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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.
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.
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.
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?