Gernot Preschel doesn't really know what to do.

Except to document everything.

"It's also a form of helplessness," he says.

"You're powerless in the face of it." In front of Preschel is the Oder, he's holding a camera in his hand.

The flow looks normal at first glance.

Here in the small town of Lebus, just a few kilometers above Frankfurt (Oder), you can usually go straight off the street into the water.

But nothing has been normal on and in the Oder for a few days.

Kim Maurus


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The small bay looks like a dirty pond because of the low water.

Preschel photographs a few dead fish that are still lying there, large, with white bellies.

One is completely tattered, its scales strewn across the sand.

Light-colored mussel flesh swims on the water surface, the empty mussel shells lie on the shore.

The environmental catastrophe on the Oder stretches along a river of about 500 kilometers.

Preschel, in his mid-fifties, came here after work; he actually works as an in-house technician for the wholesale trade.

He has been involved in the BUND district association in Frankfurt (Oder) for 30 years.

"This can't happen anymore within the EU," he says.

“This is a flow that should be subject to constant control.

I don't understand why you only react when the dead fish are swimming belly-up."

There are few things that are certain when it comes to this fish kill.

Anyway, it was plentiful.

According to BUND estimates, up to 100 tons of dead fish were taken from the Oder, local media even reported 300 tons on Tuesday.

It has also been proven that Polish authorities already had indications at the end of July that something was wrong with the Oder.

Dead fish were sighted near Breslau.

In the metropolitan area of ​​Frankfurt (Oder) the dead fish appeared in crowds on August 9th.

The day before, anglers had reported that the Oder stinks, says environmentalist Preschel.

According to the Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment, there are no indications of particularly high levels of heavy metals such as mercury in the new laboratory results from Tuesday.

The investigations into the nutrients are not yet complete and have not yet been completed, says spokesman Sebastian Arnold: "So far they have not allowed any indication of a single cause for the fish die-off in the Oder.

The data is continuously transmitted and evaluated.”

It seems strange to the people on the Oder that so far there is so little knowledge about which toxin it is supposed to be.

Ignorance feeds rumours.

"As if you wanted to cover something up," says the bus driver on the way back from Lebus to Frankfurt (Oder).

"The speculation is rampant," says a local resident who doesn't want to read his name in the newspaper.

"We just don't know what we're fighting against," says Preschel.

"And of course that's unsatisfactory." Fishing, swimming, drawing water: the city of Frankfurt (Oder) banned all of this for safety reasons by means of a general decree last Friday.

Gerd Giese from Frankfurt's civil protection department also shows little understanding: "With the current state of technology, not being able to determine what caused a living being to die or which pollutants are in which waters overwhelms my imagination." Mark Langhammer, local representative of the Technical Relief Agency, assumes this that the investigations are taking so long because the poison is unknown.

"You have to take into account that many substances are examined."