Zeeland ’53: Holland’s great flood disaster

The village of Nieuwerkerk in Zeeland two months after the disaster (© Nationaal Archief)

For centuries, the Dutch have reclaimed land from the sea. But in 1953, the sea tried to take back a huge portion from the province of Zeeland in the south of The Netherlands. The worst flood in centuries surprised residents in the middle of the night. Houses were swept out to sea; livestock and farmland were destroyed; and more than 1800 people lost their lives. This historic disaster is recreated with the eye-witness accounts of survivors and the on-scene reports of Radio Netherlands’ journalists who brought news of the tragedy to the world at the time of the disaster. This is a unique look back into a memorable chapter of Holland’s past.

Produced by David Swatling and Liesbeth de Bakker

First broadcast January 31, 2003, and released in Euroquest April 18, 2003