The Dutch War Against The Sea

The Dutch War Against The Sea

The Netherlands is extremely vulnerable to
flooding. So the Dutch constructed the longest dam in
Europe. And it has never broken in the last 85 years. This is the story of its construction. In the past The Netherlands would flood regularly,
with many early settlements built on higher ground. Between 800 and 1300 these floods were especially
bad, caused by rising sea level due to a warmer climate. These floods slowly connected these lakes
with the North Sea This new body of water was called the Zuiderzee,
or Southern Sea. Ships could now travel freely between the
North Sea and the most inner parts of what today we call the netherlands. Including this little town called Amsterdam,
Becoming a major trading city, create the first stock exchange, and develop the early
forms of modern capitalism. All because of these floods. The Southern Sea made the Netherlands more
vulnerable to flooding. Over the centuries, the sea water would periodically
sweep in and flood the surrounding areas, destroying crops, homes, and families. Something had to be done. The netherlands. Must. Be. Protected. It is at this point that we have to look at
man named Cornelis Lely. Lely was born in 1854 and received an education
in civil engineering at the Delft University of Technology. He began working as an engineer for the Ministry
of Transport, Public Works and Water Management in The Netherlands. First helping the ministry to implement some
canal-laws. Then he joined the Southern Sea Association
whose goal was to close off the Southern Sea using dikes. Over the course of 5 years, he proceeded to
lay out a brilliant plan that would revolutionize dike-building, permanently close off the Southern
Sea against any flood, and pump dry large swaths of land to be used for agriculture. What was revolutionary was not what he wanted
to build, but HOW he planned to build such a large dike; many before had tried but they
never figured out HOW to do. But this idea wasn’t cheap. In fact, his plan would cost as much as the
entire Dutch government budget for a whole year. To put that into perspective, The Netherlands’
government budget for 2018 is 285 billion Euro. Lely’s plan therefore also had to include
a way to make A LOT of money. He wanted to pump large areas of land dry
to mine clay and use the new fertile land for agriculture. We will talk more about how this part of his
plan was executed in the next episode of this series, but spoiler alert: This made the Netherlands
the second largest exporter of food in the world. Lely had his plan. Now he needed the government to pay for it. Lely was a clever guy, not only in terms of
engineering but also as a politician. A mere five years after joining the ministry
of water management he had risen up to become THE MINISTER of water management. During this time he tried to get parliament
to adopt his plan into law and build this new dike and polders, but unfortunately, parliament
was dissolved early. But he got a second try at being minister
in 1897 and while he managed to build a large canal to divert river water from overflowing,
he still wasn’t able to push his plan through parliament. After that he was governor of Suriname, a
Dutch colony at the time, and went about improving the railroad network there. But then, in 1913 he became minister a third
time… and third time’s the charm. This time he FINALLY managed to convince parliament
to look into making The Netherlands less vulnerable to flooding, using his plan. And then two events happened that made parliament
realize that they NEEDED to have this dam and these polders. The first, is world war one. While most of Europe at the time was embroiled
in one of the bloodiest wars in history, the netherlands remained neutral. Furthermore, all of its neighbours were at
war. This meant that food was scarce as millions
now had to be fed without producing food or other products themselves. This increased the demand for food and, in
a world without artificial fertilizer, lots of farmland was NECESSARY to keep one’s
own population well fed… and the netherlands is a small country with a lot of people, so
it DESPERATELY needed fertile land to keep its growing population fed. But the most compelling reason came in 1916. In the middle of the night, a large flood
came crashing into the netherlands. The dikes… broke. Thousands of homes were damaged and destroyed. Holes of over 100 meters wide were clawed
out of the dikes by the rushing water. And several counties went bankrupt trying
to repair this damage. Now EVERYBODY saw just how vulnerable The
Netherlands was to flooding. In 1918 the law to construct the largest dam
in european history was passed and construction began in 1920. The name of this dam would be the Aflsuitdijk…
which translates to the enclosure dike… but because it has water on both sides it
means it’s a dam… so I will be referring to it as both a dam and a dike this whole
episode because it is kind of both. Work began carefully. Nobody had ever built anything in the water
on such a scale before. So first they built a smaller dike from the
mainland to this small island here. They gained some useful expertise for the
REAL project. In 1927 the work on the Afsluitdijk began
on four locations. They began on either side where the dikes
were supposed to connect. They also built two islands in the middle
of the Southern Sea where the dikes were supposed to cross and started construction on both
these two locations as well… they built 2 islands in the middle of the water… to
build a giant dike in the middle of the water… i think you can see now why the netherlands
is famous for its water constructions. Tens of thousands of workers flocked from
across the country to work on this marvel of engineering… including my grandfather! First the Dutch had to build a sturdy foundation. Ships came, day in day out, dropping millions
of cubic meters of material into the sea. On the inland side, heavy stones were deposited,
on the seaside, boulder clay was dropped into the sea. They were kept in place with brushwood mattresses,
which in turn were held down by boulders and old concrete. Then till was collected from the sea bottom
and deposited upon this foundation. Finally, the dike was finished by raising
it above sea level with sand and clay. To make sure the dike was sturdy, grass was
planted on top. The dikes was closed on May 28th 1932, two
year earlier than expected. the Southern Sea was turned into a lake: the
IJsselmeer, or IJssel Lake, named after the river IJssel which deposited its water into
this new lake. And this water needed to be deposited from
this newly formed lake into the sea. So at both ends of the dikes sluices were
constructed to let the water flow into the sea. And as salt water was deposited into the sea,
the Ijsellake slowly converted from a salt water lake into a fresh water lake. The dam was given a road, connecting the north-west
of the netherland with the west. And so on September 25th, 1933, the Afsluitdijk
was officially opened. An amount of 23 million cubic metres (810,000,000
cu ft) of sand and 13.5 million cubic metres (480,000,000 cu ft) of till were deposited
onto the seabed. Lely himself never saw his project finished,
as he died a few years earlIER in 1929. But his project would save tens of thousands
of lives when the Afsluitdijk was put to the test in 1953. one of the most severe storms
hit the netherlands. In the south, where dikes were far more simple,
the water came crashing in, over 1800 people were killed, 30.000 livestock died, and thousands
of homes were destroyed… but in the north, behind the Afsluitdijk, that had been built
a mere 20 years earlier, there was no damage. Nobody died. Nobody’s home was destroyed. And no land was flooded. In that single night, the Afsluitdijk paid
for its investment: both in terms of money and in terms of the lives it saved. This area of The Netherlands was no longer
vulnerable from flooding. And this is where we will leave for today. If you like this videos, give it a thumbs
up. I will make a follow-up episode in this series
which will cover the polder projects mentioned earlier in this episode, where vast tracts
of land were dug out of the sea. Press the subscribe button if you want to
see that video and more videos like this, and comment below what you thought about this

Comments (100)

  1. you have distinct 'sh' sound.

  2. when i read the name of that Dam i think someone is just scribbling on the keyboard. asjdhajshdajlkshdnklas XD

  3. 6:30 Where did all this stuff come from?

  4. Cornelis Lely: Hey Moses, hold my beer.

  5. 5.01 its afsluitdijk not afsuitdijk. Love this video cause i am from the netherlands

  6. you misspelled afsluitdijk in the video

  7. Making a sea into a sweet water lake is beyond my imagination.

  8. IJsselmeer en de IJssel is toch met 2 SSen? 7:00

  9. Fantastic video, thank you!

  10. Great channel bro 🙂

  11. He: Netherlands is a small country with lots of people
    Me: Have you ever heard about a mysterious subcontinent called India?

  12. Thanks for your videos about this subject! This has intrigued me since I was a teenager, when I lived in The Netherlands for a few months.

  13. When I was like 10 I remember reading that the Netherlands were below sea level and I thought so will the Netherlands end up sinking

  14. It's afsluitdijk* not afsuit dijk

  15. IJssel is met dubbel S

  16. There's a little restaurant on the Afsluitdijk, great food, we've been eating there on the way to the beaches in North Holland. Been living in the far east of the country at those times.

  17. it´s the longest dam of the world, not europe

  18. And they say Pim Fortuyn is the biggest Dutchman ever to have existed. Look at what the idea of Lely did to the country.


    Did I win?

  20. Can you do a video about the history of how the Dutch measure sea level….

  21. ………………….Afsuitdijk………….Controleer je spelling

  22. This can perhaps be the solution to the overpopulation problem. I hope my country also expand this way and become a great power 😀
    Maybe land reclamation is the solution to the Palestine conflict so that both Israel and Palestine can have a piece of land.

  23. Come from holland.

  24. I thought this was about lesbians doing construction work.

  25. You accent sounds like Trump

  26. 08:30 that's not the Netherlands 🙂

  27. It's not IJsel, it's IJssel

  28. 5:00 *afsluitdijk, you missed an L

  29. It is was named a dijk because they planned to drain the entire Sountern Sea or IJssel Lake so it would be water on just one side, but it never happened, because WW2 came around the door. In which the Afsluitdijk was one of the few places in western Europe the Germans could not take by force.

  30. After all, they are the swamp Germans for a reason

  31. Great content. You got the balance between being concise and giving detail, M

  32. Ah, so this is where Lelystad has it's name from …

  33. The name sounds like someone just smashed random letters on their keyboard

  34. lmao swamp gypsies limburg is obviously the superior hill part


  36. at 4:41 I know you said rushing water but it almost sounded like Russian water XD

  37. Bangladesh also need something like this.

  38. Using CE instead of AD 🙁

  39. A*f*sluitdijk and ijsselmeer and the ijssel, really bad spelling here

  40. i find it hard to believe it is the second largest agricultural producer, that little thumbprint sized country.

  41. Nice you have a good grandpa

  42. Damn… That's a long dam

  43. Dutch always has a plan.

  44. They say the Dutch made God but the Netherlands made the Dutch…..wait no…

  45. Tbh, "Dutch War Against The Sea" totally sounds like a movie I'd watch

  46. 0700 what's that song called

  47. 5.02 misi je een L

  48. At least there are no emus

  49. why do Dutch words look like someone just smashed their hand on a keyboard

  50. How much did it cost in swiss francs?

  51. You Dutch are a strange people, i mean it never occurred to me to get minors to plug the gushing crevasses in Lesbians using their fingers but then again who am I to judge, you clog wearing pancake lovers!

  52. doe je ook een filmpje over de Deltawerken?

  53. I came for the lesbians.

  54. 3:20 What we had a railway network??

  55. The Netherlands should run a marketing campaign to increase tourism.
    "Come to the Netherlands and we will give you a dam tour and you can spend some money in our dam gift shop so you can take home some dam toys for your kids."

  56. The Netherlands every time it reclaims land: Begone THOT

  57. I live in New Orleans, and if something like this isn't built here soon, the whole city will disappear beneath the sea.

  58. Dutch engineer : build dam in Jakarta so its protected from flood
    Indonesian niggas: is this a fuckong trash can?
    Dutch engineer: what? Of course no!!! You slave cunt!
    Indonesian niggas: whoopsies
    Dutch engineer: NO!!!!
    Dam water flow get stuck and flood happen
    Indonesian niggas: We want independence!!!
    Dutch government: whatever, im leaving anyway

  59. 2:42 Lely had his plan, Lely always had his plan.

  60. Why is it called the Southern Sea, when it's in the north of the Netherlands…?

  61. I had no idea the Netherlands did something mindblowing like that. Great video!

  62. As an American who can trace their ancestry back to the 17th century in Vorden, Gelderland, this video makes me proud

  63. Funny how you give all the credit to Cornelis Lely, yet forgot to mention that planning for such a project had already started back in the 16th century under Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater. I'm pretty sure that without the information from those plans Lely wouldn't have been able to come up with his solution for this problem.

  64. this is an ensuing risk and mad investment because of culture, language, race, ethnicity, i.e. this is a crisis born out of human tendency to identify itself with something. identity led crisis.Astonishing risk humanity takes by living in Holland. I am a layman and no Engineer; but in my view To ensure longevity and security of the accomplishments another outer ring of huge protective structure needs to be constructed for the entire 400 kms which will take the brunt of the frontal assault launched by the North Sea and the in between water body can be a source of drain for the Rhine . The Dutch are one of the bravest like the Japanese who live amidst earthquakes and tsunamis and equally or more enterprising. I do really hope and wish they will start working on a first line of defence.

  65. in fact my heart bleeds for the Dutch and i hope they shore their first line of defence even though i am from India. this is the result of identifying myself with humanity and not India. I had visited the Great Holland in the ninties twice. but i did not realise the greatness of the Dutch acomplishment, and the gravity of the continuous danger they face. thanks for this video that i am able to realise things as it is; but i bow to the Dutch for what they have endured and accomplished. Let the Dutch win over Nature with an ingenious use of nature and great enterprise.

  66. I admire and love Holland all the more.

  67. EVERY deik is a dam!

  68. Great to learn about the 'Afsuitdijk'!

  69. my city was in 1400 a coast city and now it is in the middle of the province Friesland. great vid👍🏻

  70. The British ruled the seas the Majapahits controlled the spice trade and the Dutch controlled the waves

  71. Very nice! Well done! Make 1 about Dutch sceintists….

  72. Great Video! Thank you!

  73. Meanwhile in Africa…

  74. This is a really interesting thing to learn but I want to know something. What happened to the southern regions of the Netherlands? Were more dikes and dams constructed to prevent flooding over there? Was there some kind of "preference" for the northern regions of the Netherlands back then because of this? How's the south doing today? I'm curious!

    Greetings from Argentina!

  75. The plan was to start from both sides, work towards each other, meet in the middle, and erect a monument there. The monument got indeed placed where both ends of the Afsluitdijk met. But, since the people from the eastern provinces worked twice as hard as those from the west, the monument stands at 2/3 of the dike, instead of in the middle.

  76. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the Netherlands are 2nd in the world in agricultural exports, that doesn't necessarily mean food. I think most of it is actually flowers, but that falls under agriculture.

  77. Hey great video but the way you pronounce Dutch words makes me wonder are you Dutch

  78. thats why my country Indonesia suffer severe colonialism in that year…

  79. The 1953 North Sea floods also affected East Anglia in the UK, causing devastation in Norfolk – and closing many miles of railway, which never reopened 🙁

  80. make sure the dam doesnt gets to old then start getting weaker

  81. Is there any chance they saved the north and sacrificed the south?

  82. 220m gulden then but now it would cost more then twice that with euros

  83. Damn, most of the Netherlands is under sea level, i did not know that. That's insane.

  84. The longest dam in Europe? Not the longest dam in the world? Is there is a longer man made dam somewhere else in the world then?

  85. I have driven across it several times and it is truly an amazing piece of infrastructure.

  86. Er zit een L in Afsluitdijk. Ook is IJssel met dubbel s. Het is een hele goeie video. Maar die fouten doen er ietsje aan af.

    Je hebt er een abonnee bij!

  87. Constructing sluises is tight!

  88. 6:50 The Wieringermeer (in the Nort-West) was already constructed ahead of schedule before the Afsluitdijk was build, defining the Wieringermeer as a Southern Sea polder rather than an IJsselmeer polder. However, the animation of the Afsluitdijk construction does not show the Wieringermeer. This is not a trivial difference either. Protecting a polder from the violence of the open sea is a bit more complicated that protecting it from the water of an inland lake.

  89. Afsuitdijk? And why is polder Wieringermeer not shown? It was constructed before the afsluitdijk.

  90. My uncle lived in Den Haag but back then he was scared that it would flood there so he moved to Eindhoven

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