Saturday, 9 July 2011
I used the beautiful image of Union Station, Chicago from Sepia Saturday as a prompt for this post. Mine is not a fabulous picture, it has to be said, but it is a station during World War II, Amsterdam Centraalstation postmarked September 1942.
The station in Amsterdam is unusual in that it's built on three man-made islands using sand made available after the excavation of the North Sea Canal. Like many of the buildings in Amsterdam, it has wooden piles driven into the soil, over 8000 of them. It opened in 1889.
In this case though, the postmark "W.H.N. Loterij 1942" may be more interesting than the picture.
May 1940 was the date of the German invasion of the Netherlands. By October of that year, an organisation, WHP or Winterhulp Nederland, was set up by the German authorities to provide food, clothing and fuel for needy Dutch people. The funds were raised by street collections and lotteries. The postmark advertises the 1942 lottery, suggesting a one in three chance of winning, "Uw kans 1 op 3". In spite of efforts to seem impartial and trying to appear to be a Dutch organisation, the collections were done by the Dutch Nazi party so were very unpopular with ordinary Dutch people, especially after calls in the illegal press to give nothing. In an effort to encourage donations, you would receive a pin as a thank you, a different one for each season.
The card was addressed to one of the sons of a family who, by the end of the war were reduced to eating tulip bulbs. His sister told me, "They were not very nice but if it's all you have to eat, you eat them." Their father was in the resistance and they learnt at a very early age to hide when told and to keep absolutely silent. The winter of 1944 was known as the "Hongerwinter".
Posted by Sheila @ A Postcard a Day at 9.7.11