“If you see me, cry”.
It is an inscription dating from 1616 that can be read on one of these now famous “hunger stones”, on the banks of the Elbe, in the town of Děčín (Czech Republic).
This striking image was relayed by the RTL Nieuws correspondent in the country, Olaf Koens, on 11 August.
Door de droogte in Europese rivieren komen er Hungersteine bovendrijven.
Macabere waarschuwingen van onze 15e eeuwse voorouders over hongersnood.
'Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine'https://t.co/kbo03caaZX pic.twitter.com/CMTcMvfQQp
— Olaf Koens (@obk) August 11, 2022
Stones, witnesses of history
These testimonies of history are revealed during major droughts, with the drop in the level of the rivers.
They are thus found in Germany and the Czech Republic, near the banks of the Rhine and the Elbe.
On these large stones, warning messages, which recall the difficulties that endogenous populations have suffered during the various droughts throughout history.
A study carried out by Czech scientists lists ten events ranging from 1417 to 1893. Since then, the inhabitants of the riverside have written down the date, as well as their initials, each time the water gives way to these witnesses of history.
The last time we could see these "hunger stones" in Europe was in 2018. But scientists believe that this year will be historic.
The European Drought Observatory notes that almost half of Europe is experiencing these extreme climatic conditions.
"This drought could be the worst in 500 years."
During an online press conference held on August 9, he said "We have not fully analyzed the event (the 2022 summer drought) because it is still ongoing, but according to my experience, I think it may be even more extreme than in 2018" explained Andrea Toreti, principal researcher at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission,
as reported by Euronews