VE-Day countdown: Food prices soar in Dutch famine zone
Day by day, the news got better as the Second World War wound down in Europe. Sixty years ago, CBC Radio brought home reports of retreating Germans, freed prisoners of war, captured spies and surrender in Italy. But with the end of hostilities came dark news of hellish concentration camps, starving civilians and a rocky future for U.S.-Soviet relations. CBC Archives counts down the days to victory in Europe.
• The blockade was the Nazis' revenge on the Dutch government-in-exile. In September 1944 the government-in-exile, based in London, had ordered a railway strike to aid the Allies in their push to take the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen.
• In November the embargo was partially lifted to allow transportation of food by water (but not by rail or road).
• When winter came early, canals froze over and it was impossible to transport food to the cities.
• In October 1944 the supply of natural gas was cut off in Amsterdam, Holland's biggest city. Desperate for fuel to heat their homes, civilians chopped down trees in city parks and later turned to burning their furniture and tearing up streetcar tracks for the wood underneath.
• Use of electricity by civilians was forbidden in some parts of the country in December 1944.
• City dwellers walked long distances to forage for food and found ways to make tulip bulbs and sugar beets palatable. Farmers traded their food for clothing and jewelry.
• By November 1944 the typical daily adult ration in Holland was 1,000 calories. By the end of the war it was closer to 500 calories.
• In early 1945 coffee was selling for 35 to 55 cents a pound in Canada. Bread cost as little as 15 cents for two loaves.
Program: CBC War Recordings
Broadcast Date: April 22, 1945
Reporter: Peter Stursberg
Photo: National Archives of Canada / PA-145343
Last updated: September 2, 2014
Page consulted on September 2, 2014
All Clips from this Topic
Jubilant Dutch civilians greet Canadian soldiers as the Allies edge cl...
German soldiers are taken prisoner or left dead after trying to reclai...
Liberated Allied prisoners of war talk about the wretched living condi...
An RCAF reporter gets a rare glimpse of everyday life in wartime Germa...
The CBC's Matthew Halton wonders how Germans can doubt the existence o...
Guards are on the alert as the enemy attempts sabotage in the dying da...
The Allies overtake the German capital but still have to flush out Naz...
CBC reporter Matthew Halton talks to Russian soldiers as they cross a ...
Russian and American generals in Germany pledge their countries' frien...
An 18th-century palace is the backdrop as German commanders sign an un...
Dutch civilians are running for their lives after retreating Germans b...
War reporter Matthew Halton asks ordinary Germans about the brutal dea...
Day by day, the news got better as the Second World War wound down in ...