February flood 1825

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February flood 1825, Great Hallig flood
Storm Storm ( Atlantic low )
Flood Very severe storm surge
Beginning February 2, 1825
Tide peak February 3, second half of the night
The End February 4, 1825
affected areas North Sea coast , Elbe estuary
Victim approx. 800 fatalities

The February flood of 1825 , also known as the Great Hallig Flood in Germany , was a flood catastrophe from February 3 to 5, 1825 on the entire German, Danish and Dutch North Sea coast as well as in the lower Weser and Elbe regions and their tributaries, in which around 800 people drowned and very serious damage was caused. The record water levels observed up to that point were clearly exceeded at almost all locations; it must have been one of the heaviest floods in the past centuries.

Development of the weather situation

Although no systematic weather observations were carried out at the time of the storm surge (these began in the area in 1825), numerous reports give a fairly good picture of the course of the storm weather situation. Parallels to the storm surge weather situation from 16./17. February 1962 as well as from 24./25. November 1981 , which was caused by a hurricane low of the Scandinavian type . Contemporary chroniclers emphasize independently that the hurricane that triggered the storm surge was nowhere near as strong as the hurricane of November 15, 1824 , but lasted for a remarkably long time and sometimes caused similarly high water levels with two tides in a row. The previous November flood exceeded this flood by about 2 to 5  feet (1 to 1½ m).

The winter of 1824/25 was extraordinarily mild and stormy. Storms and storm surges had already occurred on October 31, November 3, November 15 and December 21, 1824, which in some cases caused severe damage to the dikes on the islands and Halligen. The first high point was reached with the storm surge on November 15th. The stormy westerly wind conditions then continued until January 3, 1825. After the storm of January 3, 1825, the weather settled down significantly.

The weather situation causing the catastrophic flood began on February 2, 1825. In the evening hours, the area was covered by rain. Simultaneously with its passage, there was a strong increase in wind on the night of February 3rd. After the rain area had passed through, the wind turned west in the afternoon hours, before the wind jumped northwest in the early evening of the 3rd after the cold front had passed through. As the wind turned to the northwest, the storm was accompanied by severe thunderstorms, hail showers and hurricane gusts. The storm only subsided on February 4th. Unfortunately, the storm peak fell on the March full moon of the year (February 3rd), i.e. coincident with the lunar spring tide .

Another very heavy flood followed in Denmark on November 27 of that year, some of which ran higher than the February event.

Course of the tide

Problems when looking at the traditional water levels

About the course and the height of the storm surge from 3./4. February 1825 the numerous flood marks and the records of eyewitnesses provide information. Systematic level recordings with automatic writing levels did not yet exist, but there were bar levels in some places. The maximum water levels mentioned in official reports are therefore based on estimates in many places. It is also unclear to what extent the failure to take account of the wave run-up on the dykes and Wurten led to a misjudgment of the actual water level. In his report published in 1826, Arends emphasized that the water level information that has been handed down to us is sometimes incorrect and must be critically examined, referring to the unusually heavy swell during the storm tide. Another difficulty in assessing the traditional water levels is the fact that the metric system of measurement had not yet been introduced in the affected area and that the chroniclers used different, regional foot measurements.

AB Hollmann 'reports that due to the storm that had been prevailing since the night of February 3rd, the midday flood on the Oldenburg coast was significantly higher. The persistent storm prevented the water from draining significantly and resulted in a significant shortening of the ebb time. With the beginning of the tide, a very rapid rise in the water level was observed in all places on the North Sea coast. The crowns of the main dykes and the houses on the Halligen's Hauswurten had already been reached two to three hours before the astronomical tide flooded and were flooded. The dikes were badly damaged and broke. At noon on February 4, the nocturnal catastrophic tide was followed by another, very strongly increased night tide, which in some areas reached heights similar to the previous evening and night floods and had devastating consequences for the heavily damaged dyke sections.

Maximum water levels reached

On the basis of various studies and calculations, it has been possible to reconstruct the maximum water levels reached during the storm surge for some locations on the German North Sea coast and in the Elbe region. In relation to NN the maximum water level in Emden was +4.65 m, in Wangerooge a maximum water level of +4.36 m, in Wilhelmshaven of +5.03 m, in Bremerhaven of +5.04 m and in Cuxhaven of +4, 65 m reached. In relation to the difference between the storm surge water level that occurred and the actual mean tidal high water, the water levels reached during the storm surge in Emden, Wangerooge and Wilhelmshaven were significantly higher at 3.65 m (Emden), 3.33 m (Wangerooge) and 3.73 m (Wilhelmshaven) those reached during the February storm flood in 1962 and the first January storm flood in 1976 .


Similar to the Christmas flood in 1717 , the storm surge in 1962 or the Holland storm surge in 1953 , the February storm surge in 1825 hit the North Sea coast immediately after a long period of political and economic crisis. Due to the chaos of war as a result of the French Revolution , the Napoleonic occupation, the continental blockade and the associated economic crisis, coastal protection and dyke building had been neglected for decades. The storm surge of 1825 hit inadequately maintained dikes that had already been damaged and sodden due to the series of storms that lasted from October 31, 1824 to January 3, 1825. Damage was only limited where the dykes had been maintained. The first-rate weak points during the storm surge were, in addition to insufficient dyke heights and steep inner embankments, systems on and on the dike such as the dyke and sluice as well as buildings standing on and on the dyke. On the Halligen and in the areas not protected by dykes, such as river islands, the height of the Wurten proved to be completely inadequate to protect people from the high water level and the swell.

The Brockhaus (1836) reported that the number of victims was relatively low by "many were saved, because it was on the night of the first flood moonlight and the second came in the daytime."


In the Danish monarchy the spit of the Limfjord on the west coast of Jutland as well as the Schleswig Wadden Sea and the Holstein Elbe Marsh were affected.

Northwest Jutland

On the Danish west coast, the flood broke through the Agger Tange headland to the Limfjord , creating the Agger Canal . Since that day the northern part of the Danish mainland, consisting of Thy , Han Herred and Vendsyssel , forms the second largest Danish island Vendsyssel-Thy . The Agger Channel, although in the meantime again to residues sands , but before another storm surge in 1862 had further south caused some another breakthrough today as Thyborøn channel is preserved by dredging and ensure that Vendsyssel-Thy an island remains. The port and settlement of Thyborøn were built on the southern spit in the 20th century . The two spits are protected by courtyards and extensive sand flooding .

North Friesland

The Halligen and Pellworm , which was completely flooded, were hardest hit . Serious damage had already occurred here during the storm surges in autumn 1824. There was also serious damage on Sylt , where there was not only severe dune demolition near Rantum , but it was also completely flooded from the tidal flats. A sea dike near Westerland built in 1821 was completely destroyed. In Rantum, which was particularly hard hit by the flood, water penetrated 100 houses, 15 of which were destroyed. The population fled to the adjacent dunes. Similarly severe damage occurred on Amrum . On Föhr the dike broke in a total of 5 places, which led to a complete flooding of the island. Two people were killed, there were very high livestock losses and severe property damage.

However, the Halligen were hardest hit . Due to the inadequately high Wurten and the unusually high water level, the houses here quickly got into the surf area. Of a total of 339 houses on the Halligen, 79 were completely destroyed by waves and 233 uninhabitable. On Hooge 28 people were killed, on Nordmarsch and Langeneß 30, and on Gröde 10. On Südfall all 5 houses were destroyed and all 12 residents were killed.

Holstein Elbe region

Memorial stone to the dike breach in Hetlingen

In the Haseldorfer Marsch the Elbe dike broke in several places near Haseldorf , Haselau and Hetlingen , so that it was flooded meters high. Neuendeich was flooded so high that “the houses in the field only protrude from the floods with their roofs”. In the other communities "houses were terribly destroyed, and some were also torn away". In Hetlingen, the breach of the dyke formed a large brackish mark . In Haselau, the Holy Three Kings Church became the central refuge, but there was a lack of food, which only arrived there after days. On February 6, "40 people were found tired of hunger in a house belonging to the Haselau community by the old dike on the Elbe". Much livestock drowned in the floods.


Break of the city dike in front of Hamburg
Break point of the city dike in front of Hamburg

The city of Hamburg was completely flooded in its lower parts, almost a third of the residents were affected by the flood. In addition to the Ritzebüttel and Neuwerk authorities at the time, Moorburg and Finkenwerder were particularly affected by the Hamburg area ; the latter was completely flooded, two people died. On Neuwerk, the flood led to the demand for an island school , as the farmers feared for the future of their farms.

Lower Saxony and Bremen

For the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony there is a detailed report by Fridrich Arends , which was published in 1826, a year after the flood disaster. Another, concerning the glory of Kniphausen and the inheritance of Jever, was presented by the Oldenburg bailiff AB Hollmann in 1857.

Lower Saxony North Sea coast

The dykes of the Krummhörn and the associated Greetsiel office were extremely badly affected by the storm surge . A total of 104 people were killed here, 48 in Greetsiel alone. In the area of Manslagt , Pilsum and Greetsiel, the sea dike was almost completely flooded, resulting in numerous landslides and dike breaches. Greetsiel was completely flooded in the evening hours, causing severe damage to the buildings. The numerous facilities and buildings in and on the dike ultimately led to the main dike breaking in a total of eight places. Even the sluice could not withstand the rushing masses of water and was destroyed, so that the water could flow unhindered into the Greetsieler inland low. The dikes at the Grimersumer Polder and at the Hagenpolder were largely destroyed. Here the dikes broke in a total of 51 places.

In the area of ​​what was then the north office , the dikes were severely damaged; A total of 57 dike breaches occurred here, plus many top falls. Likewise, sluices were destroyed. In some cases, the main dikes behind the summer dikes were also badly damaged or destroyed. The second tide on the morning of February 4 had a particularly devastating effect, as it exceeded the height of the night floods in some cases and hit the polders that were already completely filled. A total of 310 people were killed in the area of ​​what was then the north office. In addition, there was very high damage to property and very high livestock losses. The summer dike between Norddeich and Neßmersiel was almost completely destroyed throughout; the main dike behind it was also badly damaged in parts. Dike breaches occurred here. Only the dike in front of the Neßmersieler Osterpolder withstood the floods. The inland town of Berum was also flooded by the dike breaches.

East Frisian Islands

On Borkum there were large dunes in the west; a large dune breakthrough emerged in the southwest. The dyke of the east country, which was not yet connected to the western part of the island, broke, so that the entire agricultural area was flooded. On Juist there were also large dune breaks in the west of the island. This led to the formation of a total of four dune breakthroughs in the west of the island. Several houses in the village were flooded and destroyed. While there was only minor damage on Norderney , the situation on Baltrum was catastrophic. There was not only a dramatic loss of dunes in the west, but also a large dune breakthrough in the middle of the island. Of the 14 houses that stood on the island before the flood, 11 were destroyed, mostly by flotsam from a stranded ship. However, the residents were able to get to safety in the high dunes in good time. The destruction of the dunes in the area of ​​what was then the western head of Baltrum was so severe that the location there had to be relocated to the east.

Ems area

The storm surge caused severe damage in the area of ​​the Ems and the Dollarts . There were numerous dike breaches and extensive flooding. The worst hit was Emden . There, around 7 p.m., around an hour after the astronomical low tide, the water entered the largely unprotected parts of the city from the Ratsdelft . As a result, rates of rise of 2 cm per minute were observed. The flood protection systems in the protected districts turned out to be completely inadequate. They were either flooded or collapsed due to structural defects. The damage caused by the night floods was exacerbated by the also very high noon flood, which led to renewed flooding of the city. Fortunately, only one person was killed in Emden, despite the very serious damage to dykes, dyke walls, ostriches and buildings, as well as major livestock losses.

The Heinitzpolder dike broke in four places on the Dollart . Not only was the entire polder flooded and all the buildings located there badly damaged, there was also serious damage to the rear dike of the second dike line; a dike charter was destroyed, so that the flood poured into the Rheiderland . Serious damage was also caused to the sea dike near Pogum. In Ditzum, the entire place was flooded with the exception of the church and a few adjacent houses.

Serious damage and numerous dike breaches also occurred on the Ems dykes above Emden and far above Papenburg. Large parts of the Emsmarsch and the Moormarsch behind it were flooded. Serious damage to the land was caused by the silting of the agriculturally used areas and silting up of the drainage ditches. Particularly badly affected was u. a. Empty place at the mouth of the Leda. There the water broke through the dyke charter on the Ems ferry, which was in an inadequate state of construction . This led to the flooding of the entire place. Except for one person, all residents were saved. The Ems dykes also suffered severe damage above the mouth of the Leda. Here the dikes broke u. a. at Weener, Süderhammrich and on the Mittling opposite dike.

Leda and Jümme area

In the area of Leda , Jümme and Sagter Ems , which was already hit by severe floods in autumn 1824 , severe damage occurred to the dykes and extensive flooding that reached as far as the Oldenburg areas in Ammerland and Saterland . In Apen , Rhauder-Osterfehn and Westerfehn and Langholt water penetrated the houses. The port city of Leer got off more lightly. Due to the high altitude of the city, only brief floods occurred in the lower areas. In total, the dikes broke in 12 places in the Leda area, among others at Esclum, Resse, Tjaleger, Osterhammrich, the Herrlichkeit Evenburg and at Loger Siel; there was also countless serious damage, such as collapses and slope slides. The dike between Detern and Holtgast was completely destroyed by the storm surge. The Deichschart on what was then the Leda ferry south of Leer was also destroyed. Even securing the Schaart in good time could not prevent the destruction.

Weser area

In the area of ​​the Lower Weser, the dike on the left bank of the Weser between Blexen and Großensiel was overflowed for a length of almost 15 km due to its insufficient height. This caused severe damage to the dike as a result of the inner embankment sliding down, which spread to form mountain falls. To the south of Blexen there were three breaches of the dike, and two more occurred in the Nordenham area . In Blexen alone, 13 people died as a result of the flood, there was very high damage to the buildings and there was high loss of livestock. As a result of large-scale flooding, the seeds in the fields were destroyed. The low-lying Sietländer, on which the water stood for several weeks, were particularly affected.

In the Rodenkirchen office to the south of what was then the Blexen office , there was also serious damage to the dykes, which were flooded in many places due to their insufficient height. In addition to numerous mountain falls, there were a total of nine dike breaches, the largest of them on the Abser Siel. Large areas of the marshland in the Rodenkirchen office were also flooded. There were no human lives to be complained about, but there were considerable livestock losses and very high damage to property.

In the Brakes urban area , it was possible to hold the lock and prevent the gates from breaking. At the village of Käseburg, however, there were two dike breaches, at Hammelwarden and Fünfhausen there were major falls. Here, too, the entire hinterland was flooded, the low-lying areas west of Brake were in some cases under water for several weeks.

In Elsfleth , the dykes on the Weser held up to a large extent, with the exception of a Kappsturz in which two people died in the houses directly on the dyke. The dyke breaches on the Huntedeich in Altenhuntorf , which led to extensive flooding of the marsh lands, were serious here . Serious damage to the dike occurred on the western bank of the Weser in the Warfleth area above the mouth of the Huntes . At Bardenfleth the dike broke in two places. Another dike breach occurred on the Huntedeich near Dreisielen, so that extensive flooding occurred in the Stedinger Land .

While there was no major damage on the eastern bank of the Weser in the then Hanoverian office of Blumenthal due to the location on the Geestrücken, north of it at Sandstedt , Offenwarden and Rechtenfleth there was major dike breaches and severe damage to the dikes. Due to the favorable altitude of the places, these were not or only partially flooded. Here only areas used for agriculture were affected by the flooding. However, severe damage was caused to the buildings located in low-lying areas.

In the area of ​​the Landwührdens , which at that time belonged to Oldenburg , severe damage occurred due to the insufficient height of the dykes. The storm surge claimed 13 lives here. Overall, the Weser dike in Landwuehrden was almost completely flooded over a length of approx. 12 km, which led to 13 severe falls or dike breaches. Serious damage was caused to the houses on the dikes. The Luneplate , which is not protected by dykes, was also particularly hard hit . Here a farm was completely destroyed due to the insufficient height of the Wurt , resulting in great livestock losses and very high damage to property.

Eastern area

In the Oste river basin , the dikes were seriously damaged; Numerous buildings were destroyed or severely damaged by the floods. To make matters worse, the dykes above Oberndorf had already been severely damaged by the storm surges in November 1824 and could not be repaired in time before the February storm surge.

Between Neuhaus and Geversdorf , the dikes were overflowed on both sides of the river, which led to serious damage and numerous falls. The ferry location Geversdorf was also badly affected. Due to its insufficient height, the dike broke in 13 places between Geversdorf and Bentwisch . Four people were killed. In the section of the river between Bentwisch and Oberndorf, the dikes broke in eight places on both sides of the river. This meant that the marshes and the places Osten and Himmelpforten were flooded from the rear after the break of a wing dike. In the section of the river between the east and Bremervörde there were also dike breaches and mountain falls, which caused floods here that reached as far as the Geestrand. However, due to the high location of the settlements, the damage was limited.

Flood in Lemmer (IJsselmeer)


In the Netherlands , the February flood was the greatest natural disaster of the 19th century. Most of the dead and the highest damage occurred in Groningen , Friesland and Overijssel . The reactions at the national level could well be compared with those on the occasion of the flood disaster of 1953 ; however, the incident with the repair of the damage was quickly forgotten and had no political or structural consequences. It took the disaster of 1953 to draft the Delta Plan and significantly improve coastal protection.


  • HWC Hübbe: Vom Hammerbrook, 1st breakthrough of the city dike in 1825… . In communications from the Association for Hamburg History . Volume 5, born in 1882, Hamburg 1883.
  • Fridrich Arends: Painting of the storm surges from 3.-5. February 1825 . Bremen 1826 ( Google eBook, full view ).
  • AB Hollmann: Brief description of the storm surges of 1825 concerning the rule of Jever and the glory of Kniphausen. Oldenburg, 1857 ( digitized , lb-oldenburg.de).
  • Karl Lohmeyer : Literary and other aftermath of the last great storm surge of February 3rd and 4th, 1825 . Yearbook of the Men from the Morning Star, Vol. 22 (1926).
  • Otto Höch: The storm surge from 3./4. February 1825 in the state of Hamburg In: Journal of the Association for Hamburg History , Volume 28, 1927 ( digitized version, uni-hamburg.de)
  • Mixed News, Brussels February 15th . In: Der Wanderer auf das Jahr 1825 , first volume January to June , Verlag Anton Strauss, Vienna 1825, p. 99/100 (magazine report about the floods of winter; Google eBook, full view ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 13 ( Google eBook ).
  2. Lit. Der Wanderer 1825, 1, p. 99, col. 2
  3. Austrian Observer No. 1 (Saturday, January 1, 1825), Verlag A. Strauss, 1825; Denmark , p. 17, col. 1/2 ( Google eBook, full view ).
  4. ^ AB Hollmann: Brief description of the storm surges of 1825 concerning the rule of Jever and the glory of Kniphausen. Oldenburg 1857, p. 1 ff.
  5. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 6 ( Google eBook ).
  6. a b A.B. Hollmann: Brief description of the storm surges of 1825 concerning the rule of Jever and the glory of Kniphausen. Oldenburg 1857, p. 2 ff.
  7. ^ A b Heinz Schelling: The storm surges on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein with special consideration of the conditions at the Husum gauge. In: The coast - archive for research and technology on the North and Baltic Seas. Vol. 1, volume 1., p. 69 f.
  8. Lit. Der Wanderer 1825, 1, p. 100, col. 2.
  9. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 14 ( Google eBook ).
  10. Heinz Schelling: The storm surges on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein with special consideration of the conditions at the Husum gauge. In: The coast - archive for research and technology on the North and Baltic Seas. Vol. 1, volume 1., p. 69 f.
  11. ^ A b Hans Rohde: Storm surge heights and secular water level rise on the German North Sea coast. In: The Coast , Issue 30, 1970.
  12. Karl Lueders: Wangerooch hett'n hooge gates ... . In: Forschungsstelle Norderney: Annual Report 1976 , Vol. 28, 1977.
  13. ^ Karl Lüders: About the period of validity of the "design water level for sea dikes" on the German North Sea coast. Research Center Norderney, Annual Report 1969. Vol. 21, 1971.
  14. Engineering Commission of the Lower Saxony Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forests: Experiences and conclusions from the January storm surges 1976 for coastal protection in Lower Saxony . In: The coast . H. 33, 1979.
  15. Storm surges (the) . In: General German real encyclopedia for the educated classes: Conversations-Lexikon , Volume 10, Brockhaus, Leipzig 1836, pp. 760–761 (quotation p. 761; Google eBook, full view ).
  16. The Store Danske : Agger Tange , accessed on March 17, 2012 (Danish).
  17. ^ Carl Peter Hansen : Chronicle of the Frisian Uthlande. Altona 1856, p. 244.
  18. ^ Carl Peter Hansen: Chronicle of the Frisian Uthlande. Altona 1856, p. 245.
  19. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 287 ( Google eBook ).
  20. a b c Hamburger Correspondent No. 4, 1825 (report from Uetersen of February 7, 1825)
  21. ^ Wilhelm Ehlers: History and folklore of the Pinneberg district. JM Groth, Elmshorn 1922, pp. 157/158
  22. Otto Höch: The storm surge from 3./4. February 1825 in the Hamburg state territory In: Journal of the Association for Hamburg History , Volume 28, 1927, p. 165
  23. Otto Höch: The storm surge from 3./4. February 1825 in the Hamburg state territory In: Journal of the Association for Hamburg History , Volume 28, 1927, p. 172
  24. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 49 ( Google eBook ).
  25. a b Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , S. oA
  26. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 162 ( Google eBook ).
  27. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 165 ( Google eBook ).
  28. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 166 ( Google eBook ).
  29. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 167 ff ( Google eBook ).
  30. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 173 ff ( Google eBook ).
  31. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , p. 176 ff ( Google eBook ).
  32. Lit. Arends: Gemählde der Sturmfluten… , pp. 195 ff ( Google eBook ).