Historic fort to be 'recaptured' from squatters

9th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 August 2006, AMSTERDAM — Squatters living in the historic Fort Pannerden in the east of the Netherlands for last six years face imminent eviction.

9 August 2006

AMSTERDAM — Squatters living in the historic Fort Pannerden in the east of the Netherlands for last six years face imminent eviction.

Writing on their website on Wednesday, the residents said that they are to leave by Friday after a court in Arnhem issued an interlocutory injunction against them. They are not in a position to appeal. 

They have used the building as a culture centre and made it a focal point of the pro-squatters campaign since 2000. The Forestry Service (Staatsbosbeheer) owns the fort and has been trying to get them out for over a year.

The squatters said they would not use unnecessary violence to resist eviction. They have, however, invited sympathisers to come to help with "odd jobs in the fort." A police spokesperson said a forced eviction could take some time as there many passageways and rooms above and below ground in the fort.

Fort Pannerden, on washland between the Waal and Rhine rivers, is an important historic artifact. It was built in 1869 to guard the strategically important Pannerdens Canal, which was the source of water used to inundate land for the Second Dutch Waterline. This was a military defence line established by temporarily flooding the land and using forts in order to control access roads.

Rapid advances in weapons technology quickly made the fort, in its original form, obsolete. Armed steel gun emplacements were added, and the fort was manned in World War I. But as the Netherlands was neutral, the fort did not see any action.

A Sergeant and his family lived there between the world wars. When the Netherlands was dragged into World War II, the fort proved no match for the German Blitzkrieg and the defenders quickly surrendered.

"After the war, Fort Pannerden was a welcome source of building materials for the reconstruction of houses and farms in the surrounding countryside, and a good place to dump unwanted rubble and munitions," the squatters said on their website.

The building, although declared a national monument in 1969, was in a totally dilapidated state when 12 squatters moved in on 12 June 2000. They began restoration work before organising guided tours and cultural events.

"We regularly organised an open day, on which locals and other interested parties could come by and see our progress with their own eyes. But because of coercion from the city council this could not continue," they said. 

There are currently 15 people living in the fort and last spring they established a charitable foundation to manage the building.

The Forestry Service wants to turn the fort into a "bat hotel" and for an information centre about the washland.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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