Tulip Bulbs and Bicycle dynamo- Surviving WWII, Dutch style.


Without trying to boast too much about my fellow Dutch folks,it is generally known that the Dutch are very inventive  and creative. Two skills which really came to fruition during WWII and especially the last few months of the war.

‘ As a result of the failure of ,Operation Market Garden’ the northern provinces had to endure a very harsh winter and famine.


With the exception of a few pockets of German resistance at the southern border regions, most of the south was liberated in September 1944.


For the North it was a different story After the national railways took heed of the request of the exiled Dutch government’s appeal for a railway strike starting September 1944 to further the Allied liberation efforts, the German occupiers  retaliated by placing an embargo on all food transports to the North and West Netherlands.By the time the embargo was partially lifted in early November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water, the unusually early and harsh winter had already set in. The canals froze over and became impassable for barges.


Over 20,000 people died during that time known as ‘the Hungerwinter’

Those who survived did so in part by eating what was still available: tulip bulbs. The government even published recipes to cook a nutritious meal with them. Below is one of those recipes.

1 cup of brown beans.
1 cup of tulip bulbs.
Onions (if available).
Curry-surrogate (if available).
Salt to taste (if available).
Marjoram to taste (if available).


  1. Cook the beans and bulbs until done.
  2. Let them cool and mix them together until you get a smooth paste.
  3. Fry the onion with the curry surrogate and add to the paste.
  4. Add salt and marjoram to taste.
  5. Form little balls of the paste and bake them in as little oil as possible

Throughout the war there were many power outages but that didn’t stop the Dutch. I remember the stories of my Mother and her siblings on how my Grandfather and some of the older siblings made sure that there still would be some light. But this was not only done in my family but by many families across the country

It was both easy and effective, easy as in setting it up, it did actually took some physical power to generate the energy.


A bicycle was put in the room and the back wheel would be taken off or at least secured to the floor to ensure the bike would remain stationery, very much in the same way as an modern exercise bike works, then the bike would be mounted by a senior male member of the family and he would start cycling. The Bicycle dynamo would convert that energy into light from the bicycle light.



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Dutch Ancestry Coach


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