Once in a while I have a craving for some sea and sand. The easiest remedy is a trip to the Baltic coast, which you can easily reach in 3 hours from Berlin.
Recently, on my second trip to Rügen – Germany’s largest island – I came across a shockingly huge, 4.5 km long abandoned housing structure that leaves you speechless. Among the island’s sandy beaches, white chalk cliffs and forests, you find the remains of a seaside resort that was originally planned to provide affordable holidays for 20.000 working class citizens of Nazi Germany. Having a break from work was rather an excuse, as the resorts main purpose was to condition the vacationers for war and other ideological measures. Construction of the resort’s eight identical housing blocks comprising 10,000 guest rooms started in 1936, but came to an end in 1939. During WW2 it partially served as refugee camp. Due to and thanks to the end of the war and the fall of the Nazi regime the seaside resort was never completed and used for its original purpose. After 1945 several buildings were reconstructed and used as military housing and military schools for East and reunited German forces.
This is one of the few monumental projects of the National Socialists that has at least partly been realized. The complex on the Baltic Sea between the towns of Binz and Sassnitz, designed primarily by architect Clemens Klotz, impressively documents the megalomania of the Hitler era. The overall design was even awarded the Grand Prix at the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris.
Today, five housing blocks and an administration building remain, in which only a youth hostel, a “museum”, as well as the Documentation Center Prora can be found. All other buildings are empty and left to decay, graffiti and vandalism (warning, enter at your own risk!). The entire resort is quite surreal. From afar you get the feeling as if you got lost and stumbled upon a “DHARMA Initiative” research compound. Walking through the abandoned buildings makes you feel as if you just entered the sunken Titanic.
No one knows what will happen to the mammoth structure. Investors come and go. Even though it was never completed or put to use, the Prora seaside resort remains a living example of Third Reich architecture and madness. Lest we forget.