Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition


a mountain of Germany, in Prussian Saxony, the highest point (3733 ft.) of the Harz. It is a huge, bare, granite-strewn, dome-shaped mass and, owing to its being the greatest elevation in north Germany, commands magnificent views in all directions. From it Magdeburg and the Elbe, the towers of Leipzig and the Thuringian forest are distinctly visible in clear weather. Access to the summit is attained by a mountain railway (12 m.) from Dreiannen-Hohne, a station on the normal gauge line Wernigerode-Nordhausen, and by two carriage roads from the Bodetal and Ilsenburg respectively. In the folklore of north Germany the Brocken holds an important place, and to it cling many legends. Long after Christianity had penetrated to these regions, the Brocken remained a place of heathen worship. Annually, on Walpurgis night (1st of May), curious rites were here enacted, which, condemned by the priests of the Christian church, led to the belief that the devil and witches here held their orgies. Even to this day, this superstition possesses the minds of many country people around, who believe the mountain to be haunted on this night. In literature [v.04 p.0624]it is represented by the famous "Brocken scene" in Goethe's Faust.

See Jacobs, Der Brocken in Geschichte und Sage (Halle, 1878); and Pröhle, Brockensagen (Magdeburg, 1888).