Dutch Language Blog

Holleeder Family- The Dutch Godfather? Posted by on Feb 6, 2019 in Culture, News

I just finished reading the book “Judas” about a notorious Dutch criminal and it left me speechless! It covered the infamous Heineken ontvoering or kidnapping, the “underworld” of criminals in the Netherlands, and one family’s life in the middle of it all.

Personal Photograph

Who are the Holleeders?

The Holleder family is known first and foremost by the oldest brother, Wim Holleeder. His name became very popular in 1983 when Wim together with his friend and brother-in-law Cor van Hout, kidnapped Freddy Heineken, CEO of the brewery, and his driver. Freddy and the driver, Ab Doderer, were held for three weeks in a hidden location in Amsterdam until the losgeld or ransom of 35 million Guilders (almost €16 million) was paid.  Wim and Cor escaped to France where they were later arrested and imprisoned before being extradited to the Netherlands. Two other people involved were also arrested and served their sentence. There are both a Dutch and an American film of the kidnapping based on the book written by famous Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries (the same journalist helping the family of Nicky Verstappen).

After the kidnapping, Wim and Cor continued to be involved in the criminal world and both served time in jail on and off. Cor van Hout was later killed leaving his wife and children to deal with the aftermath.

Astrid Holleeder

Afraid for her life, Astrid, Wim’s youngest sister, decided to cooperate with police to gather enough evidence to arrest Wim. For many years, there had been investigations and short sentences, but never anything substantial. Astrid who was at times Wim’s confidant and advisor started wearing a recording device while at the same time informing the police of the crimes she knew her brother had been involved in, including Cor van Hout’s murder. With the help of her sister Sonja, Peter R. de Vries, and Wim’s ex-girlfriend Sandra, they were able to provide enough information to the police for an official arrest. Wim is still on trial and is currently in a maximum security prison. The trial is expected to conclude this year.

The book and TV series

After the arrest, the Holleeder’s once again made headlines with the publishing of the book “Judas” written by Astrid. In this book, she talks about their lives from childhood up until Wim’s arrest. In it, she shares the struggle she had between wanting to save her life and that of her family but betraying her brother. Astrid also discusses the reaction people had to her last name after the Heineken kidnapping, and, in my opinion, she also tries to clarify her role in her brother’s criminal life.

The book was published at around the time I moved to the Netherlands, and I remember all the commotion and talks about the book. Everyone was reading it and discussing it! The English version came out last year and was quickly picked up by news outlets worldwide. Her follow-up book “Dagboek van een getuige” or Diary of a Witness deals with the aftermath after the arrest, the lack of security or support from the authorities, and her experience having to testify during the trial.

In January of this year, the TV series based on the book was released and reception has been quite positive. Below is an excerpt from the Dutch TV show RTL Boulevard that discusses the TV series together with Peter R. de Vries.

Was the Holleeder case talked about in your country?

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!


  1. Lennox:

    I too have followed the Wim Holleeder stories….during my twenty years in nl.
    Unbelievable how he managed to liquidate prime witnesses…from his prison cell.
    I also read he received legal aid from the government for all his trials…..his ill earned money hidden in foreign bank accounts.
    Astrid has earned 2 million with her books
    She was a prosecuting lawyer for 20 years !
    Peter de Vries also earns a lot with his books and tv shows….and was Cor van Hout’s best friend
    I once opened a glossy magazine…whilst waiting at the dentists….and was horrified to see Wim Holleeder….advertising the expensive wrist watch make…with nearly the same name as his
    It is sickening how the media and public fascination for crime ..have made the whole family/ friends
    into big business