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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Stealing food to survive

Food shortages were everywhere. After people had given their valuables and there was nothing else left, they started to steal from each other. In our area there were many farm fields with wheat, potatoes and so much other produce. Groups of people went into the fields and filled up bags with potatoes and carried them home. The farmers who owned the land didn't dare to chase people off their property. In the northern part of Holland where the nurseries are, people went to the bulb fields and cooked tulip bulbs to survive.

I went around at night and stole food wherever I could find it. One night I was very lucky. A farmer had left his seeding machine filled with wheat in the field. The machine was in the middle of the field. It was night time and I went home to get an empty pillow case. I made several trips to empty the machine. It supplied us for a long time with wheat to bake our bread.

Wheat Bread 
Bread Recipes

My mother would dry the wheat in the oven and with a small coffee grinder which was manually operated we made our own flour. In the summer the farmers would always cut the wheat in the fields and stacked them together to dry. Many heads of the wheat that had fallen off lay in the fields. I would spend my day in the field picking heads of wheat. It took a long time to fill up a bag with heads of wheat. Sometimes if there was nobody around, I would cut off the heads of wheat from the stacks the farmer had put up to dry. There was a sour green leaf in the field which before I only picked for my rabbits to eat. My mother made a salad dish out of it or cooked it as a vegetable. These were all ways of supplementing our food income during the war. Chicken or any type of livestock couldn't be kept around the house. There wasn't enough food to feed them and many of them were stolen during the night. Most people in our town had small gardens in back of their house. Many of those gardens had fruit trees. During the day I would walk around the neighborhood and look for a tree that had too much fruit on it and steal some of it during the night. There was nothing in the stores to buy so you had to steal.

We missed so many classes as there were always so many air raids at night and during the day. So we kids were not able to go to school. We spent all night in the underground shelter. The German cities were bombed night after night. It was clearly noticeable that it was affecting the German warfare. More and more German war equipment was leaving Holland, and the German soldiers were retreating into Germany by the hundreds. You could always hear the heavy steps of the foot soldiers, whenever they came in large groups, because of the boots they wore. Those boots made a lot of noise.

All their light artillery was pulled by the horses. The soldiers camped at our neighborhood farms. Especially with all the artillery equipment they had, it was a good place for camouflage so they would not be seen by the allied bombers. Also the farms were a good place to feed their horses. We kids would always hang around the soldiers as we were always looking for some hand-outs of food. But the German soldiers had hardly enough for themselves.

The Germans had invented a new weapon - a flying rocket. On clear days we could see them in the air. It looked like a large bomb with a large motor behind it. All these flying rockets had a mechanism that was set to reach their point of target. Sometimes these mechanical settings failed and then those rockets would come straight down. Most of those rockets were set to fly to England and Belgium. Day and night those rockets were flying over our town. Those rockets made a lot of noise. During the day you could see them, but at night it was a scary feeling because you never knew when this motor might stop. Those rockets were very powerful bombs and did a lot of damage. Whenever those flying rockets came over our town during the night we stayed in our underground shelter. The underground shelter in our back yard had become our regular living quarters. Day and night the B-24 liberator bombers were flying over our town. The sky was just loaded with hundreds of planes. All of those planes were flying in a V formation. Those planes had tons of bombs. We felt sorry for those German people who lived in the cities where the bombs would be dropped. Also for the pilots in the planes, many of them would never return to their base. Sometimes they bombed cities close to our border line and it made the ground tremble.

German V-1 Flying Bomb
German V-1 Flying Bomb

CONTINUED: The Germans start to retreat from Belgium
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
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