Until the advent of the railway, the fastest and most efficient way to transport goods was by ship. The great highways of antiquity and the Middle Ages were always navigable rivers and canals.
Despite the fact that Germany rushed to build thousands of kilometers of railways since the 19th century, river and canal transport has remained important to the present day.
During the Nazi regime, river transport was not only not reduced, but was encouraged by the National Socialist government. Between 1934 and 1938, major construction works were carried out to connect the Elbe River with the Wesser-Elbe Canal. The aim was to be able to link the Ruhr area with Berlin by ship.
The construction was inaugurated in 1938 with the presence of the then minister without portfolio Rudolph Hess. The lock system allowed 70 ships a day to cross from the river to the canal. This infrastructure was vital to the German war effort, as it allowed the transportation of large quantities of goods and raw materials.
To this day the locks are still in operation. The entire complex has been declared a heritage site and is open to public visits.
How to get to the Rothensee Lock System
The Rothensee lock system is located north of the city of Magdeburg. The best way to get there is by private transportation.