Flooding of the Rhine and Elbe Rivers and North German and Dutch Coasts

In 1651, a series of floods killed as many as 15,000 people and led to widespread destruction. The first flood occurred between 3 and 10 January. A strong thaw, accompanied by heavy rain, set in after heavy snowfall. The water level of the Elbe, its tributaries, and the Rhine rose above their banks. Simultaneously, high water in the Danube, Neckar, and Main Rivers left a path of destruction.

On 22 February and 4–5 March, two further storm floods occurred (for a long time, both were considered part of St. Peter’s flood), which, following several dam breaks, devastated the north German coast and islands as well as parts of the Netherlands, including Amsterdam. In June, a new wave of flooding on the Rhine hit Cologne. Record high waters and floods were also recorded in Switzerland and France. The flooding led to new flood protection measures in the respective regions.

Further Readings: 
  • Fügner, Dieter. Hochwasserkatastrophen in Sachsen. Taucha: Tauchaer Verlag, 2002.
  • Tümmers, Horst Johannes. Der Rhein: Ein europäischer Fluss und seine Geschichte. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999.