Spanning the Eder River in northern Hesse, the Edersee Dam was constructed between 1908 and 1914 near the small town of Waldeck. It was breached by Allied bombs during World War II in an event that was portrayed in the 1955 film, “The Dam Busters”. Unlike the Mohne Dam that had anti-torpedo nets and anti-aircraft guns installed, the Edersee Dam had little defense as the Germans believed it impossible to penetrate.
British Lancaster bombers were responsible for what was dubbed Operation Chastise, which took place during the early morning hours of 17 May 1943. Bouncing bombs were dropped to breach the dam, with water emptying into the narrow valley below at a rate of 8,000 cubic meters per second. It led to wide-spread destruction in the floodplains of the lower Eder and the death of around 70 people.
The dam was rebuilt shortly after using forced labor under the Third Reich’s mil-itary engineering group, Organisation Todt. It is used to generate hydroelectric power for the surrounding region, as well as regulating water levels for shipping on the River Weser.
Lake Edersee is protected within the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, with its surrounding ancient beech forests having been recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a popular destination for walking, cycling and a range of water sports, including windsurfing and sailing. Follow the picturesque Eder Cycle route, cast a fishing line to see what’s biting or explore the valley glades and meandering streams that are surrounded by mountain elm, ancient oaks and orchid-filled meadows.