Photograph showing refugees waiting at a mobile canteen in Holland during the Second World War

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Under the occupation between 1940 and 1945 by Nazi Germany, the Dutch civilian population suffered especially harshly during World War Two. Unsurprisingly therefore, it was a country that the Red Cross focused its relief operations on.

The photograph gives an idea of the cruelties that befell people of various nationalities across Europe in this period. The photograph also speaks of the fact that, in the latter stages of World War Two, parts of Holland suffered terribly in what became known as the hunger winter. During this time civilians were forced to trade their valuables with farmers for food. Gas and electricity were in short supply, and for a long time it was difficult to distribute coal and foodstuffs around the country. In total, thousands of people would die of famine in areas of Holland.

In the parts of Holland occupied by Nazi Germany, the Red Cross could do little to alleviate the affects of the food shortages. Therefore, there was a sharp contrast between those who could receive aid and those who couldn’t be reached.

Audio by Gareth Donkin (Volunteer), Cardiff
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