My mother did not tell me much and no details on her experiences in World War 2, except for the Hongerwinter (“Hunger winter”) – the Dutch famine of 1944–45 – that she had to eat tulip bulbs.
As children in the 1950s our mother always told us to finish and clean our plates (and pretty large portions, served by our parents) , before being allowed to leave the table. The one thing we were regularly reminded of was the famine my mother and others had experienced…and that she even had to eat tulip bulbs – then a 16-year old teenager living (with her parents) in the city of The Hague during the Dutch famine of 1944–45.
The famine was caused by a German blockade plus the harsh winter blocking alternative water routes, that cut off food and fuel shipments to the western Netherlands were food stocks rapidly ran out in the large cities of The Hague, Rotterdam, and Amsterdam . Tulip bulbs and sugar beets were commonly consumed. Trees in The Hague city woods (like Scheveningse Bosjes shown in the film) were cut , and in the end furniture and houses were dismantled to provide fuel for heating.
When the famine was worst and deaths were reaching a peak , the Bezuidenhout neighbourhood of The Hague – were my mothers family lived – was bombed by British bomber crews with the wrong coordinates flying in fog and clouds, causing widespread death and destruction. More on that ‘Bombing of the Bezuidenhout’ later this month.
Menno Huizinga (1907–1947) took photographs illegally during the occupation , mainly in his hometown The Hague in Holland. He was a member of the group of Dutch photographers ‘De Ondergedoken Camera’ (1943-1945) – The Underground Camera – doing resistance work during the Second World War.
‘Eating Tulip Bulbs ~ Hunger Winter Holland 1944-1945’ is a silent film by Michel van der Burg , using photographs captured during this ‘Hunger winter’ 1944-1945 by Menno Huizinga in Holland (mainly in The Hague) from the public domain collection of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies , curated by Dutch Network War Collections (NOB) for WO2 Open Data Depot via Wikimedia Commons.
Photographs by Menno Huizinga, Holland 1944-1945 | NIOD | WO2 Open Data Depot | Wikimedia Commons.
Film : Eating Tulip Bulbs (20200325) by Michel van der Burg | Settela.com – CC BY 4.0