Adolf Hitler was a monster; that much is clear. However, as leader of the Third Reich he did believe that his subjects were deserving of vacation time.
Evidence of this can still be found in the sprawling ruin known as Prora. The complex is a dystopian resort that was meant to house German workers on their annual holidays.
Of course, this never quite played out to Hitler’s plans. Prora is now an eerie relic of another idea belonging to history’s most infamous madman.
Built in the late 1930’s, the Prora complex consists of eight identical buildings on the coast of Germany’s Rügen Island.
The buildings stretch for almost three miles down the beach. The original design proposed a seaward view from every single room, with hallways and all other facilities on the land-facing side of the rooms.
True to Nazi form, every detail was meticulously planned. Each room was to have two beds, an armoire, and a sink while bathrooms were shared on each floor.
The rooms were built in an effort to provide affordable vacation space for the average German worker, the ethos being that every working German deserved a day at the beach.
Prora was the first of a number of planned mega-resorts that fell within the “Strength Through Joy” mantra the Nazi leisure organization was operating by.
Hitler backed the giant resorts as part of the propaganda system of support he was trying to gain from the German public. (The effort was during the early years of his reign of power.)
His other incentive was the plan to use the seaside hotels as fall back military installations. In the end, Prora was never used for vacations or fortifications.
Everything came to a halt when World War II began in 1939. Once the war began, construction on the resort complex stopped, leaving the 10,000 rooms empty.
The planned swimming pools and grand theater similarly came to nothing. The complex was left largely empty during the war and for 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 continues to be predominantly empty. Some rooms are used as gallery space, while another section houses a small museum devoted to the site.
The busiest portion of the complex 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.