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Victims of the Hunger Winter (“Hongerwinter”) (in numbers)

The number of excess deaths during the Hunger Winter is not exactly known. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to make even a remotely accurate estimate. Solid information about the number of deaths during the last winter of the war is scarce, except for Amsterdam.

In Het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog (‘The Kingdom of the Netherlands During the Second World War’), vol. 10b (The Hague 1981), Dr. L. de Jong wrote: “We conclude that in the western part of the country, the total number of direct and indirect victims of the Hunger Winter amounted to more than 22,000 people" (p. 219). Based on recent research, Ingrid de Zwarte draws the same conclusion (De Hongerwinter (‘The Dutch Hunger Winter’, Amsterdam, 2019) p. 75). G.M.T. Trienekens, however, writes in his book Tussen ons volk en de honger; De Voedselvoorziening 1940-1945 (‘Between our People and the Hunger; Food supply 1940-1945’, Utrecht 1985) that "in the first half of 1945 in the western part of the Netherlands, the excess mortality amounted to 16,000 compared to the same period in the previous year. A small number for rural areas should be added to this number. About half of the number mentioned died of 'hunger and/or cold'. How much of the remaining excess mortality is due to lack of food is difficult to say, but without a doubt hunger is the main cause of the excess mortality" (p. 406). Hein A.M. Klemann cautiously states that the Hunger Winter “took the lives of several tens of thousands of people, which was less than 1% of the population of the famine area" (Nederland 1938-1948; economie en samenleving in jaren van oorlog en bezetting, ‘The Netherlands 1938-1948; Economy and society in years of war and occupation’, (Amsterdam 2002) p. 467).

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