Situated on the idyllic island of Rügen in former East Germany, the Prora beach resort was built by Adolf Hitler between 1936 and 1939 as a striking show of Third Reich architecture.
Yet the project was halted, with eight separate buildings having been erected, when the Nazi leader decided to focus on building more planes and war infrastructure.
The leader of the German Labor Front, Robert Ley, repeatedly stated that Hitler’s idea was to build five such beach resorts, but Prora was the only one constructed. Early in 1936, a competition was held in which 11 architects took part.
Specific requirements were stipulated – all rooms must face the beach, and the festival hall would have to be big enough for all 20,000 guests. Hitler himself allegedly chose the main design by the Cologne architect, Clemens Klotz with the central festival hall to be constructed according to the plans of Erich zu Putlitz.
Prora was constructed by the Nazis of the Kraft durch Freude or ‘Strength Through Joy, an organization devoted to managing the free time of the working German. The leisure organization took over a six-year period to finish.
It occupied nearly three miles of beachfront and was meant to provide holiday entertainment for Hitler’s hordes at any one time. Each 16 by 8 ft room has two beds, a wardrobe, and a sink. Communal bathrooms served each floor. However, not a single Nazi ever got to stay there.
For years, it had been off the radar (and off the maps) as it was used by the DDR military. With construction materials and manpower diverted to the war effort, work on Prora stopped.
The colossal complex did see some action during the conflict – refugees from the b0mbing of Hamburg lived there in 1944, and the site was used briefly as a military hospital and training center. Post-war, the East German army made sporadic use of the facilities, but by the 1990s, Prora was deserted.
The site is currently being sold off and renovated, in the hopes, it will one day again be home to tens of thousands of people.
Some of the buildings will be marketed as homes for the elderly, others luxury apartments, and still others as a 300 room hotel.