Marsberg-Helminghausen (51.377974 | 8.72799)

Strength and power

Terrain at the foot of the dam wall, which rises here as a 36 m high quarry stone wall.

My father was a bricklayer. He mastered a technique of which he was very proud: he could mason quarry stones. The difficulty lies in the fact that each stone is different. The right place must be found for each one, with the right neighbors. No matter how crooked and angular the stones are, the wall must not only be stable, but should also become smooth. Not many people can do that. That's probably why he would have liked to work on the Diemelsee dam wall, had it been in his time. The stones for the dam wall, hardly weathering diabase, were quarried not far from the construction site. Ninety quarry stone masons were called from Italy and Serbia, and construction began in 1912. Due to the war and lack of money, it was not completed until 1924.

Das Wasser rauscht aus dem Überlauf der Diemelsee Staumauer

Since then, the "curved gravity wall" stands, 42 meters high, at the top of the crown almost 200 meters long. Over the years, the diabase has turned dark gray, the joints still light gray. The masonry has not only become stable, but also smooth. I stand at the foot of the wall, craning my neck to take in the entire height up to the sky, and think only one word: strength. I can literally feel the weight of the stones in front of me, but can only guess at the weight of 20 million cubic meters of water behind them. An unusual place of power that inspires me to make associations like this: The reservoir is actually practicing Asian martial arts. It builds up power, directs it and concentrates it on one point, such as the turbines, in order to have the most resounding effect possible. Aqua karate, so to speak.

The wall symbolizes both protection and danger. The more man intervenes in the power flow of the water, the higher the pressure becomes, the greater must be the care in the construction of the dam, the reliability of the materials and the art of the engineers. The wall must not bulge more than five centimeters, measured with high-precision lasers, or the alarm would sound.

Das Wasser aus dem Diemelseeüberlauf sprundelt vor einer Tür

During World War II, Allied bomber units attempted to destroy the dam. But the approach through the Diemeltal was difficult, and the dam remained unscathed. The apocalyptic plan of the Waffen-SS, who wanted to blow up the dam in the last days of the war in order to leave the approaching victors not only scorched earth but also flooded valleys, also failed at the last minute. Water as a weapon: Fortunate circumstances prevented its use.

It is thanks to them that I am able to sit at the foot of this artificial rock face and meditate on the flow of power; on the transformation of one energy into another, of water power into electricity; on the power of man to tame the forces of nature and his powerlessness when this goes wrong again; and finally on the fact that I should have told my father, the quarry stone mason, during his lifetime how proud I am of him.

Author: Michael Gleich

The wall symbolizes both protection and danger.

Michael Equal

You can reach the dam wall best from:

Start: Hiking parking lot Heringhausen-Strandbad.

Start Tourist-Information Diemelsee, cross the pier, pass the camping park Hohes Rad on the right, continue straight ahead (4 km) until you reach the district road Helminghausen, turn right towards the dam wall.

For further information please contact the Tourist-Information Diemelsee: Tel: 05633-91133, E-Mail: info@diemelsee.de

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