Although "Elster" is German for "magpie", the origin of the name has nothing to do with the bird. It is of Slavic origin: alstrawa = hurrying. The White Elster never meets the Black Elster, which flows from Lusatia into the River Elbe. The rivers have the names "white" and "black" to distinguish between them.
The White Elster proved disastrous to the French troops when they retreated from Leipzig in October 1813, as a part of the Napoleonic Wars.Józef Poniatowski, Marshal of France, drowned in the river on 19 October 1813.
Source of the White Elster in the westernmost part of the Czech Republic, near Aš