World War II: The Netherlands--Post-War Conditions

Figure 1.--This is what The Hague, one of the historic Dutch cities, looked like after the War. The photograph was taken Mrch 21, 1946, year after the War and rebuilding had not yet began. The press cption read, "Static is the word for post-war Holland: The reconstruction period in post-war Holland is the forgetting period. The Dutch, tortured by four-years of German occupation , are doing their best to wipe out the memory with a nationa iag. It isn't that the Dutch do not want to resume their march ofprogress along th paths of peace. It is that they do not have the wherewithall with which to do it. Today, ten months after the end of the war in Europe, there are vast areas of bombed cities, that look just as they did in war days. Thee is no building mterial, no machinery, apparentlyh bo planning. Greatest activity is seen in the night spots that polka-dot all the large cities. Theyare lways jammed to the doors. An American could never understand why prices are of stratospheric heights, quality of food and drink is poor and entertainment is practicall non-existent. One round of inferior liquor for four people runs aabout six dollars. When legitimate places close at 1 AM, the lgions of speakeasies begin to pack 'em in their poorly-heated rathskeller. Where does the money come from? Deponent knoweth not, but it is thereand it is cheerfullybpaid out by Hollanders who are trying to forgetvthe pastand not worry too much about the future. The following photos were made by Ray Rising, who flew to Holland on the maiden flight of American Airlines which innagurated air service to Holland."

The Netherlands was badly damaged by the War. Some cities were paryicularly hard hit. Rotterdam, Arnhem and Nijmegen were among the most heavily damaged. The homes of many people were destroyed aking with factories abd businesses. Of the 25,000 homes in Arnhem, only 145 were left intact. Roads and railwats were damagd. Bridges were priotity tagets. Many were destroyed. Building material to rpair the damage was scarce. And few people had the money to buy what was needed. Food was in short supply. The Netherlands was not self-suffient in food production, but it was important to produce as much as possible. Here a problem was all the land mines mostly the Germans had planted. German POWs were put to work clearing them. What food was avilable was rationd. Jobs were almost non-existent. Which meant that money was not available to repair the damage. It was a vicious cycle. Conditions would not improve until the economy improved, but the damage was so sevre that economy coukd not recovr until rebuilding began and conditions improved. The situation in the Netherlands were so difficult after the War that several hundred thousand Dutch people emmigrated, primarily to Australia, Canada, and the United States. One Dutch reader tells us, "Right after the liberation food was the most important item. Then clothes. The year 1945 was still very chaotic. My younger brother returned home after having spent the rest of the war at a farm in the province of Overijsel. He left home when he was 15 years old--"before I starve to death here" he said and just left. We did not know what happened to him until after the War. He walked many days before he found a farmer who could use him with the work. My brother kept in touch with that farm family because they treated him like a son. At first there was no work available but all that changed in 1946. All of a sudden there were more job openings than people to fill them. I started working in the book and publishing business. In the beginning my German name created some difficulties, because the Dutch hated everything German." [Stueck]


Stueck, Rudi. E-mail message, June15, 2010.



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Created: 12:54 PM 2/17/2018
Last updated: 12:54 PM 2/17/2018