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Friday 1 December 2023

Friendship in a cardboard box

The Freedom Museum puts the spotlight on food assistance

On the 27th of November 2023, two empty cardboard boxes were revealed at the Freedom Museum. While this might not seem exciting, these everyday objects in fact contain a story about the history of food assistance. This story will be central to the mini exhibition ‘Object of Freedom’, a compact and ever-changing exhibition that continually tells new stories about freedom from the past to now.

One of the cardboard boxes is old, and once contained war rations: rice, chocolate and sugar. Edi Kuhn sent the box from the United States to the Dankers family in the Netherlands shortly after World War II. A German who had emigrated to America, Edi Kuhn had received food assistance from the Dankers family when he was a child in the 1920’s. Germany was plagued by famine at that time, and German children came to the Netherlands to receive extra sustenance. A good two decades later Edi could repay the family that helped him. Edi sent the box through the relief organisation CARE that was founded in the US on the 27th of November 1945.

The second box, directly next to the first one, is more modern and covered in CARE stickers. This box was used in 2023 to give food assistance to Ukrainian refugees. Its contents are also on display: soup, instant coffee and chocolate (among other things). CARE is now a global relief organisation that provides emergency relief, helps combat inequality and works to empower impoverished communities in the face of climate change, natural disasters and conflicts. A cardboard CARE box still often contains food, but sometimes also contains a tent and a sleeping bag, or toiletries. Aside from the aid provided to Ukraine, the Dutch division of CARE has recently provided aid to Soedan, Gaza, Morocco, Afghanistan, Turkey and Syria and other countries.

From the 27th of November (the date of CARE's 78th birthday) the museum will have the two boxes on display in the Freedom Square, surrounded by information, historical photographs, letters and interviews with stories of immigration, resistance, incarceration, friendship and the history of more than 100 years of food assistance. The mini exhibition will be on display up to and including the 2nd of June 2024.

Photo: A nurse feeds Dutch children from CARE packages, circa 1953. (Source: CARE)

Location: Freedom Museum, Wylerbaan 4, 6,561 KR Groesbeek
Date: 27 November 2023 until 2 June 2024
Information: call 024-3974404 or send an email to
Facebook: /vrijheidsmuseumNL; Twitter: @nooit1verhaal
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