Winter of the century 1978/1979 – the greatest snow chaos after the war


Berlin – Cars snowed in with their passengers, trains derailed, people froze to death in their homes.

Snow shock in the winter of the century 1978/1979: Within hours the country cooled down to 27 degrees below zero! The snow piled meters high through drifts. Railways and ships could no longer get through.



A Bundeswehr armored recovery vehicle helps clear snow at a petrol station in NeumünsterPhoto: picture-alliance / Dieter Klar

Around 150 villages were cut off from the outside world and 22 people died. In the GDR, the power supply collapsed at times, and there was even a threat of famine.

The Bundeswehr cleared the highways with armored recovery vehicles. 70 pregnant women were flown to clinics in helicopters and gave birth to “heli-babies”.


German Army pilot Dieter Roeder flew his missions with this helicopter

Bundeswehr pilot Dieter Roeder flew his missions with this helicopterPhoto: private

One of the heroic pilots at the time was Dieter Roeder (72). He was in action for Army Aviation Squadron 6 at the “Hungry Wolf” location (Steinburg district).


Former Bundeswehr pilot Dieter Roeder today

Former Bundeswehr pilot Dieter Roeder todayPhoto: private

In BILD he remembers: “I often didn’t know where to go down!” He then radioed: “Put an official flag in the snow!”

In this winter of the century, damage totaled around 150 million Deutschmarks.

★★★

I was locked on a farm for a week


Melf Melfsen (66)

Melf Melfsen (66)Photo: private

Flensburg – Farmer Melf Melfsen (66) cooled the milk of his cows in the two meter high snow!

In 1978, the then 23-year-old was trapped with his wife for a week on his farm in Langenhorn (Schleswig-Holstein) – from the masses of snow brought by the white giant.


The dairy farmer in a tractor on his snow-covered farm.  At that time there was hardly any getting through

The dairy farmer in a tractor on his snow-covered farm. At that time there was hardly any getting throughPhoto: private

Melf Melfsen: “Because the milk truck couldn’t get through, my father and I dug hollows in the snow. Then we built tanks out of silo foil to protect the milk from spoiling. Worked.”

His greatest fear at the time was that the power would fail. He remembers: “That happened, but luckily only for a few hours.

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