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Film segment only colour recording of 1953 Flood

Discovery in archives

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MIDDELBURG, the Netherlands - A five-minute newsreel recently found in a Dutch film archive, likely is the only colour recording in existence of the disastrous 1953 Flood, which in early February devastated a large part of southwestern Netherlands. The Flood took the lives of over 1800 people.

The colour film was shot by a U.S. news team and has an English commentary. The footage was filmed within days of the massive breach of several North Sea and Delta region dikes when tidal surges broke through and inundated large parts of the Zeeland and Zuid-Holland polders. The disaster, besides its human and animal toll, soon led to the implementation of a huge, comprehensive area protection plan, dubbed Delta Works, in which massive dams and reinforced dikes closed off much of the river delta to the sea.

For years, film researcher Gerard Nijssen had been convinced that colour film of the Flood would have been shot and likely be saved somewhere. In the last decade or so, much colour film and photographs of WWII had been re-discovered and Nijssen reasoned that such material would exist of the 1953 disaster as well.

The short filmreel focusses on dike repair work started immediately to close the breeches, sometimes small, most often so huge that a number of surplus WWII concrete pontoons had to be sunk to close the gaps.

The colour film by an unknown U.S. camera crew, was shown on Dutch television in March 2005 as part of a colour documentary on the 1950s. It was enhanced by live Dutch radio commentary from wellknown 1953 reporters such as Jan de Troye, Herman Felderhof and Guus Weitzel.

The television program on the 1950s, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the well-known ‘Other Times’ program, also showed a colour promotional segment made for the Rotterdam Lloyd about the departure of Australia-bound Dutch emigrant ship Sibajak.