While Adolf Hitler is indisputably one of history’s greatest monsters, he was apparently also a believer in vacation time, as is evidenced by the sprawling ruin known as Prora, a dystopian complex of resort cells that was meant to house German workers on holiday but never actually did so.
Built in the late 1930’s, the Prora complex consists of eight identical buildings on the coast of Germany’s Rügen Island. Stretching for almost three miles down the beach, the proposed resort featured a seaward view from every single room with hallways and all other facilities on the land-facing side of the rooms. Every room was to have a couple of beds, an armoire, and a sink while bathrooms shared per floor. The brutally efficient rooms were built in an effort to provide affordable vacation space for the average German worker, regardless of class, operating under the idealistic ethos that every working German deserves a day at the beach.
Prora was just the first of a number of planned mega-resorts that were being planned by “Strength Through Joy” the Nazi leisure organization, a group which was so successful that they were one of the leading travel providers in the world during the 1930’s. Hitler wanted the giant resorts to not only incent the German populace to support him, but plans have also surfaced showing the dictator’s plans to use the seaside hotels as fall back military installations. In the end, Prora was never used for vacations or fortifications.
All of the beach blanket dreaming came to a screeching halt when World War II began in 1939. Once the war began, construction on the resort complex stopped, leaving the 10,000 built rooms empty. The planned swimming pools and grand theater similarly evaporated. The complex was left largely empty during the war and in the decades afterwards. Prora briefly housed refugees and a home for the elderly among other short term uses, but by the 1990’s the monolithic row of buildings were completely deserted.
Today, Prora still stands mostly empty. Some of the rooms are used as gallery space, while another section houses a small museum devoted to the site, and most successfully, a portion houses Germany’s largest youth hostel. Most recently it seems that there are attempts being made to turn some of Prora into luxury condos. Turning Hitler’s vacation rooms for the common man into homes for the wealthy may be the best way to make sure Prora is purged of its checkered beginnings.