Amstelveen: Last squatted house evicted

[Press release] Amstelveen (Netherlands) – Today, we, the group of people living at the Villa Aardappeleters (Potato Eaters), have left the house. After a legal battle of 6 years, we have chosen to respect the verdict of the Amsterdam court and to leave our home without a physical fight.

Villa Aardappeleters at the JC van Hattumweg 3 in Amstelveen would have been squatted for 19 years next month. In its 19 years of existence, the group had almost 30 inhabitants. Some of them lived here for more than 10 years, others for only a few months. Where one inhabitant consciously chose for the freedom and space that this special place offered, for others it was pure necessity, as, for example, for some undocumented persons who have lived here.

Although Villa Aardappeleters was a rather unknown squat, it has an infamous past. After the building was squatted in March 2003, the squatters found several weapons and explosives hidden in the attic during a party.

This prompted the police to evict the building and detonate the explosives in the adjacent field. Also in the house of then owner René Putzfeld at the Amsterdamseweg various chemicals and explosives were found and a part of the street was evacuated. René Putzfeld was detained for several months for this. The squatters were able to resquat the building after 2 days. Although the building was René’s on paper, the real owner was his father Johannes Putzfeld, who at the time owned several residential and commercial properties. After the property was bought in 1990, it was never used as a house. In addition to being used as a weapon storage, the property served as the address for a mail-order in explosives and other bomb-making supplies. Also it was used to distribute books such as “How to make a body disappear”, “How to make a bomb” and “Mein Kampf”.

After this special first year, the house experienced over 12 quiet years where nobody of the Putzfeld family interfered with their property. Not Johannes Putzfeld, the pater familias, not René Putzfeld, the weapon and explosives reseller, not Johannes Putzfeld jr, the convicted scammer of more than a million euro’s and not Charlotte Putzfeld, the daughter and the current only inheritor. During this period the house, which was found in very poor condition, could be refurbished and maintained and a large vegetable garden was created which was feeding several other places in our community. Since 2014, the Putzfeld family has been trying to get the house back. First through physical threats and since 2016 through legal proceedings. In those proceedings, it appears over and over that the family had no consistent story about what it intends to do with the property. Their plans changed so often that the court ruled up to 3 times in favor of the squatters. Until last December 2021. After a 2,5 years procedure in which it seemed impossible for Charlotte Putzfeld, heiress of Johannes Putzfeld, to prove her ever changing plans, the court gave her the benefit of the doubt. Although the squatters see only a false agreement and an unrealistic renovation plan, the court indicates it wants “a sustainable solution” for the house and is satisfied with the poor evidence Putzfeld provides.

We see yet another space that must disappear for the sake of economic gain. The city is becoming unaffordable. Villa Aardappeleters was one of the last free spots in the Amsterdam area. Affordable housing is not a luxury. Affordable living is the condition for creativity and organizing activities that are not about profit. Our house was a small living community on the edge of the city and the countryside. It served not only as a home for its residents but was also a meeting place from many different people. What remains is the next unaffordable villa for the highest bidder.

The residents of Villa Aardappeleters
hattumweg3 [at] riseup [dot] net

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