Finsterwolde (pop. 3,250) in northeastern Holland, hard by the German frontier, looks like any other scrubbed Dutch town; but it is not. Every year Finsterwolde sends a wire addressed to the Kremlin offering Joseph Stalin birthday congratulations. And Finsterwolde's town fathers have officially made known that should Soviet forces cross the Dutch border, the town would "welcome the Red troops with open arms."
Finsterwolde began electing Communists to its town council after World War I; in peacetime years since 1933, they have been in the majority. In 1949 the Reds won Finsterwolde by 1,022 votes to 751. Since then Hollanders have called Finsterwolde "Little Moscow."
"Little Moscow" got that way largely because of Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, an ex-clergyman with more passion for Marx than Luther who toured northern Holland in the igth Century. Nieuwenhuis first preached Socialism, moved on to anarchism and brought Finsterwolde with him. Finsterwolde's firebrands voted as far left as they could. Eventually, this meant voting Communist.
Finsterwolde's Reds make life thoroughly uncomfortable for the big landowners. During the postwar housing shortage, the rich farmers agreed to share their homes with the homeless. But, the landowners later complained, the Red town council carefully picked the most "asocial needy" to move in on the well-to-do. Currently, the Reds are plugging to build a football stadium. It turns out that the Communists intend to build the stadium astride the fields of two of the biggest landowners.
Main obstacle in the Communists' path is a steady, soft-spoken Socialist named Harm Tuin who is the Crown-appointed burgomaster of Finsterwolde. When the Reds fired the uncooperative tax collector and social security chief, Tuin wrote The Hague and got the discharged employees reinstated. Later the Communists voted illegal benefits to striking public-work employees. Tuin wrote another letter to The Hague, got the project vetoed by return mail. A Red alderman snarled: "We will settle with people of your sort."
Last week the Dutch government asked Parliament to dissolve the Finsterwolde town council and appoint Harm Tuin "governmental commissioner." Said Harm Tuin: "It isn't nice to be a dictator. On the other hand, it makes my work simpler."