Smuggling trails

There is nothing more adventurous than running through north-east Twente, our country's smuggling region. Over narrow winding paths, ditches, streams, farms, illegal distilleries and over bridges. Butter, coffee, sugar, gin and even women were smuggled back and forth here over the centuries in the days when Corona was just a woman's name.

When the ` twilight' fell like a blanket over the border area and the moon disappeared behind the clouds, the smugglers would emerge with their contraband, in addition to the white women who were intoxicated by drink. In the dark, wary of the border guards, they went up to the `Pruus`.

It was an exciting and addictive journey through the desolate and mystical borderlands. Should they be caught on their journey, their answer was invariably: "I come from Losser and know nothing". Siemerink one of the youngest smugglers went along just for the adventure and excitement. He was a guy with butter on his head, so a real smuggler!

Regularly they had to call him back on the journey through the border area because he was too far ahead. "Damn boy come back, next time we'll put you on the hundred belt. And remember if the policemen stop you, just say "I'm from Losser and don't know anything", the older smugglers hissed at him. Ja Siemerink went along for the kick and the endorphins and was, in retrospect, the first runner in our country. Not on shoes with shock absorbers but on clogs. Beyond the Bardel monastery, where most of the priests were still bachelors, there was a remote farm just across the border in the mists and that's where the smuggled goods were delivered.

Eddy Oude Voshaar



The Smuggling Nugget

Smuggling took place on foot or by bicycle. Smugglers would often sneak across the border at dusk over sandy lanes and through wooded areas. On foot, this was done with the smuggling clog. These clogs were used by smugglers in the German-Dutch border region to fool customs officials. On the underside, the sole and heel were swapped, so that the investigating officers followed the smugglers' trail in the wrong direction, especially in snow, this was a tried and tested tactic.