Möhne Reservoir

Möhne Reservoir

The dam of the reservoir
Coordinates 51°29′00″N 8°04′18″E / 51.48333°N 8.07167°E / 51.48333; 8.07167Coordinates: 51°29′00″N 8°04′18″E / 51.48333°N 8.07167°E / 51.48333; 8.07167
Type artificial lake
Primary inflows Möhne, Heve
Primary outflows Möhne
Catchment area 432 km²
Basin countries Germany
Surface area 1,067 ha
Water volume 135 mio 

The Möhne Reservoir—or Moehne Reservoir—is an artificial lake in North Rhine-Westphalia, some 45 km east of Dortmund, Germany. The lake is formed by the damming of two rivers, Möhne and Heve, and with its four basins stores as much as 135 million cubic metres of water.


Construction and inauguration

Calculations of the future demand for water for the people and industry in the growing Ruhr-area in 1904 had revealed that the existing dams in the river system of the Ruhr with a storage volume of 32.4  million m³ would require the triple amount. Thus was generated by the general assembly of the Ruhrtalsperreverein on November 28, 1904 an amendment to the construction of their own dams. The Möhnetalsperre was then in 1908 to 1913 built at a cost of 23.5  million marks. In the opening the dam was the largest dam in Europe. 140  homesteads with 700  people had to move. It was built to help control floods, regulate water levels on the Ruhr river downstream, and generate hydropower. Today, the lake is also a tourist attraction.

The breached Möhne Dam after the bombing
The dam in overflow

Second World War

The dam (51°29′22″N 8°03′32″E / 51.489307°N 8.058772°E / 51.489307; 8.058772) was breached by RAF Lancaster Bombers (“The Dambusters”) during Operation Chastise on the night of 16–17 May 1943, together with the Edersee dam in northern Hesse. Bouncing bombs had been constructed which were able to skip over the protective nets that hung in the water. A huge hole of 77 m by 22 m was blown into the dam. The resulting huge floodwave killed at least 1,579 people,[1] 1,026 of them foreign forced labourers held in camps downriver. The small city of Neheim-Hüsten was particularly hard-hit with over 800 victims, among them at least 526 victims in a camp for Russian women held for forced labour.

Results of the bombing

Kanzelbrücke at the beginning of the reservoir

Though the Organisation Todt quickly repaired the dams with forced labourers commandeered from the construction of the Atlantic Wall, the impact of the raid on German industry in the Ruhr valley and indeed on the civil population was significant. In the Möhne and Ruhr valleys, 11 factories were destroyed, 114 seriously damaged, 25 road and rail bridges were destroyed and throughout the region power, water and gas supplies were seriously disrupted. Industry production was back at normal level by September, however.

Further reading

See also


  1. Article of Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (German)
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