From our editor Annette Schimmel
As far back as the seventeenth century water was an ally in the fight for independance. Even Napolean, who ruled Holland around 1800AD, recognised the effectiveness of the system and had it extended. However, as time passed, artillery was developed which was able to reach Amsterdam. This led to an expansion of the Stelling, so that it reached the dimensions we can see today. By the start of the First World War in 1914, the Stelling was more or less complete. The Netherlands prepared for action, and the Stelling van Amsterdam stood ready with a fighting force of 10,000 men. However, the Netherlands remained neutral throughoutthe conflict and not a single shot was fired. Modern weaponry and methods of war have rendered the Stelling van Amsterdam obsolete.
Right up until 1963 the Stelling van Amsterdam retained its military function, although in latter days it was only used as a munitions dump, the military value of the water defences having been long since superseded. Since this time the Ministry of Defence has sold off the forts one by one to local councils, water companies, provincial government, organisations involved in countryside conservation and preservation of heritage, as well as to private investors. The last remaining fort still owned by the Ministry of Defence, Fort aan den Ham, is to be sold off in the near future.E-Mail this article.