Holandia / Historia

Frisian cheeses for starving Holland




Friesland was well aware of the dire food situation in the Dutch cities during the last winter of the war. Harrowing stories of food collectors crossing the Afsluitdijk made a lasting impression. Aid operations were set up across the province.

The resistance made a major contribution to this, by taking back food looted by the German occupiers and organising covert transports to Amsterdam by car across the Afsluitdijk and by ship across the IJsselmeer. The ships brought famine evacuees with them on their way back. In March 1945, the resistance managed to capture a large batch of cheeses, which had been hidden in Lollum.

In the first days of March 1945, Dronrijp's sabotage group received a tip that there was a barge with ten tonnes of cheese for the Wehrmacht in the Franekervaart, north of Oosterlittens. At nine in the evening, with curfew already in force, the men got on their bicycles with a sten gun over their shoulders and set off.  

Without running into German soldiers, they reached the barge, where they overpowered the two guards. The barge indeed turned out to be chock-full of cheeses, in their estimation as much as 30 tonnes. A farmer nearby, in the hamlet of Weakens, was routed out of bed and horses and wagons were used for transporting the cheeses to the farm.  

As the night wore on, the situation became too dangerous for the illegal workers and the barge, by then still far from empty, had to be left to its fate. Still, they managed to lay their hands on almost ten thousand kilos of cheese. Because the German investigative services would be investigating in Weakens and the surrounding area in the following days, the cheese was loaded into a barge again and transported to Lollum.   

The village was known to have basically no people with German sympathies living there, so it was safe. This is why it is also known as "the English village." The attic of the Reformed Society Building (Kerkstraat 10) became the new storage area.  

Along with other foodstuffs, the cheeses arrived in good order in Amsterdam, where the Interdenominational Office for Emergency Food Distribution took care of distribution. In gratitude for the help of the resistance in Friesland, a monument was offered by the citizens of Amsterdam in 1947, which was placed in Lollum (Elshoutbuurt).