Anadolu Agency – Andrzej Kobuszewski wanders over a bridge from one side of his sleepy town to the other. The fish have now gone, he says with a smile. The sun beats down on the bucolic scene, as if from a dreamy 19th century watercolor.
Clutching his beer bottle empties to his chest, Andrzej says the dead fish just floated into town one day.
“They just appeared, as if from nowhere, like an omen,” he says. “Then they left.”
The authorities in the Polish town of Krosno Odrzanskie, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the German border, apparently came in early one morning and cleared the masses of rotting fish away.
“They probably burned it,” Andrzej says.
The search for Poland’s dead fish is clearly not going to be as simple as we had expected, 51 kilometers downstream through a landscape sprinkled with farm animals and Prussian churches, forests and swampland to the Polish border town of Slubice, where a bridge separates EU neighbors Poland and Germany.
On the Polish side of the border overlooking the river, there are no fish to be seen. In fact, there is not much water in the river, the drought taking its toll.
The radio says that parts of the river are already cleared of dead fish.
I ask the local pizza parlor what happened to all the dead fish. “Is that a new restaurant?” she laughs. But I am not sure she is joking.
On the Frankfurt-on-Oder side of the bridge, German police sit in a baking hot police van. “We heard about some fish, but we don’t know much about it,” one of them says when asked.
“You’d better ask the Polish side.”