Oder flood 1997

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Or flood in July 1997: closed dike gap in Zollbrücke
THW fills sandbags at Hohensaaten
Dam path from Hohenwutzen to Hohensaaten shortly before the high tide
German shore west of Sikierki
Level mark in Frankfurt (Oder) - 1930 (sign) and 1997 (handwritten, top right)

The Oder flood in 1997 ( Polish : Powódź tysiąclecia (millennium flood)) was the largest known flood of the Oder . Floods on the Oder rivers caused severe damage in July and August in the Czech Republic , Poland and Germany and claimed numerous victims (20 in the Czech Republic and 54 in Poland). The damage is estimated at 3.8 billion euros in the Czech Republic and Poland and 330 million euros in Germany. The Bundeswehr , Federal Border Police , German Life Rescue Society (DLRG), German Red Cross (DRK), Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (JUH), fire brigade , Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Germany were involved in coping with the flood and taking defensive measures in Germany (ASB) as well as the technical relief organization (THW) involved with great personnel expenditure.


The cause of the flood was a so-called Vb weather situation , triggered by the low pressure areas Xolska and Zoe , which triggered extensive heavy precipitation for a long time in the Czech and Polish mountain regions ( Giant Mountains and Jeseníky Mountains ). The rivers, especially the March and the Oder, overflowed their banks. Within a very short time on July 10th, large parts of southern Poland and the Czech Republic were flooded and thousands of people were homeless. The Polish city of Opole (Oppeln) was evacuated.

On July 8th, the Brandenburg State Environment Agency issued a flood warning for the border or section; On July 14th, the affected districts and the city of Frankfurt (Oder) alert level I were declared. The flood reached Brandenburg on July 17th near Ratzdorf , at the confluence of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers . At 6.20 meters, the level was almost 3.50 meters above the long-term summer values. As a precaution, the lowest dyke sections have been increased. A second flood wave, caused by renewed heavy rains, took place from July 18th to 21st in the upper Oder catchment area. Dikes were softened; the water pressure was six tons per square meter. At the Oder-Spree Canal in Eisenhüttenstadt the dike top cracked. Safety measures with sandbags and fascines prevented the dike from breaking.

In the Ziltendorf lowlands , the first evacuations began on July 22nd in the Ziltendorf districts of Aurith and the Ernst-Thälmann-Siedlung . The Federal Armed Forces, the Federal Border Guard and the Technical Relief Organization tried to stabilize the fragile and soaked dikes in the region. In Oderbruch was cattle brought to safety. The dike at Brieskow-Finkenheerd broke on July 23 at a width of initially 70 meters, later to 200 meters due to the high flow speed due to the height difference between the Oder and the Ziltendorfer lowlands. On July 24th the dike broke at Aurith about 9 kilometers further. Thus, the flooding of the 5,500 hectare Ziltendorfer lowland could no longer be stopped. The Bundeswehr meanwhile had 8,300 soldiers under the leadership of Brigadier General Klaus Wittig and 36 helicopters, numerous trucks, pioneer tanks and boats on the dike fortification and evacuation.

In the northern Oderbruch near Hohenwutzen , the evacuation of 6,500 people was ordered as a precaution. The animals from the Oderbruchzoo Altreetz were also transported away. On July 25, parts of the dyke slipped over a length of 150 meters at dike kilometer 70.4 near Neuglietzen. Holes up to seven meters deep and up to 25 meters wide gaped on the land side in the dike. Bundeswehr helicopters loaded with sandbags were put on the dike by Bundeswehr officer Jan Uwe Kestner at risk of death and filled the holes. In July 2007, Kestner was awarded the Brandenburg Order of Merit for this. Continuously brought helicopters thousands of sandbags piling up the soldiers in the breaking point. The dike was covered with foil from the water side by divers, so that it could finally be held.

On July 27, the water level reached a record 6.56 meters in Frankfurt (Oder). On July 28th, Tornado fighter planes took off for the first time to provide optical reconnaissance over the flood area. On July 29, a critical crack (0.5 m wide, 50 m long) was successfully built in the dike berme at Reitwein , dike km 4.8 and 5.2 . Bundeswehr helicopters were also used to transport sandbags. The Bundeswehr mission group meanwhile comprises 9,000 soldiers under the leadership of Major General Hans-Peter von Kirchbach .

In view of the life-threatening situation for 20,000 inhabitants of the Oderbruch, the crisis team in Bad Freienwalde (Oder) made preparations for evacuation. Around 8,000 people in the Oderbruch had left their homes by August 1st. On the night of August 1, 1997, the construction of a protective dam near Reitwein began. In the first few hours, around 80 trucks from the road construction administration were used to build the transverse dike. The construction of the emergency dike was ended prematurely and was dismantled the following year. In the vernacular , the protective dam got the name Meyerdamm in allusion to the then Brandenburg Minister of Construction Hartmut Meyer . On August 2nd, there was no longer any acute danger of dyke breakage, but the endangered dyke sections remained under control. The water levels only fell on August 10th, as the river bed of the Oder has a slight gradient and the water from the tributaries came up. The Bundeswehr has a total of 30,000 soldiers in action, the actual strength on site was most recently 15,000 soldiers with 40 helicopters and 3,000 wheeled vehicles, of which 2,500 were trucks.

The vast polder areas in the lower Oder valley - both on the German and the Polish side - which were flooded in the summer of 1997 due to the flood, prevented worse things from happening. In the event of a dike breach near Hohenwutzen, not only the Oderbruch would have been affected. The water would also have spread via the Hohensaaten-Friedrichsthaler waterway into the flat peripheral areas of the Lower Oder Valley. This would have hit the city of Schwedt / Oder , which is directly connected to this canal via an old branch of the Oder , hard. Large parts of the city center would have been flooded to the edge of the upper valley sand terraces.

After the flood situation in Polish Słubice deteriorated considerably for the population, an aid group of the DRK was seconded to Słubice for international aid measures. This group distributed relief supplies (food and material donations) from Germany to the evacuated people and provided first aid in the event of injuries.

Water levels

Along the Oder, up to the mouth of the Warta near Küstrin , water levels have never been measured before. In 1998, the Brandenburg State Environment Agency compiled and published the highest water levels.

Max. Water level
in cm
Czech RepublicCzech Republic Bohumín 660 07/08/1997
PolandPoland Racibórz Miedonia 55.5 1045 07/09/1997
PolandPoland Ujście Nysy 180.5 768 07/10/1997
PolandPoland Rędzin 261.1 1030 07/13/1997
PolandPoland Brzeg Dolny 284.7 1070 July 13-14, 1997
PolandPoland Malczyce 304.8 892 July 14-15, 1997
PolandPoland Ścinawa 331.9 732 07/15/1997
PolandPoland Głogów 392.9 712 07/16/1997
PolandPoland Nowa Sól 429.8 681 07/16/1997
PolandPoland Cigacice 471.3 682 07/19/1997
PolandPoland Połęcko 530.3 595 07/24/1997
GermanyGermany Ratzdorf 542.5 691 07/24/1997
GermanyGermany Eisenhüttenstadt 554.1 717 07/24/1997
GermanyGermany Frankfurt (Oder) 584.0 656 07/27/1997
PolandPoland Slubice 584.1 637 07/27/1997
GermanyGermany Kietz 614.8 653 July 27-28, 1997
GermanyGermany Kienitz 633.0 628 07/24/1997
PolandPoland Gozdowice 645.3 659 July 31 - August 1, 1997
GermanyGermany Hohensaaten-Finow 664.9 729 07/31/1997
GermanyGermany Hohensaaten
Ostschleuse OP (Oderseite)
667.2 805 07/31/1997
PolandPoland Bielinek 673.5 712 July 31 - August 1, 1997
GermanyGermany Support kow 680.5 1009 07/29/1997
GermanyGermany Schwedt Oder Bridge 690.6 886 08/02/1997
GermanyGermany Schwedt
Schleuse OP (Oderseite)
697.0 840 01-02.08.1997
PolandPoland Widuchowa 701.8 760 August 2nd - 3rd, 1997
GermanyGermany Gartz (Or) 8.0 698 01-02.08.1997
GermanyGermany Mescherin 14.1 672 08/03/1997
PolandPoland Gryfino 718.5 649 08/03/1997
GermanyGermany Ückermünde Oderhaff 536 08/06/1997
  1. ↑ The level zero point was reduced by one meter after 1998, therefore the value is now increased by 100 cm compared to the measurements from 1997.
  2. ditto
  3. The water level was subsequently corrected in the hydrological yearbook from 657 to 656.
  4. The level in the Hohensaaten connecting canal is 92.9 km. But it shows the water level of the Oder at the indicated km 667.2.
  5. The level in the Schwedter Querfahrt is at km 0.4. But it shows the water level of the Oder at the indicated km 697.0.
  6. The level is on the Westoder at km 8.0. Kilometer zero of the Westoder is roughly at the Widuchowa gauge .
  7. The water level is on the Westoder at km 14.1. Kilometer zero of the Westoder is roughly at the Widuchowa gauge .

Damage balance

In the Czech Republic, 20 people died as a result of the Oder flood. In the Czech Oder region, 202 municipalities were affected by the floods. Over 500 houses were destroyed and 5,500 houses damaged. Flood damage occurred on 500 km of roads and 100 km of railway lines. The Bruntál district in the catchment areas of Opava and Opavice was hit hardest by far. The total damage for the Czech Republic was given as the equivalent of 470 million euros.

54 people were killed in Poland. 47,000 buildings were hit by the flood and 106,000 people had to be evacuated. 465,000 hectares of agricultural land were flooded. 25 km of dykes were destroyed, 467 km were in need of repair or renovation. Furthermore, 2000 km of roads and railway lines, 1700 bridges and traffic passages, 261 hospitals and other health care facilities, 937 schools and day-care centers, 33 scientific institutions, 852 monuments, cultural and sporting objects as well as 120 km of water supply network and 300 drinking water withdrawal points were damaged or destroyed by the flood . Fountain. About 70 sewage treatment plants and 7 landfills were flooded. In total, the damage to Poland amounted to the equivalent of 2.38 billion euros.

In Germany, the largest part of the total damage resulted from the flooding of the Ziltendorfer lowlands (approx. 5000 ha), from which 2000 people were evacuated. In the Oderbruch, 8,000 residents had to temporarily leave their homes. The cost of flood defense amounted to the equivalent of over 132 million euros. The dike damage was estimated at around 78 million euros. A total of 575 cases of damage to private buildings and ancillary buildings were recorded, which were put at 13.9 million euros. The damage to public buildings amounted to 1.9 million euros. The municipal, state and federal transport routes suffered damage of more than 66 million euros. The damage to the economy (including agriculture, excluding inland shipping) amounted to almost 30 million euros. The federal waterways of the Oder were closed to shipping in the second half of July until mid-August. Inland boatmen and port operators suffered a loss in turnover of 1.2 million euros. In the overall balance, the 1997 flood of the Oder in Germany resulted in damage of the equivalent of more than 331 million euros.


On August 9, the evacuated residents of the Oderbruch returned gradually to their villages; the border crossings to Poland were reopened.

While the Federal Armed Forces, together with the THW and the local fire brigades, started the clean-up work, the Brandenburg State Environment Agency began to prepare the reconstruction of the destroyed dike sections. Construction work began on twelve dyke construction projects in September 1997. Difficulties arose from the subsurface conditions of the softened dykes and munitions finds from the Second World War . The last repair work was completed at the end of November 1997.

Rescue workers and material

Oder flood 1997

Under the direction of General Hans-Peter von Kirchbach , over 30,000 soldiers were involved in combating the flood and its effects between July 18 and October 10. This was the Bundeswehr's largest disaster mission to date. More than 8 million sandbags were filled with approx. 177,000 tons of sand and gravel from the THW , the Federal Border Police , fire brigades , civil aid organizations and the population. The Bundeswehr was in action with more than 3,000 vehicles and special machines. 50 Bundeswehr helicopters carried around 2,000 people and around 3,500 tons of material in over 2,700 flight hours.

The state of Brandenburg and the federal government responded with emergency aid programs. After the flood, the population started a fundraising campaign. The total of the donations amounted to more than 50 million euros.

Reception and late effects

Postage stamp from 1997 with a 90 pfennig surcharge in aid of the Brandenburg flood relief aid
Oderflut Medal

All German sympathy

There was intensive media coverage of the 1997 flood of the Oder with the threat of the Oderbruch. The events were followed with great sympathy among the entire German population. The fight against the flood was classified and accepted as a national task. Although the German unification was formally completed in 1990, the unification-related burdens gave rise to considerable emotional obstacles and reservations. The flood and the efforts to secure the Oderbruch contributed to the emotional merging of the two parts of the country. In particular, the deployment of the Bundeswehr was honored in East Germany. The flood triggered a nationwide willingness to donate - especially for the German victims. The then Brandenburg Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Regional Planning, " Deichgraf " Matthias Platzeck , became known nationwide through his work as a crisis manager .

Oderflut Medal

In recognition of the help and thanks to the helpers during the flood disaster operation, the Prime Minister of Brandenburg donated the Oder flood medal and was first presented by Manfred Stolpe during a ceremony on September 20, 1997. The Oderflut Medal of the State of Brandenburg is available for people wearing uniforms and for civilians. “The Oderflut medal bears the Brandenburg eagle with the lettering Land Brandenburg on its front, as well as a reference to the event and a thank you; the affected region is symbolically represented on the back. It is worn on a red and white ribbon on the upper left side of the chest. ”(From the Prime Minister's decree on the Oderflut medal).

Dike construction

Based on the experience gained in 1997, planning processes for the fundamental new construction of critical dyke sections of the Oder dyke were initiated in several places. The dike line, the dike profile and the dike height were changed. Problems arose with the procurement of the land and with the compensation of the residents. These new construction measures took place between 1998 and 2005.

See also


  • The summer flood on the Oder in 1997 . In: Studies and conference reports of the Brandenburg State Environment Agency, Volume 16, Potsdam 1998. ISSN  0948-0838
  • Hartmut Niesche, Frank Krüger: The Oder flood 1997 - course, dike damage and dike defense. Brandenburg geoscientific contributions. Vol. 5, No. 1, LBGR , 1998, pp. 15-22 ( PDF ).
  • Eberhard Schmidt , Barbara Stein: 10 years later - Measures to improve flood forecasting after the Oder flood in 1997 . In: Environmental data from Brandenburg . Potsdam 2007, DNB  022833552 , p. 77-80 .

Web links

Commons : Oderhochwasser 1997  - Collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. International Commission for the Protection of the Oder against Pollution (1999): Oder catchment area: Das Hochwasser 1997, Wrocław, p. 55 ( [1] )
  2. The helicopters flew again . In: Märkische Oderzeitung . July 29, 2007.
  3. New cracks are constantly endangering the dikes on the Oder . In: Berliner Zeitung . 2nd August 1997.
  4. According to a statement by the Eberswalde Waterways and Shipping Office on August 2, 2007, the first value given in 1997 was 657 cm. This value later had to be corrected to 656 due to measurement adjustments to a main leveling
  5. flood protection on the Oder; Future of the Reitweiner Notdeich . (PDF; 45.5 kB) Landtag Brandenburg, wording of the Minor Question 1468 of September 8, 1997.
  6. ^ The summer floods on the Oder 1997 (PDF; 6.9 MB) Studies and conference reports by the Brandenburg State Environment Agency, Vol. 16, Potsdam 1998.
  7. Undine information platform: Flood events in the Oder region: The 1997 summer flood. Accessed on April 27, 2019 .
  8. Decree of the Prime Minister on the Oder flood medal ( Memento from September 10, 2012 in the web archive archive.today )
  9. Oderdeich will be completely renovated by November . In: Märkische Oderzeitung . April 23, 2005.