Pogroms

I had a chat a few days ago with a friend. We were talking about the Holocaust and we both agreed that the Germans, specifically the German Nazis, were the main instigators and culprits of the world’s biggest crime. Without them, there may not have been a Holocaust or at least not on the scale.

However, the hate for Jews is not solely a German thing, there were many violent against the Jewish population of Europe and beyond. These acts have been happening for centuries. Even in the 11th and 12th centuries, there were Pogroms.

Before I go into some of the more recent Pogroms, it is important to understand what a Pogrom is. There are several definitions, following are just a few of them:

An organized massacre and looting of helpless people, usually with the connivance of officials, specifically, such a massacre of Jews.

A pogrom is generally thought of as a cross between a popular riot and a military atrocity, where an unarmed civilian, often urban, population is attacked by either an army unit or peasants from surrounding villages, or a combination of the two… Jews have not been the only group to suffer under this phenomenon, but historically Jews have been frequent victims of such violence. In mainstream usage, the word has come to imply an act of antisemitism.

Originally used to describe violent and often murderous anti-Jewish persecutions (the most important of which took place in Kishinev) in Russia following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, more recently the term ‘pogrom’, from the Russian pogrom (total destruction, devastation) has also been used to refer to attacks on other groups.

As I stated earlier this was not just a German phenomenon, the actual word comes from the Russian language. There were pogroms everywhere in Europe and other parts of the world. Even in a peaceful place like Limerick in Ireland, my hometown.

The Limerick Pogrom

On the evening of 11 January 1904, Fr John Creagh took the pulpit during mass at the Redemptorist church at Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick. His congregation comprised the weekly meeting of the ‘Monday Division’ of the Arch-Confraternity of the Holy Family, a 6,500-strong male sodality which, under his then spiritual direction, was a powerful force in the city’s Catholic life. John Creagh, a Redemptorist and Spiritual Director of the Arch Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, gave a sermon at their weekly meeting attacking Jews. He repeated many Anti-semitic conspiracy theories, including that of ritual murder, and said that the Jews had come to Limerick “to fasten themselves on us like leeches and to draw our blood”. Dermot Keogh describes what happened after Creagh delivered his lecture calling for a boycott on 11 January 1904.

In 1904 there were roughly 35 Jewish families, about 150 people, in the Limerick urban area. They lived in Collooney Street (now Wolfe Tone Street), not far from the present-day O’Connell monument, and had established a Jewish burial ground at Kilmurray, near Castleconnell. The first attack on them came in January, a few days prior to Fr Creagh’s sermon, when, following a colourful Jewish wedding, Judge Adams commented on their commercial success and vibrancy. This led to a sour report in the Limerick Leader, which compared their prosperity to the poverty of the native population.

A few days later the matter was taken up by Fr John Creagh CSSR, spiritual director of the Arch Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, which had a membership of around 6,000.
From the pulpit Fr Creagh stated:

‘The Jews were once chosen by God. But they rejected Christ, they crucified Him. They called down the curse of His precious blood on their heads. They were scattered over the earth after the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and they bore away with them an unquenchable hatred for the name of Jesus Christ and his followers. The Jews came to Limerick apparently the most miserable tribe imaginable, with want on their faces, and now they have enriched themselves and can boast a very considerable house property in the city. Their rags have been exchanged for silk. How do the Jews manage to make their money? Some of you may know their methods better than I do, but it is still my duty to expose these methods. They go about as peddlers from door to door, pretending to offer articles at very cheap prices, but in reality, charging several times more than in the shops…They forced themselves and their goods upon the people and the people are blind to their tricks.”

Collooney Street where most Limerick Jews lived, was only a few minutes’ walk from the Redemptorist church. The hundreds who left the church after the meeting had to pass the top of Collooney Street on their way home; many were fired up by Creagh’s incendiary sermon. The Jewish community immediately sensed the menacing mood of the crowd-turned-mob and remained locked in their homes as the church militants passed by. Jewish shops, however, remained open and their owners felt menaced. One old Fenian, a member of the confraternity, single-handedly defended a shop from attack until the police arrived to mount a guard.

John Raleigh, a teenager (15 years of age), was arrested and incarcerated in Mountjoy Prison for one month for throwing a stone at the rabbi (which struck him on the ankle). Once released he returned home to a welcoming throng who were protesting that the teenager was innocent and that the sentence imposed was too harsh. While in prison Raleigh was called a “Limerick Jew slayer” by a warder, but Raleigh, who claimed he was innocent, was insulted by this and reported the incident to the chief warder. Later, after 32 Jews had left Limerick due to the pogrom, Creagh was disowned by his superiors, who said that “religious persecution had no place in Ireland”

The Jedwabne Pogrom

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, issued orders on 29 June and 2 July 1941, for German forces to support ‘self-cleansing actions’ by the local population to rid itself of people alleged to have collaborated with the Soviet occupation, communists and Jews.

“No obstacles should be made for the efforts aimed at self-cleaning among anti-communist and anti-Jewish circles in the newly occupied territories. To the contrary, they should be instigated without leaving a trace, and if need be – intensified and directed on the right track, but in such a manner so that the local ‘self-defence circles’ could not refer to the orders or political promises made to them.” —Reinhard Heydrich

On 10 July 1941, hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children were massacred by local Poles in the town of Jedwabne.

Prior to the Holocaust, Jews made up between 60 and 70 per cent of the overall population of some 2,000 in Jedwabne. The town was situated in an area that was a hotbed of the antisemitic National Democratic Party (Endecja). After the German-Soviet invasion of Poland, Jedwabne was taken by the Soviets.

Shortly after the Soviets retreated, Polish townspeople rounded up hundreds of their Jewish neighbours and forced them to dismantle a monument of Vladimir Lenin that the Soviets had installed. From there the Jews were forced into a barn, where they were burned to death.

There is general agreement that German secret police or intelligence officials were seen in Jedwabne on the morning of 10 July 1941, or the day before, and met with the town council. Szmuel Wasersztajn’s witness statement in 1945 said that eight Gestapo men arrived on 10 July and met with the town authorities. Another witness said four or five Gestapo men arrived and “they began to talk in the town hall”. “Gestapo man” was used to refer to any German in a black uniform, Persak writes. The witnesses said they believed the meeting had been held to discuss murdering the town’s Jews.

According to the IPN’s( Institute of National Remembrance) report, on 10 July 1941 Polish men from nearby villages began arriving in Jedwabne “with the intention of participating in the premeditated murder of the Jewish inhabitants of the town”. Gross writes that a leading role in the pogrom was carried out by four men, including Jerzy Laudański and Karol Bardoń, who had earlier collaborated with the Soviet NKVD and were now trying to recast themselves as zealous collaborators with the Germans. He also writes that no “sustained organized activity” could have taken place in the town without the Germans’ consent. The town’s Jews were forced out of their homes and taken to the market square, where they were ordered to weed the area by pulling up grass from between the cobblestones. While doing this, they were beaten and made to dance or perform exercises by residents from Jedwabne and nearby.

The massacre is a controversial topic in Poland; as the main perpetrators of the massacre were Poles, it goes against the commonly accepted Polish narrative of the Holocaust.

The Kielce pogrom

The Kielce pogrom was an outbreak of violence toward the Jewish community centre’s gathering of refugees in the city of Kielce, Poland on 4 July 1946 by Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians during which 42 Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded. Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes.

The Pogroms of 1189 and 1190

From 1189 to 1190, the anti-Jewish pogroms in London, York, and numerous other cities and towns displayed cruelty and barbarity never before seen by English Jews. Indeed, these acts of violence distinguished themselves as some of the worst atrocities committed against European Jews in the Middle Ages

The catalyst for the anti-Jewish violence in 1189 and 1190 was the coronation of King Richard I on September 3, 1189. In addition to Richard’s Christian subjects, many prominent English Jews arrived at Westminster Abbey to pay homage to their new king. However, many Christian Englishmen harboured superstitions against Jews being present at such a holy occasion, and the Jewish attendees were flogged and thrown out of the banquet following the coronation. After the incident at Westminster Abbey, a rumour spread that Richard had ordered the English to kill the Jews. Christians attacked the predominantly Jewish neighbourhood of Old Jewry, setting the Jews’ stone houses on fire at night and killing those who tried to escape. When news of the slaughter reached King Richard, he was outraged, but only managed to punish a few of the assailants because of their large numbers.

When Richard left on the Third Crusade, the Jews of the village of King’s Lynn attacked a Jew who converted to Christianity. A mob of seafarers rose up against Lynn’s Jews, burned down their houses, and killed many. Similar attacks occurred in the towns of Colchester, Thetford, Ospringe, and Lincoln. While their houses were ransacked, the Jews of Lincoln managed to save themselves by taking refuge in the city’s castle. On March 7, 1190, attacks in Stamford, Lincolnshire killed many Jews, and on March 18, 57 Jews were massacred in Bury St. Edmonds. However, the bloodiest of the pogroms took place from the 16th to the 17th of March in the city of York, staining its history forever.

sources

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Pogroms-1189-1190/

https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/this-week-in-jewish-history–hundreds-of-jews-massacred-in-jedwabne-pogrom

https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/article-711642

Click to access jews%20of%20limerick%2050.pdf

https://www.theirishstory.com/2020/07/05/revisiting-the-limerick-pogrom-of-1904/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kielce_pogrom

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The Broadcasting voice restrictions

BBC

On this day 30 years ago the British Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, issued a notice under clause 13 of the BBC Licence and Agreement to the BBC and under section 29) of the Broadcasting Act 1981 to the Independent Broadcasting Authority prohibiting the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of eleven Irish political and military organisations. The ban prevented the UK news media from broadcasting the voices, though not the words, of ten Irish republican and Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups, these included  IRA, INLA, UVF and UDA as well as Sinn Féin.(bizarrely enough it did not include Ian Paisley’s DUP).the thatch and hurd

The Government’s notice on Northern Ireland broadcasting restrictions came into force on 19 October 1988 after an escalation in paramilitary violence over the preceding summer months.

Home Secretary Hurd, told the Commons that the ban was being instituted because ‘the terrorists themselves draw support and sustenance from access to radio and television .the time had come to deny this easy platform to those who used it to propagate terrorism. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said it would “deny terrorists the oxygen of publicity”.

The ban did not have the desired effect and any one with a common sense would have been able to guess that.

It did create a few ironies though.

The ban sparked the creativity  of broadcast organisations and actors were hired to do voice overs. Actors became so skilled in lip-syncing sound clips for news bulletins that viewers barely noticed the dubbing.Some actors could earn up to £120 per session.

Stephen Rea, who was among the actors to voice Gerry Adams in interviews, later told the Irish Times he tried to speak the lines “as clearly and neutrally as possible, Stephen Rea’s wife though had been an IRA volunteer at the time.

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The restrictions also applied to non news or current affair TV Shows.In December 1988 the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, ordered Channel 4 to cancel an episode of the US drama series Lou Grant that featured the story of a fictional IRA gunrunner, even though it had aired previously.

Restrictions were temporarily  lifted during the 1992 general election, facilitating  a political debate between the SDLP leader John Hume and the  Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams  to be heard during the election campaign, but the ban resumed once the polls were closed.

Adams and Hume

The Republic of Ireland had its own similar legislation that banned anyone with links to paramilitary groups from the airwaves, but repealed this in January 1994. The British government followed suit on 16 September 1994, two weeks after the first IRA ceasefire had been declared.

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Sources

BBC

RTE

Guardian

 

 

 

 

Will the real Santa Claus please stand up.

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Someone tried to convince me that Santa Claus is a mythical figure.Well if that’s the case who puts my presents under the Christmas tree?

Anyhow!

Santa Claus has many names but they all come from the same historical figure,Nikolaos of Myra(aka Nicholas of Bari)

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. st-nicholasjpgAt the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

A rather offbeat story recounted by Kelly and Rogers, tells of Nicholas visiting a local butcher during a famine. To his surprise, he was served meat. Suspecting the worst, Nicholas proceeded to his host’s cellar, finding three barrels containing three murdered boys in brine. The bishop lost no time in restoring them to life, and “has been a patron of children-in-a-pickle ever since.” His acts of kindness and miracles for children, carried the reputation of Nicholas to the far corners of the Roman Empire.

Some argue that Santa Claus is based on the Norse god, Thor, who was associated with winter and the Yule log and rode on a chariot drawn by goats named Cracker and Gnasher.

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That the historical person of Nicholas became transformed into the kindly Santa Claus from a pagan legend was due to the notoriety he gained by extending a helping hand in the aid of children. His was not an age known for protecting children. Instead they were often left to beg when they lost their parents or lived in poverty.

Other claim he is based on the Germanic god Odin,also known as Wodan.

Georg_von_Rosen_-_Oden_som_vandringsman,_1886_(Odin,_the_Wanderer)

 The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (himself also based on Saint Nicholas).

 

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Nicholas legend was that his story influenced future generations to demonstrate kindness to children, at least once a year. The modern tradition has remained true to the simple bishop of Myra, who devoted his life to helping the poor.

Santa Claus with list

 

Although the traditions are the same there are differences in the different configurations of Saint Nick. I’ll just go through a few of them there are too may to list them all(trust me I checked it twice)

Sinterklaas

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Unlike Santaclaus,Sinterklaas does not travel from the North pole by sleigh and reindeer. No Sinterklaas likes his comfort, he therefor travels from Spain on a steamboat.

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And once he arrives at his destination in the Netherlands he gets on a white horse called Amerigo.

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Rather then doing a last minute Christmas rush Sinterklaas delivers his presents on the 5th of December. Saint Nicholas died on the 6th of December, so the presents are delivered on the eve of St Nicholas’s death.

Father Christmas

FatherChristmastrial

Father Christmas is the traditional English name for the personification of Christmas. Although now known as a Christmas gift-bringer, and normally considered to be synonymous with American culture’s Santa Claus which is now known worldwide, he was originally part of an unrelated and much older English folkloric tradition. The recognisably modern figure of the English Father Christmas developed in the late Victorian period, but Christmas had been personified for centuries before then.

Below are a few more Christmas figures

Joulupukki-Finland

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Mikulás-Hungary

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Ded Moroz-Russia and other Eastern European countries.

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An Irish tradition states that the relics of Saint Nicholas are also reputed to have been stolen from Myra by local Norman crusading knights in the 12th century and buried near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, where a stone slab marks the site locally believed to be his grave.

St_Nicholas'_Tomb

 

I hope you all get the presents you are hoping for.

Regardless of who delivers them. When I was a kid I got them from this man(who was actually my real dad)

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Merry Christmas

Santa's Sleigh House

 

 

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Alderney camps-Nazi Concentration camps in Great Britain.

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The Alderney camps were prison camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands was the only part of the British Isles to be occupied.

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The Nazis built four camps on Alderney. The Nazi Organisation Todt (OT) operated each subcamp and used forced labour to build fortifications in Alderney including bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters, tunnels and concrete fortifications.

The camps commenced operating in January 1942. They were named after the Frisian Islands.

Four labour camps were built, which were named after the German islands of Sylt, Borkum, Norderney and Helgoland.

The camps on Alderney were run from the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany. Anton Yezhel was one of the few forced workers who was sent to Alderney to have been photographed. Sadly, if he survived the conditions is unknown.2F743D0F00000578-3363742-image-a-58_1450870271396

Lager Sylt, whose gates still stand today, housed the Jewish prisoners, who were treatment shocked the locals who remained on the Islands under the Nazis.

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Guernsey priest, The Reverend Douglas Ord, saw the prisoners from Sylt arrive in Guernsey in 1944.

He wrote in his diary: ‘Coming down from the harbour was a column of men in rows of five. All were in striped pyjama suits of sorts and their footgear varied from wooden sabots … to pieces of cloth bound round the feet. Others were barefoot.

‘There were more than the 1,000 of them – political prisoners brought away from Alderney. They were shaven-head and in varying degrees of weariness or lameness.

‘Scattered thorough the column among men of sub-human criminal type were others obviously intellectuals, men of superior calibre who had offended the brutal Nazi regime. It tore the heart to see the effects of this systematic and deliberate degradation of human beings.”2F73EA1200000578-3363742-image-a-9_1450342130877

Reverend Ord added: ‘At the head of the column marched five evil-visaged SS men armed with automatic guns. At the rear of the column and along its flanks on both sides and at a distance of about a dozen feet from each other were more of these brutes, similarly armed, and all on alert for any attempt at a break-away. I have never seen such brutality written on human countenances.

‘Occasionally a man would make the ‘V’ sign to us as he went by. All the emotions of pity, sympathy, sorrow, anger and horror surged through us as we watched.

 

‘All day long the stench of their poor, wretched, unwashed bodies and clothes hung about the route they had followed.’

While there were no gas chambers at Camp Sylt, the way the prisoners were treated led to the deaths of around half of the labourers brought to the island.

Documents compiled by British intelligence services trying to work out what was going on on the Channel Islands at the time laid bare the brutal conditions of life.

One report stated: ‘Too undernourished and exhausted to work efficiently, these men were mercilessly beaten by the German guard and frequently when they were too weak after a beating to stand up, they were clubbed to death or finished off with a knife.’

A report by British intelligence body MI19 said: ‘One such was crucified on the camp gates, naked and in midwinter. The German SS guards threw buckets of cold water over him all night until he was finally dead.

Another was caught by bloodhounds when attempting to stow away to the mainland. He was hanged and then crucified to the same gate. His body was left hanging on the gate for five days as a warning.

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More than 700 camp inmates lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to France in 1944.

After World War II, a court-martial case was prepared against former SS Hauptsturmführer Max List, citing atrocities on Alderney. However, he did not stand trial,and is believed to have lived near Hamburg until his death in the 1980s

sources

https://www.alderneysociety.org/museum_gallery.php

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/forgotten-nazi-concentration-camp-england-revealed-archaeologists

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-guernsey-57596077

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-reveal-hidden-horrors-only-nazi-ss-camp-british-soil-180974556/

 

31 January 1953- the day the Dutch lost the battle against the Sea.

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On this day in 1953, flooding in the North Sea killed more than 1,500 people in the Netherlands and destroyed one  million acres of farmland. The storm also caused death and destruction in Great Britain and Belgium.

flooding

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 metres (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations.

The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland. In England, 307 people were killed in the counties of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Nineteen were killed in Scotland. Twenty-eight people were killed in West Flanders, Belgium.

In addition, more than 230 deaths occurred on water craft along Northern European coasts as well as on ships in deeper waters of the North Sea. The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank.

mv_princess_victoria-ferry

On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953, many dykes in the provinces of Zeeland, South Holland and North Brabant proved unable to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm. On both the islands and the mainland, large areas of country were flooded. Many people still commemorate the dead on 1 February.

At the time of the flood, none of the local radio stations broadcast at night, and many of the smaller weather stations operated only during the day. As a result, the warnings of the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) did not penetrate the flood-threatened area in time. People were unable to prepare for the impending flood. As the disaster struck on a Saturday night, many government and emergency offices in the affected area were not staffed.

As telephone and telegraph networks were disrupted by flood damage, within hours amateur radio operators went into the affected areas with their equipment to form a voluntary emergency radio network. These well-organized radio amateurs worked tirelessly, providing radio communications for ten days and nights, and were the only people able to maintain contact from affected areas with the outside world.

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Large parts of South Holland, Zeeland and North Brabant were inundated. In North Holland only one polder was flooded. The most extensive flooding occurred on the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen, Sint Philipsland, Goeree-Overflakkee, the Hoeksche Waard, Voorne-Putten and Alblasserwaard. Parts of the islands of Zuid-Beveland, Noord-Beveland, IJsselmonde, Pernis, Rozenburg, Walcheren and Land van Altena were flooded, as well as parts of the areas around Willemstad, Nieuw-Vossemeer and parts of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

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The highest death tolls were recorded on the islands of Schouwen-Duiveland and Goeree-Overflakkee.

Afterward, the government formed the Delta Commission to study the causes and effects of the floods. They estimated that flooding killed 1,835 people and forced the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more. Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land. An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage was estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

The Schielands Hoge Zeedijk (Schielands High Seadyke) along the river Hollandse IJssel was all that protected three million people in the provinces of South and North Holland from flooding. A section of this dyke, known as the Groenendijk, was not reinforced with stone revetments. The water level was just below the crest and the seaward slope was weak.

Volunteers worked to reinforce this stretch. But, the Groenendijk began to collapse under the pressure around 5:30 am on 1 February. Seawater flooded into the deep polder. In desperation, the mayor of Nieuwerkerk commandeered the river ship de Twee Gebroeders (The Two Brothers) and ordered the owner to plug the hole in the dyke by navigating the ship into it. Fearing that the ship might break through into the polder, Captain Arie Evegroen took a row boat with him. The mayor’s plan was successful, as the ship was lodged firmly into the dyke, reinforcing it against failure and saving many lives.

Several neighbouring countries sent soldiers to assist in searching for bodies and rescuing people. The U.S. Army sent helicopters from Germany to rescue people from rooftops. Queen Juliana and Princess Beatrix visited the flooded area only a few days after.

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A large aid program came on apace, supported by the radio. A national donation program was started and there was a large amount of international aid. The Red Cross was overwhelmed by contributions and decided to send some of the funds to assist residents of Third World countries.

Politically, the disaster prompted discussions in the Netherlands concerning the protection and strengthening of the dykes. As a result, the Delta Works were authorized, an elaborate project to enable emergency closing of the mouths of most estuaries, to prevent flood surges upriver.

deltawork

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