Echt-Susteren, Netherlands


Echt-Susteren is a municipality in the Dutch province of Limburg. The municipality has 31,654 inhabitants (1 August 2020, source: CBS) and has an area of 103.47 km² (of which 1.16 km² is water). Together with the neighboring municipalities of Sittard-Geleen, Vaals and Gulpen-Wittem, it is one of the municipalities in the Netherlands bordering both Germany and Belgium.


Location and economy

Echt and Susteren are south of Maasbracht on the Meuse and the Juliana Canal. Both places have a train station on the Eindhoven/Roermond–Maastricht railway line. The A2 motorway between these cities also has exits to Echt and Susteren. The industry is diverse, but apart from a roof tile factory, it consists only of small businesses. Many residents commute to work, e.g. to Sittard-Geleen.

The city is located at a very narrow point in the Netherlands - the borders with Germany in the east and Belgium in the west are only around 5 km apart in the south of the municipal area. It is the narrowest border crossing of its kind in the Netherlands.



Echt and Susteren were already inhabited in the Bronze Age. A well was dug in Echt; Roman ornaments and everyday objects were found there. The treasure from Echt dates back to late antiquity. The town of Ehti was first mentioned in documents as early as 950; it was partly a crown domain of the German King Otto I.

Susteren is documented as the older part of the municipality. The founding of a nunnery in 714 is undisputed among historians. King Pepin of Herstal is said to have given it to the missionary Willibrord, who was later canonized, as a mission base (source: Arnulfingen documents No. 006 at Regnum Francorum online). In 718, the anti-king Chlotar IV stayed “in monasterium Suestra” in order to document for the monastery of Echternach (Echternach documents no. 028 at Regnum Francorum online). The first abbess was St. Amalberga from Susteren. The monastery, which is now inhabited by nuns, must have become so important that it was expressly mentioned in the Meerssen Reichspartition Treaty in 870 (“Suestre” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Cap. 2, 251 and Reg.Imp. I, 1480). 891 Emperor Arnulf deeds in Regensburg for the monastery "Suestra" (Diplomata Arnulfi No. 085 in Regnum Francorum online). As one of the last Carolingian rulers, King Zwentibold deeds 895 in St. Goar for "Suestra", which has since passed into the possession of the Prüm Monastery (Diplomata Zwentiboldi No. 002 in Regnum Francorum online).

Echt, Nieuwstadt and Susteren all got city rights in the 13th century. In 1400 "Johann von Salm" sold the towns, castles and lands of Born, Sittard and Susteren to the Duke of Geldern and Jülich for 70,000 guilders. Susteren and the other places were then part of the Duchy of Geldern, sometimes of the Duchy of Jülich. These disputes, as well as competition from other cities and some Meuse floods (flood disasters), severely affected the development of these places.

1794 to about 1815 was the French period in Susteren as well as on the entire Left Rhine.

In Echt, industrialization began in 1850 with a roof tile factory.

During the German occupation Edith Stein and Rosa Stein, who had found refuge in the Carmelite monastery in Echt since 1938, were arrested by the Gestapo on August 2, 1942 and taken to the Westerbork transit camp.

During the Second World War, Susteren and Echt were on the front line from October 1944 to January 1945 and suffered extensive damage as a result. Allied troops advanced as part of Operation Blackcock (from January 14 to 26, 1945, code name for the conquest of the area between Roermond, Sittard and Heinsberg). Because of the very cold and damp winter weather, tanks and wheeled vehicles could practically only move on roads; these were often mined by the Wehrmacht during their retreat.

On January 17, 1945, British troops liberated Susteren and around midnight the small town of Echt.
On the morning of January 18 they attacked Schilberg from Echt, the fighting lasted until the afternoon. British flamethrower tanks (Churchill Crocodile) helped break the defenders' resistance.
They pulled into Koningsbach in the early morning of January 19th.
Sint Joost was hard fought for a total of 29 hours (in defense of Sint Joost).


Sightseeing features

The St. Amelbergakirche in Susteren, a Romanesque style church from the 11th century
The market place in Echt is called Plats (a word from the local dialect). Surrounding these plats are several notable buildings, including:
a Gothic church but extensively remodeled in the 19th century
the old town hall, which has housed a museum for women since 2007, about the role of women in family and society in the past and today
several other beautifully restored houses
Water sports on the Maas are possible in the area (see also: Maasbracht)
There is a small piece of forest near Koningsbosch where you can go for a walk
The Trappist Abbey of Sint Joseph "Lilbosch" is located in the Echt district