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…]

The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Tower

They call it the “Wahrzeichen der Stadt” – the town’s landmark, and photos of it can usually be found on many of the postcards from Bergen auf Rügen.  And yet, the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Tower is not really near to the centre of the town and, in tower terms, is not really that tall.  So what is all the fuss about?

To understand the tower, it is an advantage to know who exactly Ernst Moritz Arndt was and why it was built in the first place.

He was a poet and a thinker, born in 1769 on Rügen at a time when the island belonged to Sweden.  His works reflect the beauty that he saw in the island, but he known in particular for criticising Napoleon’s occupation of Germany and fleeing into exile as a result. [Read more…]

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