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Heimkehle


Useful Information

Image: solutional forms in the entrance region.
Location: A7 exit Seesen (Harz), B243 66km to Nordhausen, B80 16km to Berga, turn left towards Stolberg (north), between Uftrungen and Rottleberode, 9km south of Stolberg. Turn left on road 2km to the cave. Signposted. (30,Lf40)
Open: MAY to OCT daily 10-17.
NOV to APR daily 10-16.
Tours as needed, normally every hour, at last 5 persons.
[2003]
Fee:
Classification:  Karst cave,  gypsum cave, horizontal cave
Light: electric
Dimension: L=2,000m. GR: H=22m, L=65m, W=65m.
Guided tours: L=700m, D=45min, V=50,000/a [200?].
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: A.A. (k.J.): Informationen Karstlandschaft Südharz und Die Heimkehle, Karstmuseum Heimkehle. Hrsg: Rat des Bezirkes Halle (Deutsch - German)
W. Remus, M. Spilker, R. Zeising (1962): Die Heimkehle bei Uftrungen am Südharz, Hrsg.: Gesellschaft zur Verbreitung wissenschaftlicher Kenntnisse, Bezirk Halle, Bezirkssektion Geowissenschaften, Arbeitsgruppe Sangerhausen, Höhlenverwaltung "Heimkehle", Uftrungen (Deutsch - German)
Reinhard Völker (1981): Die Heimkehle, Mitt. Karstmus. Heimkehle 1:1-40, Uftrungen (Deutsch - German)
Reinhard Völker (1985): Die Erschliessung der Heimkehle, Mitt. Karstmus. Heimkehle 10:1-15, Uftrungen (Deutsch - German)
Address: Höhlenverwaltung Heimkehle, Postfach 61, 06548 Uftrungen, Tel: +49-34653-305.
Last update:$Date: 2013/04/25 22:58:00 $

History

cave lake Heimensee with the typical green colour.
 
1357first mentioned.
1649visited by the Prince of Anhalt.
1920developed by Theodor Wienrich with electric light and paths.
12-SEP-1920opened to the public.
1944a factory for the production of aircraft parts installed in the cave by the Nazis.
1946the entrances to the cave are blown by the allies.
1953cave developed again, new entrances built.
1954reopened to the public.
1979Karstmuseum founded.

Description

Image: green coloured Thyrasee (Thyra lake) with rubber boat.

The Heimkehle is one of two big gypsum cave in Germany, which are open to the public. It is located at the southern rim of the Harz mountains, in a narrow area runnning from east to west, where gypsum is found at the surface. Because of the high solubility of the gypsum, this area is heavily karstified. The caves are especially very spacious, which is rare in Germany. This two caves are definitely the most impressive caves in Germany concerning size. Also the gypsum karst develops very fast and so it is rather rare. Thats why this caves are rather exceptional even on a European basis.

Image: Großer Dom (Big Dome).

The Heimkehle is located around the ground water table, and so many chambers contain water. Once the cave was visited by boat, as most of the halls were filled with huge interconnected lakes. Today the face of the cave has changed, primarly because of human encroachment. The cave is visited by foot and not by boat.

The main lake was covered with concrete in 1944, when the Nazis built an underground factory here. At this time the allied air raids on Germany were intensified and a part of the production was moved undergound. The airplane parts which were produced here for the Junkerswerke in Dessau, were used to build JU88 planes. The cave was big enough for three factory units. Several tunnels connected the cave with the surface, the biggest one was huge enough for lorries. Beneath the size of the cave chambers, the softness of the rock was argument why this cave was used. So it was possible to build the necessary huge tunnels in a very short time.

Image: Kleiner Dom (Small Dome) with the KZ memorial.

After the war the Allied saw a military plant in this location and blew up all entrance tunnels. This caused additional destructions and the collapse of some side passages. Some time after the war, the status of the cave as a natural monument and a historic monument was recognized. So the cave was again developed as a show cave, by constructing new entrance and exit tunnels. Today the cave floor is covered by the debris of human destruction.

In the chamber called Kleiner Dom (Small Dome), a monument for the prisoners of the concentration camp KZ Mittelbau Dora near Nordhausen (see  Salzaspring) is located. Many of them were forced into slave labour here. At the end of the war the remaining inmates were divided into three groups. One group reached Schwerin, the second one got lost in the Harz mountains. The third group reached Gardelegen, where more than 100 people were locked in a barn which was then burned down. The monument for this history was created during the time of the German Democratic Republic. This is the reason for its socialist aura, which is even a little ridiculous from today's point of view. But still this monument is very important and reminds people on a dark part of history. It is laudable that it is still kept in order.

The natural entrance is high above the cave floor, with a deep entrance hall. This is the typical form of a cold trap. The cold air from outside enters the cave and cools down the cave below zero, while the rocks are still warmer and dripping water from cracks still enters the cave. The result are icicles all over this part of the cave.

The Karstmuseum is located in the exit tunnel of the cave, and it is possible to visit it independently from a tour. The exhibition includes geology, speleology and mining of the copper slate. Most interesting are numerous cross sections of caves, which explain the principles of karstification in gypsum.

The parking lot of the cave is also an important station of the karst trail. The 10km long section Heimkehle-Pölsfeld shows and explains virtually all karst features of gypsum karst. A small brochure is available at the cave.


Heimkehle Gallery

See also


Main Index | Germany | Gipskarstgebiet am Südharz
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