A special group within the post-World War II Dutch baby boom were children fathered by the Allied soldiers, our liberators. These are the “liberation children” (in Dutch, “bevrijdingskinderen”).
The Allied soldiers who arrived in the Netherlands were healthy men who looked handsome and heroic in their uniforms. And the cigarettes, chewing gum and chocolate in their pockets added to their appeal. With the last fighting done, these Allied soldiers were in need of diversion.
And young Dutch women had not had interesting male company for some time, as most Dutch men between 18 and 45 had been in Germany as labourers or as prisoners of war, in hiding in the east or north of the Netherlands, or had hardly been out in months because of raids by the Germans.
Even in the last months of the war when liberation was on the way, there had been little entertainment in The Hague. You were not allowed on the street in the evening, and at home there was little to do. Without electricity, there was no radio, nor light to read by. Food and heating fuel remained hard to obtain. Without food and in the cold the atmosphere at home must have been very tense.
In the newspapers, there was much commentary on the free relations of Dutch women with Allied soldiers. For example, on 31 May 1945, Het Binnenhof (at that time the ‘Roman Catholic Daily Newspaper for ‘s-Gravenhage and surroundings’) featured an editorial with the title “Women’s honour”.
In it, the editor expresses dismay about the behaviour of young Dutch women towards Canadian soldiers. The writer understands that this is a reaction to five years of terror, deprivation and few pleasures.
But he goes on to warn that this momentary intoxication would result only in the moral misery of failed lives and ruined souls. ‘May the parents watch closely!’
At that time, there was little or no sex education in the Netherlands, let alone availability of contraceptives among the population. However, the Canadian and U.S. governments had begun issuing condoms to their military forces during the First World War.
It must be said that these governments did not do this primarily to prevent pregnancies among women in liberated areas. Rather, the purpose was to prevent major outbreaks of venereal diseases (VD) in many army units, as these diseases affected the fighting strength of the troops.
Despite army-issued condoms, an estimated 7,000 children conceived by Allied soldiers were born in the Netherlands. It took some time before there were enough ships to bring all Allied soldiers, especially Canadians, back to their country.
It was not until January 1946 that this repatriation was complete. Some of the mothers married the father of their child; the Canadian Embassy at Sophialaan in The Hague had set up a special section to arrange transfer of wives and fiancés of the soldiers to Canada.
But many liberation children never knew their fathers or did not know them until much later. On Youtube you can find a very interesting documentary about this so called ‘Bevrijdingskinderen‘ (in Dutch).
And there you will also find recordings of a song that was very popular at the time: ‘Trees heeft een Canadees (‘Trees has a Canadian’ – Trees is a first name, short for Teresa).
Do you like this article, share it using: