National Geographic : 1950 Dec
750 The National Geographic Magazine of them to support the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Hitler's war abetted the sea in its efforts to recoup some of its losses. Much of the lovely island of Walcheren,whose dikes tragically had to be bombed by the Allies in October, 1944, to flood out the German defenses of the Schelde, was continuously scoured, a Zeeland authority told me, by 16,000,000 cubic yards of salt water. Twice every 24 hours the sea water rushed in and out, neatly removing farm and grazing lands.* It was thought that a quarter of a century would be needed to restore this blighted island, but most of the farming area is now back in production. This achievement was due in no small measure to Marshall Plan aid, which has powerfully advanced all of Holland's postwar recla mation projects. Flooded Lands Restored Prodigies of Dutch engineer ing closed the dikes, and new methods of eliminating the salt from the soil surprised even the most optimistic. But the beau tiful woods of Walcheren are gone, to the very last tree, in the flooded sections, which totaled 38,000 acres. Nature must have time to rebuild them. Most Dutchmen, even most Zeelanders, who bore the awful brunt of it, were quick to accept the Allied destruction of Wal cheren as a necessary part of the liberation campaign. Few Dutchmen, however, can yet muster charity enough to for give the Nazis their major work of land destruction, the wanton flooding on April 17, 1945, of the Wieringermeer Polder, re claimed from the IJsel Meer. Eyes still grow hard at the mention of it, for this was an act of forthright frightfulness, Netherlands Information Service * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Holland Rises from War Holland Strikes It Rich. Oil Pours from Wells and Water," by Thomas R. Henry, Schoonebeek field, developed after the war, yields four million bar- February, 1946; and "Mending Dikes rels a year, a quarter of the nation's needs. American capital holds a in the Netherlands," 20 ills., De big stake. This driller reads a gauge showing pressure on the drill bit. cember, 1946.