1 June 2023

Postal Services during the Hunger Winter

Operation Market Garden started on September 17, 1944 by the Allied Forces and was aimed at capturing a series of bridges across the Maas, Waal and Rhine. Unfortunately, the operation failed at taking the last set of bridges at Arnhem across the Rhine. Consequently, the southern half of the Netherlands was liberated by the end of September, but the northern half remained occupied and mail delivery ceased between the North and South.

Furthermore, on September 17, 1944, the Dutch Government in London called for a railway strike. This made it very difficult to transport food from the agricultural areas to the urban areas, resulting in the “Hunger Winter.” The rail strike also made mail transport between the eastern, northern and western parts of occupied Holland impossible [1]. Much has been written about these mail delivery problems [1-4], but certain aspects remain unknown. However, a trove of letters exchanged between my wife’s parents provides some additional information.

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Ben Jansen

Ben Jansen

My current collection focus is on (correctly addressed but) undeliverable Netherland's mail. I am also the Editor of Netherlands Philately, the Magazine of the American Society of Netherlands Philately.

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