Surrogate coffees and tabaccos

Copyright Picture
Surrogate coffee and tobacco were a thing during the Second World War
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As a citizen of The Netherlands, I have learned quite a lot about the Second World War. We would joke it was the only thing we learned in secondary school during our history lessons. I’ve studied the Anne Frank journals, I’ve visited the Anne Frank-house in Amsterdam, and I’ve visited Kamp Westerbork. I’ve seen ‘Schindler’s List,’ as it was shown to us in the second year of secondary school.

WW2 Expert

Reading the news nowadays, I feel like I’m an expert on WW2. I’m not, really, what I’ve stated above is about all I studied on the war. It bugs me to no end that people nowadays dare to deny the Holocaust, calling it a hoax. Or that politicians suggest vaccinated children should wear a visible mark on their clothing. Does that upset no one? Does no one think: wait, we tried this in the 1940s, and it led to a catastrophe?


I see the rumbling of unrest in both America and Europe, and it scares the life out of me. My generation and people younger than me have only known prosperity. The supermarket has always been stocked, the doctor is available (though for some more than for others financially.) People are free to do and say as they please. Things haven’t always been this way, but both younger and older generations take this freedom for granted.
Of course, there’s electricity, running water and plumbing everywhere, more food available than you could eat, freedom to express yourself no matter your opinion.

Candles and Bombs

My one grandmother who lived through the Second World War always had a large stack of candles in her house for the rest of her life. She had known the dark.
My other grandmother, so I learned at her funeral, had lost everything but one doll when her house was bombed by the Germans during the War. Can you imagine that? Being six years old and not having a bed, or home to return to anymore?
That’s what war means.

Soap, Shampoo and Lots of Coffee

I know other families saved up on stacks and stacks of soap, shampoo, detergent and coffee after the war, for the rest of their lives. Does the younger generation understand what this means? That not only no Starbucks would be available anymore, but there was no coffee anywhere in the country. Only the very rich and fortunate had access to luxuries like soap, coffee and chocolate.

All I Need

I think of this often. When lockdown began, we decided to stop visiting supermarkets and only order online. This meant I can’t have my favourite products from Lidl anymore. It bummed me out, but you know what? I consider myself so fortunate that I have the means to order online and that 99 per cent of my groceries are available in the store I order from now. They don’t sell my favourite flavour of herbal tea or the candy my cats enjoy, but so what? I’m lucky to have access to the broadest range of products available to anyone in history. I’ll make do.

I am very conscious of my freedoms. I mean, here I am, writing and publishing out sex, available to all who can read. For now, I’m free to do so.

Free, But For How Long?

I’m aware of the horrors of war. I’ve seen the movies, read the books and visited the museums. The way things are going at the moment, I think I’ll have to agree with my husband’s late grandmother. She said every generation will see war, either between countries or a civil war. We’re definitely headed that way now. I don’t know if it’s going to be between religions, races or about territory. I’m convinced I won’t always have the luxury of running a sex blog from home while ordering all the food I need. I might need to stock up on candles, soap and coffee because the war has definitely been forgotten.

A complete collection of pictures from the Second World War in The Netherlands can be found here:

This is my blog about another event during World War 1:

Lessons from Our Past: Music Transcends – Lili Marlene

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  1. Brilliant post Liz – Thank you so much for writing it and linking it up – Just want to say – ohhh i sooo get this…

    ” Or that politicians suggest vaccinated children should wear a visible mark on their clothing. Does that upset no one? Does no one think: wait, we tried this in the 1940s, and it led to a catastrophe?”

    and as you would expect already worries me.

    May xx

    1. It’s as if today’s politicians have no sense of history at all. We had some fires in heathlands here last year and everyone was so upset. The plants! The vegetation! The animals! But you know what? In the past, people would set these fields on fire every couple of years because they had learned it was beneficial for the ground and for the vegetation.
      I have learned this in primary school, so why haven’t they?

  2. Liz having grown ups with a Grandfather who was at Pearl Harbor, Grandmother who always had a month’s worth of more of canned goods in the basement, and parents who hoarded everything because they were that generation who grew up without.

    We are blessed.

    Thanks for your memories and I agree many have forgotten history’s lessons.
    Hopefully we are
    Turning a corner but only time
    Will tell

    1. The war wasn’t talked about in my family. What I write in my post is all I’ve been able to gather throughout the years, together with my grandmother’s disgust for the German language.
      I don’t know what my grandfathers have done during the war. It simply wasn’t mentioned.

      It sounds like your grandmother was similar to my husband’s. My mother in law is still using soap they found in her house after she passed away.

      Today’s generation simply doesn’t care. I recently read a comment by someone who said: I wish we could go back to how we were living before in simple villages with a simpler lifestyle. But I don’t think they realise that would mean food and clothing and healthcare wouldn’t be available as it is today.

      You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      1. You’re welcome.
        Having done living history recreation I know the good parts and have studied the bad.
        Simpler is achievable even today. It’s all a question of choices.
        Choosing days to go electronic less. Doing hobbies that reach for the simple, blacksmithing, baking, wood working with hand tools, hiking, bicycling, kayaking, sailing. Silent sports and motor-less.
        Living off the grid but still choosing modern healthcare. Doable just beyond the norm.

        1. I agree that in a living history situation, it’s certainly doable. I’ve been close to the living history society multiple times, so I’ve seen it from up close. My husband once smithed his own fence. We definitely have affinity with these things.

          Maybe it was my arrogance, but I read it as if this person had a romantic view of what such a village and society would be like, while at the same time dismissing and disregarding all the luxuries we have here in the western society.

  3. Great post Liz, you’ve made me take stock of my own thoughts around freedom. Especially with food shopping. In my marriage the abuse was, in part, financial. When I was allowed to spend money on food I’d stock up (dry, non-perishables) so that I could feed myself and the children. I had a blip last year and the next pay day my freezer was filled to the gunnels. I feel like your grandmother with her candles. Though my experience was on a much smaller scale than a world war.

    1. I’m sorry you had to go through that ?
      I don’t think the scale matters to your experience. The difference is that when my grandmother went through this, the whole world was experiencing the same tragedies. I hope you’re in a better place now, blips or not ☺️

      1. It is all part of lifes rich tapestry, and my picture is so much prettier for not being there anymore.

        I cant begin to imagine what it must have felt like for people going through wartime, tragedy is the right word.

  4. Thank you Liz for writing this very thought provoking post. It has given me much food for thought. You speak with so much sense and I agree with all you say..

    I know Dutch history quite well. Two years ago my wife and I went to the Museum of Resistance in Amsterdam which we both thought told the story very well indeed and at the moment I am half way through “The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found” by Bart van Es. The true story of a Jewish girl in the Netherlands in WW2.

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  6. I like my luxuries. I like the freedom to choose. These would not be available if we lived in simpler times. And as anyone knows the past was not simpler, just different.
    Be well , stay safe. And I would love to see your husband’s fence.

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