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What it means to be hungry

Heroes Remember

What it means to be hungry

Germany took all the food out of Holland, shipped it to Germany. I still remember, we were at the neighbours and she had some beet pole, sugar beets. Well we made them fine and she cooked them up and kept the sugar out of it and what was left over she cooked it, made a cake out of it, cut them in half and then some apples, made applesauce, put applesauce . . . that was the best cake I ever tasted in my life. We were that hungry. I've seen it, we were living on the channel and a guy came by with a boat with old potatoes, everybody dove off and see if they could find a good potato out of the rotten potatoes. A lot of people they were skin and bone in that time. My dad, he got a hold of a goat, you know and he butchered the goat so we had meats and some lard, you know, to fry in and stuff like that. And there was . . . whatever they got their hands on, you know, they killed it. We lost two dogs! I know, maybe not so nice to say... I had a barber with us, I said, he said to me one day, he says "You," it was in a little store where they sold cigarettes and cigars you know, he said "Did you see that cat?" I said "Yeah." He said "How are you going to get that out of the house?" He said "I don't know but I'm going to try it." Well I came three weeks later to get a haircut, he said "( inaudible )Where's the cat?" "Dammit," he said "he was good and fat!" And he killed it, and he eat it! Dog, there was, you didn't see no dogs either anymore, they were all butchered. Well, you didn't know any better anymore, you didn't know any better. No, you didn't know, that was the problem. And there was . . . well you get, you grow a little bit of potatoes yourself, you know, you get dry potatoes on your plate. Well, there wasn't meat for you, you didn't see anymore. That was one of the biggest problems you know. And a lot of people here can't realize what it is to be hungry. Then I start milking for a farmer and I can drink all the milk I could . . . free. That was a big help. So I milked about 17 cows everyday, every night, you know, after school. And I'd gather maybe a quart of milk in me by the time I got done, and then a quart of milk for mother, you know. And that was . . . that he let us sit there and get the cream off of it, you know to make something else out of it. If you, if you know a family who is really down, with a big family, well you make sure that what you've got to spare you take it over there. Or you . . . well where my girlfriend was living, next door neighbour there was a whole family, it was every night one could come to their place for dinner. Each would get a turn, you know. And that's why you were down you know, communication was fairly good, you know. Well we lived close to a little airfield you know, pretty fair size, and three of us we saw them coming over, the bombers you know. We saw the damn things coming out of the sky and we went way down as close to the airport as we could you know, and we found one of the containers. Tsk, tsk, tsk. We start eating, eating, eating. You got that real fat pork, you know. We had only, a jack knife and fork and you cut the top off, eat it! There was chocolate and everything and I got sicker than a dog. Sick, sick, the diarrhea. We was not used to that kind of food. Cigarettes, we were sitting on the channel and my uncle came by, he said "What'd you guys do?", smoking them, "Where the hell you get the cigarettes?" "Well you want a cigarette?" Well he sat down too and kept smoking and eating away you know. Came from the sky. And that was a lot of stuff was, got dropped there you know and that was collected you know. We got in one, I had rubber boots on and I could hardly work with all the stuff I got in the rubber boots! Well, you were so hungry.

Mr. Beukema describes surviving food shortages resulting from the occupation of Holland

Laurens Beukema

Mr. Beukema was born in Forbruk, Holland, in 1927. He and his family lived through the hardships caused by the German occupation and the subsequent joy of liberation by the Canadian army. After serving overseas for three years in the Dutch Army, Mr. Beukema and his wife moved to Canada. Although he visits Holland often, Mr. Beukema is proud to claim Canada as his home.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Laurens Beukema
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

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