Beautiful Elbe, cruel Elbe

NDR/ Studio Hamburg - 2003


Summer of 2002: a flood wave ravages northward - destructive, unstoppable. Houses and streets, man and animal suffer under the masses of water. How could this catastrophe happen? The film takes stock: At first sight the Elbe is a river that has preserved much of its pristine beauty. In the shadow of the Wall, it was spared any dams. During its journey over a distance of 600 kilometres - from the Elbe-Sandstone-Mountains to the North Sea - the river passes through unique landscapes in six federal states.

Deeply cut into the mountains it meanders through sandstone slopes and then travels across the largest lowland forests in Europe situated in the nature reserve 'River Land-scape Central Elbe' - a paradise for beavers, black stork, sea eagle and king-fisher. However, this idyll is jeopardised. Plans to construct dams and to deepen the river are already being discussed. These measures are to enable large-size ships to travel this waterway throughout the year, which is normally not possible during the dry summer months. In many regions, an enlargement of the Elbe would set an end to lowland forests, beaver and black stork.