The outbreak of World War II in May 1940 has a major impact on the shipping trade. Not many ship owners are inclined to put into countries at war, and when there is a real danger of mines. With the passage of time the situation begins to stabilise and Groningen-based motor vessels resume their regular passage from the Baltic to Delfzijl with cargoes of sawn timber. Delfzijl becomes a popular transit port and for the first few years it teems with shipping traffic. The offices in Rotterdam and Amsterdam find themselves with less to do and eventually they are closed down.

During the forties a new shipping office is built where the hotel-restaurant "De Beurs" is located. This is built with the unusual addition of a lookout station on the roof so that the ship agents can spot ships on the Eems from far away. This is extremely efficient as the loading and unloading administration can be settled by the time the ships arrive in port. The office is designed by Groningen architect J. Beckering Vinckers and the much admired image of the scantily-clad woman (symbol of the sea) above the entrance is the work of artist Willem Valk. During the low-key opening of the office the staff presents the management with a painting of their latest acquisition: the coaster "Favoriet".

Coastal shipping is strictly regulated and monitored during the war. Military laws are introduced making it possible for the Germans to seize ships from their owners and use them for their own purposes and in some cases ships are converted and put into military use. In 1941 the ship "Favoriet", built by shipyard Sander in Delfzijl, is seized by the Germans and is subsequently lost at Saint Malo in April 1942.

The new office at Marktstraat has only just been opened when it is commandeered by the Germans in August 1942 to be deployed as a hospital.

After the war it emerges that the ship "De Hollandia" has played an important role in the resistance.  This ship, with Captain Roossien at the helm, was used by the resistance group Zwaantje to get to neutral Sweden. It was easy to hide people on board on the way out and on the return journey the ship brought illegal transmitters into the Netherlands. The resistance group was eventually betrayed.

After the liberation, offices and homes are cleaned up and various owners travel  throughout Europe to search the ships that the Germans had taken, and this ironically results in foreign ties being re-established.

Share this page