The Betuwe as food store

The Netherlands

LiberationOccupationResistanceTerror and exterminationVictory and defeat




After the failure of Operation Market Garden in September 1944, the Betuwe suffers difficult times. For weeks, villages such as Oosterhout, Ressen and Bemmel are in the front line. The elderly, women and children have to be evacuated. The remaining men try to prevent looting and take care of the often-straying livestock and crops.

The Betuwe is traditionally a fertile area. So it’s hardly surprising there are many fruit growers here. Their apples, pears and cherries have been in demand for centuries.

When World War II broke out, the Germans quickly drew up strict regulations concerning the supply of fruit to Germany. The director of the fruit auction in Ressen cleverly attempts to find ways to avoid exporting ‘his fruit’ and only to export the worst quality fruit to Germany. He tries to keep the best fruit in the Netherlands.

In September 1944, the Betuwe finds itself in the front line. The Germans first use the auction hall as a munitions depot but it eventually goes up in flames. A desolate twisted mass of steel is the result. The fruit depots, full of fruit boxes, are spared. Weeks of heavy shelling follow in the area and it is becoming increasingly dangerous for the residents.

On Allied orders, the elderly, women and children are evacuated to Brabant. Over the following months, the remaining men carry on working as best as possible on ‘Men’s-island’, as the area is now called in the local vernacular.

The delivery and shipment of fruit, potatoes, beet and other crops stagnates. Indeed, there is hardly anyone available to help with harvesting. Moreover, due to constant shelling, it is often too dangerous to be exposed in the fields or orchards. The secretary in charge of the food supply in Ressen arranges that all available food is delivered to the right places.


Woerdsestraat 4, Ressen