Lake Braies

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Lake Braies
Pragser Wildsee Seekofel from Bucht.jpg
Geographical location South-Tirol
Drain to the Braies Bach
Location close to the shore Braies
Coordinates 46 ° 41 ′ 41 ″  N , 12 ° 5 ′ 4 ″  E Coordinates: 46 ° 41 ′ 41 ″  N , 12 ° 5 ′ 4 ″  E
Pragser Wildsee (Braies Dolomites)
Lake Braies
Altitude above sea level 1494  m slm
surface 31 ha
volume 8,215,000 m³
Maximum depth 36 m
Middle deep 17 m
Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / EVIDENCE AREA Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / EVIDENCE VOLUME Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / EVIDENCE MAX DEPTH Template: Infobox Lake / Maintenance / EVIDENCE MED DEPTH

The Braies ( Italian Lago di Braies ) is a mountain lake in the Braies Valley in the Tyrolean community of Prague . It is located a few kilometers south of the Hochpustertal between Bruneck and Toblach in the Braies Dolomites . It is part of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park and is therefore a protected natural monument .


The lake is 1494  m slm and has a water surface of 31  hectares . It is an average of 17 meters deep and has a maximum depth of 36 meters. The geological origin of the lake can be traced back to the creation of a natural dam as a result of a mudflow . The lake is dominated by the imposing Seekofel massif (2810 m). The lake is the starting point of the Dolomites high path no.1 .


The lake also plays a role in the South Tyrolean world of legends . From here the underground parts of the Fanes Empire could be reached by boat . The now buried gateway to the underworld is said to have been at the southern end of the lake in the direction of Seekofel, which is why it is called Sass dla Porta (Torberg) in Ladin .


The construction of a hotel on Lake Braies was initially not without controversy. The Graz university teacher and alpinist Viktor Wolf von Glanvell , who spent his summer holidays as a regular guest in Braies in the 1880s , spoke out in 1891 with other signatories in a declaration "to defy all hosts and speculators" against the construction of a hotel on the idyllic mountain lake .

Around the hotel on Lake Braies, which opened in 1899, an important event of the Second World War took place at the end of April and beginning of May 1945 . Since the end of 1944, the " Reichsführer SS " Heinrich Himmler, in coordination with the head of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), Ernst Kaltenbrunner , let the most prominent political prisoners of the Nazi state from the German concentration camps first in the Dachau concentration camp and finally in Niederdorf in April 1945 Bring South Tyrolean Pustertal . The SS guards had orders not to let the prisoners come into enemy hands alive. Thanks to the courageous action of the Wehrmacht officer Wichard von Alvensleben , the prisoners, who were finally housed in the Hotel Pragser Wildsee, were freed by the US Army there on May 4, 1945 .

View to the north to the hotel "Pragser Wildsee"
The chapel next to the hotel "Pragser Wildsee"

The background: After the armistice of September 8, 1943 between the Western Allies and Italy, the German Reich had de facto annexed South Tyrol and parts of northern Italy as well as present-day Slovenia (i.e. the former Austro-Hungarian rule) as "operational zones". In addition to South Tyrol and Trentino , the province of Belluno belonged to the " Operational Zone Alpine Foreland " and, like Friuli , Venezia Giulia , Istria and Dalmatia ("Operational Zone Adriatic Coast"), was withdrawn from the sovereignty of the fascist puppet state Repubblica Sociale Italiana . Part of the Nazi leadership hoped to be able to defend the Alps from the advancing Allies , from Bavaria to Trentino , hyped up as the so-called “ Alpine fortress ” in propaganda . Himmler, who in the last weeks and months of the Nazi regime carried out his own secret diplomacy mainly in the direction of the Americans, and Kaltenbrunner believed that they could gain a favorable negotiating position with the Allies by blackmailing them. The total of 139 so-called special prisoners from seventeen European nations and a group of clan prisoners were to be used as hostages .

Among the prominent prisoner among other former Austrian Chancellor were Kurt von Schuschnigg with his wife and daughter, the former French Prime Minister Leon Blum and his wife, Hitler's former Minister of Economics Hjalmar Schacht , the British secret agent Sigismund Payne Best , former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Kállay , the Commander-in-chief of the Greek Army, General Alexandros Papagos with his entire general staff, the French Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, Gabriel Piguet , the Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller , as well as family members of the Hitler assassin Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg .

The hostage plans failed. A German officer, Captain Wichard von Alvensleben , had learned of the prisoner transport and left on April 30, 1945, the prisoners in Niederdorf in Puster by a Wehrmacht - shock troops liberate from the clutches of the SS. On the same day, the prisoners were taken to the nearby Hotel Pragser Wildsee , where they were looked after by the hotel owner Emma Heiss-Hellenstainer. The US Army arrived at the hotel on May 4, 1945 and took the German soldiers prisoner. The Americans led the liberated prisoners in two convoys on May 8 and 10 via Verona to Naples and the island of Capri . It was only after further interrogation that some of the liberated were finally allowed to return home, while others were taken prisoner of war.

Today, the hotel, where members of Stauffenberg and other resistance fighters meet every year around July 20, is the contemporary history archive of Lake Braies , which is intended to keep the memory of events in April and May 1945 alive. The contemporary history archive Pragser Wildsee is the first archive that is holistically devoted to the hostage situation in 1945. In order to secure the historically valuable archive material for posterity, it was collected from all over the world and is now housed in the Hotel Pragser Wildsee.


The lake is part of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park , where many different types of butterflies such as B. the blue ant , the alpine apollo or the moth, but also birds such as the pygmy owl , the black woodpecker and the gray woodpecker occur, which can also be observed directly on the lake.

In the lake there are salmon trout , lake trout and brown trout as well as arctic char and minnows , which is why fishing is practiced here. The South Tyrolean fishing association FIPSAS has fishing rights here and issues day tickets.


The Pragser Wildsee is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites and today one of the most visited lakes in South Tyrol. Among other things, it is the location for the successful Italian series The Mountain Police with Terence Hill . The film attracts numerous Italian vacationers to the lake. In the Dolomites of Braies Lake is one of the most popular attractions. The circumnavigation of the lake in particular is a popular afternoon excursion for locals and tourists. The mountain lake is also the starting point for many hikes and mountain tours in the Braies Dolomites, such as B. to the Seekofel and the hut of the same name , but also to the Rossalm or the Hochalpenkopf .

Web links

Commons : Pragser Wildsee  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Stobl: Victor Wolf Edler von Glanvells resistance to the construction of a hotel on Lake Braies (1891). In: Der Schlern 91, 2017, issue 6, pp. 4–23.
  2. Peter Koblank: The Liberation of Special Prisoners and Kinship Prisoners in South Tyrol , online edition Mythos Elser 2006.
  3. Contemporary history archive Pragser Wildsee ( (German, English, Italian)
  4. 147 - Pragser Wildsee - FIPSAS - waters adventure fishing in South Tyrol - fishing water cards - fishermen. Retrieved on August 16, 2019 (German).
  5. Circumnavigation of the lake on Lake Braies