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15 October 2014
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WE ALSO ATE TULIP BULBS

by CSV Solent

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
CSV Solent
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A8158863
Contributed on: 
31 December 2005

This Interview took place in Holland in July 2005 J.H.Warmerdam (Hann)was interviewed by Henriette Wood-Grossenbacher. He was a school boy during the war growing up in Lisse, in the Dutch bulb growing area, where he still lives. He spent his working life in the flower bulb trade and is a dear friend to an aunt of mine. He gave permission to add his story to the BBC People’s War website.
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We also ate tulip bulbs. You got a rash from them as there are some chemicals in them your body doesn’t agree with. It was also because we were malnurished and did not have much resistance. We were vulnerable. Before you knew it you had a rash again and especially in the hair which made, that you got shorn bold. It was really in the hunger winter the winter 44/45, that’s when we had to eat tulip bulbs. Before that you could get things in the shops with coupons but in that hunger winter nothing at all was available. All that there was to eat got confiscated by the Germans and went to Germany. They didn’t think the tulips were tasty so we were allowed to eat them our selves. The Haarlemer meer aerea was planted up with grain and sugar beet but it was all confiscated. From the farmers in North- and South-Holland you could still get some food. The farmers didn’t want money. It would have been 500 guldens for 30kg of potatoes. But the money had no value any more. The farmers would take jewellery gold necklaces, rings, watches and the likes. They had wardrobes full of linnen bedclothes and such you could get something for that. You could get a little food with that. The farmers were not interested in money. You had to go to North Holland by bike or with a hand drawn wagon and people came all the way from den Hague by foot, for two or three day on the way. Say from den Hague to Alkmar is about 100 km there and back would be 200km for a handful of potatoes. We have seen them, for instance an old couple the two of them with a hand wagon and on the way back only one of them, and when you look under the tarpaulin in the cart there was the other one dead. You could get controlled on the way and have your things taken away from you.

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