03 July 2013

1956 - War against the Danube

The Hungarian People’s Army takes the main role in this half propaganda documentary film made in 1956 about the last ice flood in Hungary. The main characters are not the tommies filling sandbags on the levee, but real weapons. In this case “fighting the flood” means literally fighting. A bomb squad is laying mines on the ice beneath the Kossuth Bridge in Budapest, mortar men near the Yugoslavian border are bombing the accumulated ice shield. And since this is far from enough, also bombers of the Hungarian air force attacks the frozen river. This is like a mimic warfare in the Cold War era with real causalities. They say the lock near Tass was not damaged by the ice, but more likely it was destroyed by bombs.

The 1956 icy flood went down on the Danube until Dunaföldvár without any problem. Here the ice stuck and soon a high ice barrier evolved. This wasn’t the only one, a little further down another bar evolved from stuck ice-float near Bogyiszló. The high water was caught near Dunaföldvár, with stilted dykes, but near Bogyiszló the water broke the levee and the Danube flooded the nearby croplands and villages. The stuck ice of Dunaföldvár started to flow because of the rising power of the accumulated water. This vast amount of water and ice smashed against the Bogyiszló ice barrier, which was still solid and frozen that time.

The lock near Tass, destroyed in 1956.
The devastation was beyond all imagination. The Danube breached the dykes in all directions, on the right banks towards the Transdanubian lowlands and the left bank towards Kalocsa. The flood running through the Gemenc forest was once more stuck near Dunaszekcső, so the dykes defending the Mohács Island were also ruined on 14 different spots.
Dyke crashes in southern Hungary during the ice flood 1956.

The 1956 ice flood caused 58 dike crashes, 740 square kilometers were flooded, from 39 settlements over 57000 person were evacuated. Was this due to the completely new flood control approach, I really do not know…

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