Freedom and the Hongerwinter
“Oh man, the people were really pleased that it was finally over. And also around the same time, the Red Cross got permission to start dropping food while we were still officially occupied, but people were dying on the street. The situation was really really bad. And then you could see the airport on the other side, and you could see the parachutes coming down with all the food. But basically, the food didn’t get to us until after the liberation. It was all around the same time.
So I remember when the Germans capitulated. All of Holland, all the Netherlands, they were all celebrating like crazy. We had street parties all over the place for quite a while. I remember they had all kinds of things going on. And, you know, the biggest thing really was that we were getting food again. And then they started thinking about replacing all the stuff that was worn out, you know. I remember my father putting a bike together for me, but we had to wait for the tires because, again, the rubber was, you know, hard to get, so you were still getting rationing, I think. You had to wait before you got permission to buy a set of tires.”
Editor’s Note: Wanting to end the war by the end of 1944, the Allied forces created Operation Market Garden which intended to invade Northern Germany through the Netherlands. The failure of this campaign led to only some of the Netherlands being liberated with Allied forces halted at the Rhine River. German blockades of food and supplies from the non-liberated parts of the Netherlands led to thousands dying during the Hongerwinter, or the Dutch Famine of 1944-45. The famine ended when Allied forces were able to liberate the rest of the Netherlands in May 1945 as described by Hank above.