Monday, December 12, 2016

Prora: Hitler's abandoned beach resort

The beach resort of Prora, on the island of Rügen, Germany, is known for 8 abandoned large structures, part of a Nazi-planned tourism project. Hitler envisioned an ambitious plan for a gigantic beach resort, the "most mighty and large one to ever have existed", under the ideal that every worker deserved a holiday in the sun. The resort would hold 20,000 beds, and in the middle a huge building was to be erected. The resort had to be convertible into a military hospital in the event of war. 

Building took place between 1936 and 1939 as a Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project. The design competition was overseen by Adolf Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer and won by Clemens Klotz. According to the designs, all rooms were planned to overlook the sea, while corridors and sanitation are located on the land side. Each room of 5 by 2.5 metres (16 by 8 feet) was to have two beds, an armoire (wardrobe) and a sink. There were communal toilets, showers and ballrooms on each floor. The buildings extend over a length of 4.5 kilometres (2.7 miles) and are roughly 150 metres (500 feet) from the beach.

All major construction companies of the Reich and a total of 9,000 workers were involved in the project. However, with the onset of World War II, construction stopped. The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialized. During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings housed female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe.

After the war, the Soviet army took control of the area and established a military base at Prora, demolishing two buildings by the end of the 1940s. In the late 1950s the East German military rebuilt several of the buildings to house several National People's Army units. After German reunification, parts of the buildings were used from 1990 to 1992 by the Military Technical School of the Bundeswehr and from 1992 to 1994 to house asylum seekers from the Balkans. Beginning from the 90s large parts of the buildings were looted and vandalized, with the a exception of Block 3, Prora Center, which from 1995 to 2005 housed a variety of museums, special exhibitions, and a gallery.

Starting in 2004, the site has began being sold off individually for various uses. Some of them are to be converted into hotels, other into shops and apartments. A house for the elderly and a shopping center is also going to be built. 


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