This place is full of beauty and history and the mountains really made me feel at home (although I'm not technically from the mountains, I hope to be a mountain resident someday). However, the night-life here is pretty much non-existent, or afternoon-life for that matter. Once the clock hit three in the afternoon, the place was deserted. But it was nice to bond with my studio classmates over late night games of Werewolf (similar to Mafia) and ouzo from the local Greek restaurant.
To start, I'll give a little background on Eder Dam. In the 1930's, this area consisted of sporadic small villages and a well-known oven-factory. Yes, a factory that produced ovens (the things we take for granted..). In WWII, this dam as well as two others in the area were marked as hit spots in order to destroy German industry. It was hit by the British on May 17, 1943.
From the American movie "The Dam Busters" (1955)
At the time, Nazis forbid anyone to take photographs or video footage of war destruction in fear that German population would know they were losing the war, but some were taken in secret and not released for 30 years! One particular story involved a local man making a deal with a video-camera mechanic, to not release the personal footage until he passed away.
The foundations of houses destroyed during the dam break
A village graveyard washed up from the floods
The dam break was devastating for the surrounding villages, and many homes and shops were destroyed. Those families that survived were forced to relocate to higher ground or away from the area completely, although there was no news of this tragedy among German media.
The area with no set of lower tunnels was where the dam was bombed and reconstructed.
My class was lucky enough to get a tour inside the dam from local water authorities. And damn (pun intended), it was freaking cold in there. Don't let the sunny pictures fool you, it was around 5 degrees Celsius (around 40 F to my fellow Americans) and inside the dam was at least 10 degrees (F) colder from the water and whole no-natural-sunlight thing.
Anyway, learning all this history from locals themselves really spooked me, considering all their families have been through. They had to live with the consequences of the bombing in complete anonymity.
However, despite the creepy history, this place is crazy beautiful.
This is the site for my project: a topographically challenging hillside, where I'll be designing a museum to commemorate the area's rich history as well as celebrate the energy-creating power of dams. Director Peter Jackson is said to be currently working on a remake of the 1955 film Dam Busters, and this museum in part with that could potentially open up international interest in this forgotten area that received so little attention in its time of devastation. Can't wait to show progress along the way this semester!