Hiddensee

Ever since my first visit to Rügen some years ago, the island of Hiddensee, located off Rügen’s western coast, has fascinated me.  Road signs show how to get to the ferry, and yet cars are not allowed on the island.  I had read about how cracks have been appearing for years on the island, and I also knew that in the days of the GDR the island was a resort that was used by musicians and artists, where they could be away from the main part of the country and the Stasi could still keep a close eye on them.  The island’s name even turns up in a song from 1974 called “Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen”.

But with so much else to see on Rügen itself, somehow in my first few visits I never made it to Hiddensee.  So when I received an invitation from Kurdirektor Alfred Langemeyer and the Reederei Hiddensee to visit the island before attending a preview of the Störtebeker Festspiele, the chance was too good to miss. [Read more…]

Seeing Rügen from the air

Over the past few years I have seen quite a bit of the island of Rügen, all of it though by car.  One of the places that I had not until recently been to was the famous Königsstuhl chalk cliffs, which are only accessible by foot or by sea.  Going there requires, at the very least, a decision on where to leave the car.

So when Sven Nikolaus from Rügen-Helikopter offered me the chance to fly over the cliffs at sunset, I jumped at the chance not only to fly in a helicopter for the first time, but to see the island from and get some great photos as well.

The helicopter on the ground

The helicopter on the ground

[Read more…]

Prora: a litte-known piece of German history

Located on the eastern coast of Rügen is a piece of German history, that until two years ago I had heard nothing about. And yet, it stretches over 4km along that coast.

Nicknamed the “Koloss” of Prora, it is a remnant of the 1930s when Nazi Regime was looking for large building projects to show of their strength and get people back into work at the same time.

The idea was for a seaside resort for “normal” families, the type that would not otherwise have been able to go away on holiday. But rather than encourage individual tourism in the area, they went for something much grander: a complex where 20,000 people could all stay at the same time.

The seaward side of the building in Prora

The seaward side of the building in Prora

Families would pay a certain amount each week in a fund run by the “Kraft durch Freude” (“Strength Through Joy”) organisation, and when they had paid enough they could board a train to the new station at Prora from where it would be only a short walk to the entrance of the complex. There they would be assigned their room numbers. With every bedroom in the complex having a sea view and the front of the building being directly at the beach, just the idea of such a holiday must have been a dream come true for many in those days. [Read more…]

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