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Smuggling in Elten

The 'butter night' - and don't forget the pigs!

Here we are, standing on the highest hill in Emmerich District. Between 1949 and 1963 Eltenberg Mountain was even the highest mountain in the Netherlands, because at that time it was part of that country, together with Elten. Because of its height, you have a wonderful view of what was abroad at that time. The Wild, at the foot of Eltenberg Mountain, was the boundary river between the Netherlands and the Federal Republic - we would have been standing in the Netherlands here. But wherever there's a border, smuggling is not far away. It was rife here. In the 14 Dutch years, everything that was expensive in Germany was secretly brought over the border. If every smuggler had had a red light on their heads on a new moon night, there would have been quite a throng to see here along the border. Every rucksack was full of coffee, tea, cocoa and spare parts for bikes. Butter in particular had high profit margins. Customs officers didn't seem to threaten this flourishing cross-border trade. The locals simply knew the area better and were up to every trick. Clogs were one such popular trick - wooden clogs with a sole facing backwards. Those footprints must have really confused the poor customs officers! The smuggling came to a climax right at the very end. When July became August in 1963, Elten was returned to the Federal Republic of Germany. On the evening of 31 July the whole village was full of butter - behind closed doors people whisper about 600 lorry loads and worn out roads! In the sties, countless Dutch pugs were waiting for midnight when the moving border would make legal Dutch butter and Dutch pigs into legal German butter and real German pigs! We have achieved a lot with the EU, but there is probably a bit less fun.

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