Lake Toplitz

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Lake Toplitz
Location Salzkammergut
Coordinates 47°38′30″N 13°55′40″E / 47.64167°N 13.92778°E / 47.64167; 13.92778Coordinates: 47°38′30″N 13°55′40″E / 47.64167°N 13.92778°E / 47.64167; 13.92778
Primary outflows Toplitz (Austria)(de)
Basin countries Austria
Max. length 2 km
Max. width 400 m
Max. depth 103 m
Surface elevation 718 m

Lake Toplitz (German: Toplitzsee) is a lake situated in a dense mountain forest high up in the Austrian Alps, 98 km (61 mi) from Salzburg in western Austria. It is surrounded by cliffs and forests in the Salzkammergut lake district, within the Totes Gebirge (dead mountains). The Toplitzsee water contains no oxygen below a depth of 20 m. Fish can survive only in the top 18 m, as the water below 20 m is salty, although bacteria and worms that can live without oxygen have been found below 20 m.

In 1943 and 1944 the shore of Lake Toplitz served as a Nazi naval testing station. Using copper diaphragms, scientists experimented with different explosives, detonating up to 4,000 kg charges at various depths. They also fired torpedoes from a launching pad in the lake into the Tote Mountains, making vast holes in the canyon walls. Over £100 million of counterfeit pound sterling notes were dumped in the lake after Operation Bernhard, which was never fully put into action. There is speculation that there might be other valuables to be recovered from the bottom of the Toplitzsee. There is a layer of sunken logs floating half way to the bottom of the lake, making diving beyond it hazardous or impossible. Gerhard Zauner, one of the divers on the 1959 expedition, reports that he saw a sunken aircraft below this layer.[1]

The area is only accessible on foot, via a private mile-long track that serves the Fischerhütte (Fisherman's Hut) restaurant at the western end.[2]

Toplitzsee in fiction[edit]

Lake Toplitz is mentioned in the scene in the James Bond movie Goldfinger, where Bond receives the gold bar used to tempt Auric Goldfinger; the bar is said to have been part of a Nazi hoard that was recovered from the lake.

In the 1981 TV series Private Schulz Lake Toplitz serves as a location where 50 million forged British pounds are being dumped by the Nazis; the scene in question, however, was filmed at a reservoir in South Wales.

The novel The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes involves Nazi gold found in a lake in similar circumstances to Lake Toplitz (Finstersee). Lake Toplitz is mentioned throughout the book also.