THE MIRACLE of Rotterdam is much like the miracle of neighboring West Germany. Both have been reborn from ruins.
Many German cities were destroyed by Allied bombers during the closing years of World War II.
Likewise Rotterdam in 1940. In one hour the bombs of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) set fires that turned Rotterdam into a virtual desert. Six hundred forty acres of buildings were destroyed. Twenty-five thousand families were left homeless. Nine hundred people died.
Much of the port area was finally destroyed in 1944. Rotterdam had to start all over after VE Day.
Within three weeks of the main destruction in May 1940, its enterprising citizens were laying rough plans for the reconstruction of the city. Today it is a panorama of buildings that make an impressive sight from Euromast, a tower with an excellent restaurant and view of Rotterdam.
Today Dutch ingenuity has made the port a complex network of refineries, dry docks, grain terminals, storage tanks and container facilities. The port of Rotterdam stretches for 25 miles along the mouth of the Rhine River at the North Sea. A ship either enters or leaves the port area every 8l;2 minutes.
And Now, Dutch — German Cooperation How ironic that the Germans and the Dutch — former enemies in the early 1940s — are now models of cObperation. They depend on one another. Both are members of the European Community (EC) or Common Market.
Today Rotterdam and the Federal Republic of Germany enjoy an enormously profitable business relationship. More West German tonnage passes through the port of Rotterdam than the three leading West German ports combined. According to The International Herald Tribune in December 1980: "The city's geographical position at the mouth of the Rhine, which made it a gateway for waterborne traffic to West Germany, is its trump card" (emphasis mine).
Geography has been kind to Rotterdam. Most European capitals and industrial centers are no more than 600 miles away. Rotterdam sees itself as Europe's port. The city's newest development, nearest to the North Sea, is called Europoort. In Dutch the double 0 in Europoort suggests "gateway" rather than mere "harbor."
Rotterdam — gateway to Europe? Most certainly, yes. But more importantly a gateway to Germany — the Federal Republic for now — but how long before a gateway to all of Germany, including the German Democratic Republic of East Germany? More about that later.
Germany, Oil and Rotterdam The Columbia Encyclopedia makes a vitally important point in its write — up about Rotterdam: "Europoort, a large harbor area opposite Hoek van Holland built largely in the 1960s, is designed chiefly for unloading and storing petroleum. Rotterdam owes its importance mainly to the transit trade with the Ruhr district of NW Germany, with which it is connected by several waterways and oil pipelines" (page 2,364, fourth edition). Petroleum products still make the world go round. Their importance accelerates in any world crisis.
In recent years much has been made of oil gluts and falling petroleum prices. Even the power of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has been substantially eroded. But temporary trends can be deceiving. Long-term prognostications indicate an absolute dwindling pool of oil. Why? Because the world is consuming oil at a rate of 900 billion gallons a year! Reserves still underground are vast, but will not last all that long.
Oil shortages in the foreseeable future will grab the headlines once again. Storage and reserves in Rotterdam will grow in importance for Germany — more so in the future than now.
However, a report in Elseviers Magazine — a Dutch weekly — is well worth noting. Said the title: "Holland Is Becoming an Oil Land." To sum up the article: The Netherlands will produce 25 percent of their petroleum needs by the end of 1985. In five years' time, estimates run as high as 50 percent.
This is all due to a discovery right under Rotterdam of potentially the biggest oil field in Holland. Already it is pumping more petroleum than the traditional fields in the east of the Netherlands. We can only guess as to its future importance for Holland and Germany. But its value to heavy industry in incalculable.
The East German Link Despite political fits and starts, inter-German trade is growing. Economic links between Bonn and East Berlin are imperative for East Germany and even the Soviet Union, both of which desperately need West German deutsche marks.
Consumer products in both Germanys are becoming more homogeneous. Remarked one businessman in West Berlin about clothing made in East Germany: "You can hardly see the difference. They are using Western designs" (International Herald Tribune, May 7).
The Soviet Union has good reason to restrain a potential political unification of the two Germanys. But the Soviets are not preventing ever closer economic ties. Continues the Tribune article: "... East Germany and the Soviet Union have accepted a special relationship between the two Germanys in the economic field that both continue to reject on the political level."
But what began as economic cooperation may well turn into political cooperation within the scope of an expanding Common Market.
Our point is that Rotterdam may eventually wind up as a key oil supply depot for both East and West Germany. European political borders have proved changeable in this 20th century. Whole countries and empires have disappeared from the European political map. Transitory artificial and unnatural borders have been imposed.
Profound political changes will shock humanity before this century ends. Bible prophecy forecasts astonishing events in Europe. A new 10-nation superpower will arise in Europe. And Rotterdam will playa key role in these events.
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