On this day in 1963 Dutch exporters became millionaires overnight (thanks to some clever foresight)

Forget today’s Wall Street traders doing sneaky insider trading — back in the ’60s, Dutch exporters had a simple trick up their sleeve that managed to save them a casual 22 million dollars. 🤑

Here’s how it worked: in 1949 the Netherlands annexed the German town of Elten as compensation for WWII damages.

For years there were negotiations about how Germany could get their land back but finally, in 1957, it was agreed that Germany would pay 280 million Deutsch Marks to have Elten and Tüddern returned back to them on 1 August 1963.

That date is where it all got interesting.

What was the clever foresight?

Businesses knew that Elten would return to German territory on 1 August 1963 and so the night before, Dutch and German exporters filled hundreds of vans to the brim with goods like coffee and butter (that were much more expensive in Germany at the time) and quietly slept overnight in the town.

When they woke up, the trucks were automatically on German territory and no border crossing was necessary.

That meant that no import duties could be paid. We hear you asking, “so what?”.

Well, the trick saved an estimated 50 to 60 million guilders — in today’s cash, that’s roughly €22,700,000. Yep, all in a day’s work. 😉

To make matters crazier, there was so much activity on that one evening that the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia had to pay 250,000 Deutsch Marks to the municipality to repair the asphalt that had been damaged by the convoy.

The wee village of Elten is now renowned for the “Eltener Butternacht” (Elten Butter Night).

What do you think of this crafty trading? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Joop van Bilsen/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Freya Sawbridge
Freya was born in Edinburgh but raised in New Zealand (cue every person she meets saying “oh I have always wanted to go there but it’s so far away!”). A restless and curious nature has led her to move countries 5 times in the last 3 years in attempt to find a place she can call home. She contacted DutchReview on a whim and arrived in the Netherlands in summer 2019 to start her internship.

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