||Demolished / Renovated:
||Hotel / Resort
||Prora, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany
||Koloss von Prora, Colossus of Prora, Walter Ulbricht Home, Colossus of Rügen
On the island of Rügen, Germany, lies the remnants of an expansive beach resort constructed by the Third Reich. It was one of five entertainment complexes planned, and although it was never completed, it remains as the largest Third Reich building in existence, extending for about 4.5 km (2.8 miles). The resort was built for the Kraft durch Freude
(KdF - Strength Through Joy), a large state-controlled organization that sought to provide cheap or free leisure activities for the working class. Prora was designed to accommodate 20,000 vacationers in two complexes, each having four blocks of ten housing units each. The units were to be connected via swimming pools and other community buildings, centrally located around an administration building and open festival square. A multitude of cinemas, restaurants, and worker housing were planned, as well as a large quay where two KdF cruise ships could dock. Hitler's plans called for a massive festival hall to be built that could hold all 20,000 visitors, as well as the ability for the complex to be converted to a military hospital if needed. The complex was so large that a small train line was to be built to transport vacationers from the central quay to the outer blocks.
Aerial view showing the southern complex (about half the resort)
Construction began in May 1936, and about 9,000 workers in a multitude of construction companies were involved in the massive project. The resort was planned for completion in 1941, however the need for construction materials and the onset of World War II halted construction in 1938; most workers were transferred to the V-Weapon plant at Peenemünde
. Refugees from Hamburg and other nearby cities were housed in the mostly-finished buildings, and the site was also used for military training and a hospital. After the war, the Soviet military used the buildings for housing troops for some time, then stripping any usable materials from the structures. Two housing blocks were demolished in the 1940s, and the East German Army used the buildings for urban combat training from 1950 to 1990, and subsequently leaving much in ruins. The GDR did rebuild some of the units to house soldiers in the 1950s however, and most of what remains, both interior and exterior, are the products of this remodeling. When the German unification occurred in 1990, all used structures at Prora were left abandoned.
A few businesses have moved into parts of the complex, including a youth hostel, dance club, restaurant, and the Documentation Center
, a museum dedicated to the history of the resort. Plans to reuse the rest of the complex have been proposed, however many mixed feelings have been expressed due to the history of the site and the existing tourist population in the region.
For some fantastic historic photos, visit Prora at thirdreichruins.com