In 2016, we spent a week on the island of Rügen, Germany’s largest island situated on the southern Baltic Sea coast, and located in an area that was previously East Germany. Being such an interesting part of Germany, we did a lot of exploring around the seaside resort of Binz.
One day, our family took us to visit Prora, the site of Hitler’s grand-fantasy holiday project for the people of Germany. It was built between 1936 and 1939 as a beach resort in the name of the ‘Strength Through Joy’ (Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project. Automotive historians will recognise the KdF initials as those used for Hitler’s dream car for the masses, the KdF-wagen, later to be known as the VW Beetle. The construction of Prora was to consist of eight identical buildings that stretched for 2.8 miles (4.5 km), running parallel with the white, sandy beaches along that section of the coast.
This project, though, was never completed, because Hitler ran out of time and money, but his idea was to provide the German people with a holiday resort that they could visit once a year. It was intended that the people would indulge in recreational sports and activities, but it was all to be controlled by the Nazi propaganda machine. Hitler’s dream took a nose-dive, though, as his priorities were pulled in different directions as the War took hold. After the War, some of the completed buildings fell into Soviet hands, and then subsequently the communist East German army, where it would serve as soldier’s barracks.
Over the years, it has been used for numerous different activities, but never quite as Hitler had intended. More recently, it was acquired by property developers and some of the many completed flat units are today selling for around US $1-million (€900,000) each. This development also included an upmarket hotel, and the already completed Youth Hostel, which is reportedly very popular with young travellers making their way through Europe. Recently, one building was even converted into a discotheque.
The irony of this whole project today, is that Hitler’s nationalist socialist ideology has gone full circle, via communism and dereliction, and is now a capitalist playground. The Porsche 911 Carrera 4 bears testament to that.
Written by: Glen Smale
Image by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale