The Dutch famine of 1944–45, known as the Hongerwinter (“Hunger winter”) in Dutch, was a famine that took place in the German-occupied part of the Netherlands, especially in the densely populated western provinces north of the great rivers, during the winter of 1944–45, near the end of World War II. A German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm areas. Some 4.5 million were affected and survived because of soup kitchens. As many as 22,000 may have died because of the famine.
Thirteen malnourished babies were taken in by the clandestine Princess Margriet Babyhuis (Lit. Baby House) in Groningen because of the widespread famine in Amsterdam. A group of ladies from Groningen, acting on the initiative of Sieneke Bones, decided to help these infants through the hard winter. People in Groningen supported the project with money and food.
The mothers faced a difficult choice: watch your child waste away or hand your baby over to complete strangers all the way in the north of the country? What was unique about this place is that the mothers got a letter almost every week describing the progress of their little ones: first words, teething, et cetera. Lots of those letters were saved, along with the entire administration of the Babyhuis, which was just one of the initiatives in a large-scale operation to save children during the Hungerwinter .
Primarily through the help provided by lots of churches, around 50,000 children from cities in the west of the Netherlands were cared for in the northern provinces. This most likely saved the lives of thousands.
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