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Dutch history

Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie, historic Dutch military floodplain system

Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie image from Wikipedia

The "New Dutch Waterline" was a system engineered and regulated to flood a military zone across the country in the event of war. Its purpose was to isolate the densely-populated western provinces and establish a national refuge.

A sophisticated arrangement of dikes, canals and apparati stood ready to flood an 85-kilometer line too deep to charge, too shallow to navigate. In areas where flooding was impossible due to elevation or infrastructure, a series of forts defended against intrusion.

This Nieuwe Hollandse Waterlinie was new relative to the Oude Hollandse Waterlinie, and a refinement on the concept. Begun after the fall of Napoleon, it was able to include Utrecht, one of the principal cities.

Although deployed in 1939 , the military floodplain was no longer an effective deterent during World War II. When the Nazis bombed Rotterdam in 1940 and forced a Dutch surrender under threat of greater airborne destruction, the frontier was obsolete.

Many of the fort sites are now popular nature reserves harboring a unique assortment of animal, bird, and plant species.