Lake Toplitzsee is located in the Austrian Salzkammergut, the Austrian lake district. It is approximately 718 metres above sea level, approximately 1920 metres long and 388 metres wide, at its widest part. It is one of the deepest lakes in the region, extending down to a depth of 103 metres. The water temperature of the lake is abnormal. Its basic temperature is about 5.8 degrees Centigrade, which is about 1.8 degrees Centigrade warmer than other lakes of this type. The name Toplitzsee probably comes from the Czech word “Teplice” which means “Warm spring.”
From the middle of 1943, until the end of the war, the German Navy had established and operated a secret marine testing facility on the lake. The facility had been set up to test dynamite, explosives, underwater torpedoes, mines and rockets. Using a primitive device, the scientists had even succeeded in launching a rocket from under the surface of the lake.
As the end of the war in Europe drew to a close, orders were given that numerous items, including weapons, documents, and counterfeit money, were to be destroyed. Large quantities, of these items, were subsequently packed into wooden crates, and then placed into the dark murky waters of the lake.
Several hundred documents were destroyed in this way. Torpedoes and crates of ammunition were disposed of in a similar manner. Large quantities of counterfeit money, and the printing presses that produced the forged notes, were also deposited into the lake. Rumours began to spread regarding buried treasures, and hidden gold bullion.
Over the years following the War extensive searches have been carried out, but no gold bullion has ever been discovered.
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In August 2005 I stayed at Lake Grundlsee, a mile or two from Toplitz.
This is the background and the inspiration that led to my first novel “The Kammersee Affair”. It is a story of the search for hidden nazi gold, but it is much more than that. It is the story of two men, an American GI, and an SS Major. It is a story of murder, blackmail and revenge.
The story begins in the summer of 1955. Two college friends are at the lake.
The lake was flat and calm with barely a ripple. Its dark waters glistened, reflecting the moonlight as though it were a mirror. A myriad of stars shone brightly in a cloudless sky, their shimmering light dancing across the surface of the water. Around the perimeter of the lake were tall conifer trees. Slender, and majestic, they grew, stretching high into the air, competing with each other for the available natural light. Surrounding the lake were sandy, gravely, banks of earth, which extended down to the water’s edge. Beyond, the land gently rose up, the slope gradually growing steeper and steeper, climbing up high along the limestone face to the side of the mountain. In the moonlight the white limestone glowed eerily, contrasting with the blackness of the shadows of the trees.
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