German exports plunged in August as increasing uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine and the timing of summer holidays combined to produce the largest drop in five years.

The Federal Statistical Office reported Thursday that August exports dropped 5.8 percent over July while imports dropped 1.3 percent in calendar and seasonally adjusted terms. The country's trade surplus narrowed to an unadjusted 14.1 billion euros ($17.83 billion).

The office says many states had late school holidays this year, contributing to the drop.

ING Economist Carsten Brzeski says the cooling of many export destinations combined with increased uncertainty about Ukraine "look like the main drivers of the slowdown."

With drops also in factory orders and production, he says "the economy seems to need a small miracle in September to avoid a recession."