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History of Danube-Oder-Elbe waterway - The D-O-E waterway and Greater German Reich PDF Print E-mail
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The D-O-E waterway and Greater German Reich

In the end, the strongest political efforts for realization of the project had to come from the outside, i.e. from Germany: after the “Anschlus” of Austria in March 1938, the Reich waterway network integration was its life priority. Due to serious political crisis in Czechoslovakia (the Munich Agreement in September 1939, autonomy of Slovakia and establishment of labile Czecho-Slovakia one month later) the Czech side was under an intense German pressure. Eventually it led to the German-Czech-Slovak Protocol, signed on November 1938, which treated the manner of realization of the Oder–Danube Canal and its Elbe branch. The first meeting of the Committee for Construction and Operation of the Danube–Oder Canal took place as early as on November 20, 1938. Within the preparation procedures a new project of the waterway was drawn. The construction was estimated to last 6 years, the costs were to reach 500 mill. RM. To overcome the rise there were 27 double locks proposed of the dimensions 225 x 12 ms. Later, when canal lifts were inserted, the number of locks and lifts between the Danube and the Oder came down to 16–19. However, the high canal lifts forced the route of the canal through some rather demanding terrain.  

Na gliwický kanál dokončený v roce 1939 navázala stavba průplavu Dunaj-Odra.

On Gliwice canal, completed in 1939, followed construction of the Danube-Oder canal.

The bottom width of the canal was to spread to 32 ms, the surface width to 45 ms, the depth of some sections was reaching 4 ms; the design took already into account vessels carrying 1,000 tons. The German side insisted on the original routing branching off the Danube at Vienna. The adopted protocol created a kind of a paradox situation: Czechoslovakia was forced by a hostile country to carry out a project, which was crucial for development of the local transport infrastructure in Czechoslovakia, and which the local irresolute politicians had been postponing.

Místo slavnostího výkopu dnes. Na Gliwický kanál navazuje 6 km dlouhý úsek průplavu Dunaj-Odra.

The place of grounbreaking ceremony for the Oder-Danube Canal on December 8, 1939 near Nowa Wieś close to Kędzierzyn. From  south to north is Gliwice canal with a wide mouth of a 6-km stretch of Oder-Danube Canal on left - a branch canal for the chemical factory in Kędzierzyn.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Oder–Danube Canal took place on the eve of the second war: on December 8, 1939 near Kędzierzyn in the contemporary Poland. However, the works proceeded only very slowly forward as the final plans of the canal routing had not been finished yet. The works commenced even at the other end of the waterway at Vienna. The 6-km channel, which was then excavated, is today used for recreation. As an advance, the area got even the port in Lobau, which is use today as a refinery with operation of river tankers.  

Přístav Lobau ve Vídni a ústí průplavu Dunaj-Odra do Dunaje

Port Lobau in Vienna and the mouth of the Danube-Oder Canal into the Danube.

Vybudované úseky průplavu Dunaj-Odra jsou využívány k rekreaci. 

Built sections of the canal Danube-Oder are used for recreation.

Nevertheless, the war prevented completion of some larger integrated part of the interconnection. In 1942, almost all larger water management construction works ceased and only construction and maintenance works pursuing important public interests and protecting traffic on the navigable rivers were allowed to continue. Finally, in 1943, even the geological research, geodesy, and design works were suspended as well. The war naturally set back the continuous construction of the access section of the canal between Mělník and Pardubice; although the construction of the last lock and dam below Kolín at Velký Osek was actually launched, it was later discontinued. The only lock and dam was completed at Hradištko. Thus, as of 1944, regular running navigation could be operated all the way to Kolín.