The Ruhr valley has long served as a primary base of heavy industry for the German nation. In World War II, for example, the region processed millions of tons of raw materials to make the steel used to conquer its neighbors.

The area teemed with factories running round the clock, along with a canal and rail system providing efficient transport to receiving docks. And all around, farmers plied the thousands of acres of land that kept the soldiers and citizens of the Third Reich from going hungry.

And nearby, watching at different points in the valley, standing like majestic monuments to man’s efficiency, laid the sources that made it all possible.

They provided the electricity to keep the machinery running without end, and the water to quench the thirst of the workers, as well as millions of others who depended upon them to carry out their livelihoods. They were, of course, the cluster of dams that controlled the flow of the many rivers which coursed throughout the valley, and whose presence weighed heavy on the minds of British war planners. Such structures were viewed as strategic targets at the top of the list to be destroyed…if they could.