Youth hostel arises in former Nazi holiday resort on Baltic Sea
The Prora beach resort on the German island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea was supposed to be a vacation spot for Nazis and their families. Now, following years of neglect, part of the massive complex has been turned into a youth hostel.
“Our credo is 'bright instead of brown',” said hostel manager Dennis Brosseit, referring to the Nazi party’s affinity for the colour brown.
In the new hostel, officials from the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania see a rebirth of sorts and a way to break from Prora’s connection to its dark past.
“In the grey, crumbling walls, colourful life is returning,” said Manuela Schwesig, the state’s minister of social affairs.
The 4.5-kilometre-long resort complex, which was built in the late 1930s through the Nazis’ Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) programme, was supposed to include a theatre, swimming pools and other amenities.
Though it was never actually used for tourism – parts of it ended up being used to support the German war efforts – it was meant to accommodate 20,000 holidaymakers. Its various buildings make it one of the Nazis’ biggest architectural legacies.
Largely neglected since the war, between 2004 and 2006 much of the huge complex was sold off to private investors and renovated.
Officials now hope the hostel – which features hundreds of beds – will stimulate youth and foreign tourism to the eastern Baltic coast, where only five percent of visitors come from outside Germany.
But politicians and hostel management alike seem concerned that some people could see the project as a way of glorifying Nazism.
For that reason, they have been careful to emphasize that this is a new chapter in Prora’s tumultuous history.
“We will do everything to ensure that no ‘brown’ ideas can take root here," said regional politician Kerstin Kassner.