Frame V  The land is inhabited

As became apparent from Frame II, thousands of laborers were involved in cultivating this area. There were no permanent homes for them during these first years. The first accommodations in the Noordoostpolder mainly comprised of sheds, some 30 in total. Most of the men residing in such temporary accommodation considered their stay in the polder as temporary. A considerable group, however, thought of their stay as an overture to a permanent stay as a farmer or tenant; it could help those who had contributed to the transformation of the polder. 


It was not easy to get a farm, a house or a job in the Noordoostpolder: you had to go through a selection process first. The government decided who was to be permitted to settle in the Noordoostpolder. Only those whose success was guaranteed beforehand were allowed.  This is why the government was not only in control of the process of draining and cultivating, but in demography as well: a perfectly engineered society. The 'Dorpenplan' (village-plan), the 'Uitgifteplan' (granting-plan) and the selection procedure would lead to a well- balanced and harmonious society. That was the ultimate goal.

The selection procedure in the Noordoostpolder was one of a kind. Initially, the Wieringemeerpolder attracted little interest. The problems with former colonization and uncertainty about farming on salty grounds had an off-putting effect. In eastern and southern Flevoland, the colonization had been given secondary importance to the needs of the ‘old’ land: farmers who had to give leave because of expanding cities, ports or airports were given priority in getting a farm.

But after the success of the Wieringermeer and influence from the booming postwar migration, the interest in the Noordoostpolder was much larger than the number of available places. Now the government had a large pool of applicants to select from. Only Zeeuws farmers, who had lost their farm due to re-allotment after the inundation of Walcheren and the great flood of 1953 were given priority in the selection, because of the importance for the old land. The result of this is that nowhere in Holland, and perhaps nowhere in the entire world, had such a stringent immigration-policy as was carried out as in the Noordoostpolder.

[Film fragment] from 'Nederland Knutseleiland' (Holland tinker-island), episode 'Nederland van boven' (Holland from above). Ultimate example of the malleable lands.

Hierarchical society

After the initial settling, the government kept working on ‘the malleability of society’. Attempts to build a society without compartmentalization were not very successful though. After some time, a lot of compartmentalized organizations found each other and succeeded in working together.


The many dialects, which the new polder inhabitants brought with them from the old land, have merged into one. Within the Noordoostpolder, a more or less accent-less pronunciation of universal Dutch is pre-dominantly spoken, by second and third generation inhabitants born in the Noordoostpolder. Possible regionalisms; for example, the use of Frisian words, are mainly the result of intensive contact with the neighboring provinces.

Overijssel en Urk

The relationship with the surrounding old land, Friesland, Overijssel and the village of Urk, are not uniform. Initially the inhabitants of the neighboring municipalities were living side-by-side, without interfering with one-another or with opposing interests. The inhabitants of the polder with their new and modern farms felt superior to the inhabitants of the old land (the idea of being ‘a chosen one’ enhanced this feeling of superiority), and the inhabitants of the surrounding old land saw the polder as a young cuckoo which had been put into their (fishing) nest.

But the relationship was also implemented in positive ways: transformation of the land and the colonization of the polder were managed from offices in Zwolle and Kampen, and the residents of the surrounding regions found education and work (and sometimes, even a partner) in the polder. As a result, the connections with the rest of Holland improved for Urk.


Film: Urk, sailing of the fishing fleet, 1959