Lake Toplitz (Toplitzsee)

Lake Toplitz (Toplitzsee)


Location: 98 km (61 mi) from Salzburg  Map


Description of Lake Toplitz

Lake Toplitz is a beautiful lake in the Austrian Alps, situated 98 km (61 mi) East from Salzburg in the central Austria. Toplitz Lake is a pristine lake is surrounded by Totes Gebirge or Dead Mountains in German of the Austrian Alps. Unique feature of the lake is its low concentration of oxygen below 20 m below water surface. Lack of oxygen preserves everything falls into its murky dark water for decades. However it doesn't mean that the lake is completely barren. Several species of animals can survive in a water devoid of oxygen. In 1983 scientists discovered 23 cm long Toplitzsee worm (Lumbricus Polyphemus) was discovered at a depth of 60 meters. Toplitz Lake is fed by the two waterfalls as well as an underground inflow from the Kammersee lake.


There are not many hiking trails around the Toplitz Lake. The best way to explore its shores is my renting a private boats of the local residents or taking boats of a shipping company "Platten".


Lake Toplitz and the Nazis


Lake Topitz became famous during World War II when it was used by the German Nazis scientists as a secret military laboratory for experimental weapons testing ground between 1943 and 1944. Lake Toplitz shores were secluded from major settlements so the Germans chose this lake. Explosion that were carried out here were not heard by anyone. Scientists dropped torpedoes, bombs and other weapons to see their effectiveness that could be used in the course of war on sea. Kriegsmarine or German Navy was a major sponsor in these experiments. Many of the explosives are still resting on the lake bottom. Local often call Lake Toplitz Devil's Warehouse or Demon's Hole as a reference to possible 4 tons of unexploded explosive on bottom.


In a strange act of fact Lake Toplitz also became the last resting place for fake 130 millions British pounds that the Nazis printed in hopes to crumble British economy during World War II. Originally the money were printed in Germany in various concentration camps across the country using slave labor of Germans and Jews alike. It became known as Operation Bernhard. Toward the end of the war concentration camps were relocated south to Austria. In the process of transport of millions of fake banknotes soldiers and prisoners were attacked by Allied planes. Germans soldiers decided to lighten the load and get rid of the evidence. They dumped millions of fake bank notes into Lake Toplitz. It took them whole two days to accomplish this task. After the war Lake Toplitz was explored by divers. They discovered sunken aircraft, part of sunken explosives and several chests of fake bank notes. Due to lack of oxygen beyond certain point currency were not destroyed despite of decades spent under water.