Position of Amsterdam

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Stelling van Amsterdam
UNESCO world heritage UNESCO World Heritage Emblem

Stelling van Amsterdam the Netherlands de.svg
Course of the Stelling van Amsterdam
National territory: NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands
Type: Culture
Criteria : (ii) (iv) (v)
Reference No .: 759
UNESCO region : Europe and North America
History of enrollment
Enrollment: 1996  (session 20)
The throat of the fort near Aalsmeer, 2009

The position of Amsterdam ( Dutch Stelling van Amsterdam ) was an approximately 135 km long defensive ring with a radius of 10 to 15 km around the Dutch capital Amsterdam . The system, which consisted of numerous forts , batteries , dikes , weirs and moats , was supposed to work on the basis of the inundation and was never used.

The structures still standing on the site were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996 .



After much pressure from the military and under the direct impression of the Franco-German War (1870–1871), the Dutch government planned to develop the city of Amsterdam as a national reduit and thus a fortress . The basis for this was the fortress law passed in 1874, which among other things anchored the construction of the Amsterdam position. Although important decision-making processes were not yet completed, construction of the facility began in 1881, initially limited to earthworks. Due to new technical developments, especially the proliferation of the explosive shell , the plans had to be adapted to the current requirements long after construction began. The work was interrupted several times by construction stops and further planning phases.


This dike was intended to limit the inundation to the southern half of the Haarlemmermeer polder.

Following the example of the Dutch waterline , it was decided to use a defensive ring based on inundation . In the event of an attack, designated areas should be flooded with water about 50 cm high. With this water level it was impossible to overcome it both on foot and by boat. In addition to the relatively low costs, the geographical conditions also spoke in favor of such a system. Large areas around Amsterdam consisted of polders , some of which had only been drained a few years before and were therefore sparsely populated. Nevertheless, the project made high demands on the hydraulic engineers responsible .

Numerous moats , weirs and locks were built to ensure that the flooding was even and as rapid as possible (within 3 to 10 days) . In order to rule out uncontrolled flooding, dykes several kilometers long were built. Among other things, the northern half of the Haarlemmermeer polder should remain dry in order to enable Amsterdam to be self-sufficient in the event of a siege as arable land . Existing dikes, canals and other traffic routes were also included in the position and some of them were structurally changed. On some sections of the south-eastern front one could fall back on systems of the Dutch water line .


Side view of the fort near Spijkerboor (with legend), 2008. All forts at the position have a similar structure, although the position and number of armored domes vary.

Sections of the terrain at a higher elevation and traffic routes that crossed the weir prevented the possibility of uninterrupted inundation. On the west side, the nearby dunes provided a relatively narrow line of defense. In the east, the position bordered directly on the Zuiderzee . In order to be able to repel enemy attacks in these places too, the construction of 42 forts and batteries was planned . These originally consisted of moats and earth walls, but from 1897 onwards they were provided with casemates made of concrete and armored domes in several construction phases . Numerous auxiliary batteries between the forts provided additional protection.

The position's artillery initially consisted of Krupp - Gruson fortress guns with a caliber of 6 cm. Later they retrofitted or converted with machine guns and larger, mobile artillery. Batteries and auxiliary batteries also had mobile weapons. The forts, which were unoccupied in peacetime, were designed for a crew of around 250 to 350 men each. Outside the moat there was a permanently occupied keeper's house and a warehouse.

First World War

World War I bunker between the forts of Spaarndam, 2008

On July 31, 1914, one day before the outbreak of World War I , general mobilization took place in the neutral Netherlands . A few days later, the position in Amsterdam was ready for action with around 10,000 soldiers.

After the rapid conquest of the comparable Liège fortress ring in August 1914, at the latest with the use of fighter planes , the position of Amsterdam was considered technically obsolete. In 1915 the fortress artillery began to be partially transferred to other parts of the army. The fortress, which was not completed at the beginning of the war, was expanded, even if only poorly. In 1916 Schiphol Airport was built as part of the facility. In the same year, at the insistence of the German Empire, some forts to the west were expanded to include additional bunkers in order to repel possible attacks from England . Larger plans, such as the construction of an inner defensive ring and the modernization of older forts, were dropped. Since the Netherlands was able to maintain its neutrality during the war, there was no inundation and the facility was spared from fighting. In 1920, two years after the end of the war, the Amsterdam position was considered completed. As a consequence of the new warfare, it lost its status as an independent defense system in 1921 and became part of the fortress of Holland .

Second World War

Fort near Vijfhiuizen: gun post from the Second World War (with wooden dummy), left behind the bench: remains of the original armored dome of the fort, 2008

When the German Wehrmacht invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, the position of Amsterdam was of little military importance. In the northern section soldiers were stationed and inundations prepared. Within a few days, however, much of the country was overrun and the Netherlands capitulated before German troops reached the position.

In the following years most of the forts served the German occupiers as ammunition stores or barracks . Metal for the German armaments industry was dismantled from a large part of the buildings. Many forts were integrated into the Atlantic Wall and equipped with listening posts, guns and additional bunkers, among other things. Towards the end of the war, the German Wehrmacht also made use of (improperly executed) inundations in the area of ​​the Amsterdam position and submerged areas of more than 10,000 hectares in North Holland to protect themselves from an Allied invasion.

Cold war and today

After the Second World War, the position of Amsterdam completely lost its original function. Between 1946 and 1948 numerous forts of the position served as prison camps for political delinquents . The military then used most of the forts as depots for explosives, bandages, vehicles, or food supplies. In the 1950s and 1960s, the forts were abandoned and most of them were sold to the Ministry of Finance from 1990 and then leased. The systems for inundation were already transferred to water boards in the 1970s .

Since the development of the defensive ring was once only possible under strict conditions, it forms an important chain of biotopes and local recreation areas in the now densely populated Randstad . Most of the forts, which have been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996, are leased to associations , restaurants or galleries and are not freely accessible. Several associations and foundations now offer guided tours of individual forts on weekends. Many forts can also be visited on the day of the open monument and in the official fort month of September.

Important parts of the position

Ilpendam Sector

Fort north of Purmerend, 2010
Kitchen in the fort near Edam, 2010
  • Material warehouse of the Ilpendam sector (partially removed)
  • Ammunition depot of the Ilpendam sector (dismantled)

Purmerend group

  • Away on Jisperweg
  • Away on Middenweg
  • Inundation dams Beemster
    • Fort on Nekkerweg
  • Inundation dam Kwadijk
  • Fort north of Purmerend
  • Fort near Kwadijk (unfinished, partially demolished)

Edam group

  • Away with Edam
  • Janhagelhoek battery (unfinished, worn)
  • Battery at Uitdam (unfinished, worn)
  • Coastal battery at Durgerdam

Ouderkerk sector

Fort on the Pampus in today's IJmeer , 2005
Coastal battery near Diemerdam, 2009
Geindijk-Nigtevecht line wall, 2009
A cannon dome of the fort near Nigtevecht to defend the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal , 2009
  • Fort in Laander- and Westbijlmerpolder (ammunition depot, dismantled in 1968)
  • Material warehouse of the Ouderkerk sector

Diemerbrug group

  • Away on the pampus
  • Coastal battery at Diemerdam
  • Muiden Fortress (originally part of the Dutch waterline )
    • Muizenfort
    • West Battery Muiden
    • Casemates Muiden
  • Weesp Fortress (originally part of the Dutch waterline)
    • Tower fort on the Ossenmarkt
    • Battery De Roskam (dismantled in 1924 and 1998)
    • Casemates Weesp
  • Position of Muiderberg
    • Fort at Muiderberg (unfinished)
  • Field position Hakkelaarsbrug - Uitermeer
    • Kasematten Hakkelaarsbrug
  • Fort Uitermeer (originally part of the Dutch waterline)
    • Casemates Uitermeer
    • Field position Uitermeer
  • Fort Hinderdam (originally part of the Dutch waterline)

Abcoude group

  • Geindijk - Nigtevecht line wall
    • Away with Nigtevecht
    • Batteries on the Gein
  • Away with Abcoude
  • Fort an der Winkel (unfinished)

De Nes group

  • Fort in Botshol (unfinished)
  • Fort Waver-Amstel
  • Line wall Kudelstaart - Uithoorn
    • Away at Uithoorn
    • Away at the Drecht
    • Away at De Kwakel
  • Outpost along the Drecht

Sector Sloten

Fort at Hoofddorp, 2009
Transportable warehouse at the fort near Vijfhuizen, 2009
Fort at the Liebrug, 2008
Fort south of Spaarndam, 2009
Fort north of Spaarndam, 2009
  • Material warehouse of the Sloten sector
  • Ammunition depot of the Sloten sector
  • Halfweg material warehouse

Schiphol group

  • Away with Kudelstaart
  • Fort at Schiphol (removed)
  • Geniedijk Haarlemmermeer
    • Away at Aalsmeer
    • Battery on Aalsmeerderweg
    • Casemates Slotertocht
    • Battery on Sloterweg
    • Away at Hoofddorp
    • Battery on the IJweg

Halfweg group

  • Away at Vijfhuizen
    • Outpost at Vijfhuizen
    • Outpost at Cruquius
  • Line wall at the Liede
    • Fort at the Liede (partly worn down)
    • Away with the Liebrug
    • Away at Penningsveer
  • Line wall at Spaarndam
    • Fort south of Spaarndam
    • Fort north of Spaarndam
  • Casemates side channel B

Zaandam sector

An interior of the fort at IJmuiden, 2009
Fort at Den Ham, 2009
Secondary battery at Fort at Den Ham, 2009

Group Westzaan

  • Battery on the North Sea Canal
  • Post from IJmuiden
    • Away at IJmuiden
    • Coastal battery at IJmuiden
  • Casemate Velserspoorbrug
  • Fort near Velsen (partially removed)
  • Assendelver Zeedijk
  • Line wall Aagtendijk - Zuidwijkermeer
    • Fort Zuidwijkermeer
    • Fort on St. Aagtendijk
  • St. Aagtendijk
    • Away at Veldhuis
  • Line wall east of the fort at Veldhuis
  • Inundation dam west of the fort at Veldhuis

Wormerveer group

  • Battery at Uitgeest station (not completed, worn down)
  • Fort north of Uitgeest (not completed, demolished)
  • Inundation quay from the Nauernasche drive to De Dam
    • Away at Den Ham
    • Away at Krommeniedijk
  • Away with Marken-Binnen
  • Line wall in the Starnmeerpolder
  • Path through the Wormer, Jisp and Nek polders
  • Away at Spijkerboor

See also


  • Henk Baas and Paul Vesters: De Stelling van Amsterdam. Harnas voor de Hoofdstad. Matrijs. 2003. ISBN 978-90-5345-210-3 (detailed book on the position of Amsterdam, Dutch).
  • H. van Ginkel: Het rijke verleden van Vestingstad Muiden. Waanders. 2004. ISBN 90-400-8843-8 (book on the history of the fortified city, which goes back more than a thousand years, in Dutch).
  • Ernst Kurpershoek: Amsterdam verdedigd. Bescherming van de stad. Bureau Monuments & Archeology, Lubberhuizen. 2004. ISBN 90-5937-060-0 (book on the various defenses of Amsterdam, Dutch).
  • R. Schimmel: Fortenroutes lang de vuurlijn. Buijten & Schipperheijn. 2003. ISBN 90-5937-060-0 (Bicycle tours along the position, Dutch).

Web links

Commons : Stelling van Amsterdam  - Collection of images, videos and audio files