Warnings were issued across Europe this weekend as crowds gathered on thawing lakes at popular skating spots. Local authorities in Northern Germany and the Netherlands had told revellers that unauthorised parties risked injury from breaking ice sheets and Covid-19 transmission.
On Sunday fun-seekers had already been told they were 'on thin ice'.
However, police in Berlin were criticised for their heavy handed response when the city's Landpolizei arrived to break up gatherings using a police helicopter - a decision condemned as "reckless" and "irresponsible".
Reports by national magazine Bild said as many as 2500 people arrived on Berlin's Landwehr Canal for a "Techo Rave", on Sunday.
As the skating festival got going a blizzard of ice and noise descended on the revellers.
"It was like Apocalypse Now!" said one attendee.
Berlin Police said that the helicopter had been used with a PA system to tell skaters to "get off the ice", and the ice was "too dangerous". There was no comment regarding the safety of their own actions.
A spokesperson for the city police confirmed it was dispatched to clear the public from the ice, saying neither the police or fire department had given safety approval for the ice gathering.
"We are currently active with all kinds of vehicles – on land, on water and in the air," she told the Berliner Zeitung.
Social media was full of condemnation for what was seen as a massive overreaction by police"bringing a gunship to a snowball fight."
"There were small children in the middle of that storm of snow and ice chips. Most didn't even know the police wanted them off before this turned up," said Berlin-based IT worker Eoghan Sweeny, who witnessed the incident.
"I think the police got it wrong this time."
Jagoda Marinic, a writer for the Suddeutsche Zeitung and New York Times wrote a scathing response to the priorities of Berlin's officials.
"Germany isn't able to organise vaccines," she wrote to twitter "But police helicopters to hunt down kids playing on frozen lakes were not a problem."
Families and children were caught up in the incident. According to the Berliner Zeitung a father pushing the stroller of his one-year-old son fell broke through the ice. They both were air lifted to hospital.
City police, fire department and Germany's lifeguard society had warned the public against stepping on the ice. A spokesperson defended the use of helicopters, saying that loudhailers from patrol cars cannot be heard out on the Schlachtensee and canals.