 1945 in The Hague alone was 1,380; part of this number probably also included identified victims from Allied bombardments (550 deaths on March 2 (see Bombing of the Bezuidenhout) and German reprisals, on the other hand not all extra deaths were included in this number (in a bureaucracy there is no death without a(n identified) body).
  10. Carried out by the departments of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Gynecology and Obstetrics and Internal Medicine of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, in collaboration with the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit of the University of Southampton in Britain.
  11. Dutch Famine of 1944 (bibliography), HK: UST, archived from the original on 19 February 2007, retrieved 19 February 2007.
  12. Painter, RC; Osmond, C; Gluckman, P; Hanson, M; Phillips, DI; Roseboom, TJ (September 2008). "Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine on neonatal adiposity and health in later life". BJOG : An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 115 (10): 1243–9. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2008.01822.x. PMID   18715409.
  13. Stein, AD; Lumey, LH (August 2000). "The relationship between maternal and offspring birth weights after maternal prenatal famine exposure: the Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study". Hum. Biol. 72 (4): 641–54. PMID   11048791.
  14. van Berge-Henegouwen, G; Mulder, C (1993). "Pioneer in the gluten free diet: Willem-Karel Dicke 1905–1962, over 50 years of gluten free diet" (PDF). Gut . 34 (11): 1473–5. doi:10.1136/gut.34.11.1473. PMC   1374403 . PMID   8244125.
  15. Dicke, WK (1950), Coeliakie: een onderzoek naar de nadelige invloed van sommige graansoorten op de lijder aan coeliakie (PhD thesis), Utrecht, NL: University of Utrecht .
  16. Garner, Lesley (26 May 1991), "Lesley Garner meets the legendary actress as she prepares for this week's Unicef gala performance", The Sunday Telegraph , archived from the original on 17 January 2005.
  17. Brown, AS; Susser, ES (November 2008). "Prenatal Nutritional Deficiency and Risk of Adult Schizophrenia". Schizophr Bull . 34 (6): 1054–63. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbn096. PMC   2632499 . PMID   18682377.
  18. Walker, Elaine E; Cicchetti, Dante (2003). Neurodevelopmental mechanisms in psychopathology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 88–93. ISBN   978-0-521-00262-2.
  19. Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2 May 2016). "Breakthroughs in Epigenetics". The New Yorker . Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. A decade ago, when the grandchildren of men and women exposed to the famine were studied, they, too, were reported to have had higher rates of illness.

Bibliography

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