Hector was only made aware of Prora in recent times by a much missed Late-Colleague. Google Earth reveals the sheer size of the place, it is huge. What is it? The is the largest Seebad an der Welt, so the Propaganda was written. Conceived when a distant Famous Relative was running the show, this was to be a purpose built Seaside Resort for the People, sounds like a Socialist Concept, irony. As he insisted on invading Poland work here came to an abrupt halt in 1939, they had other things to make. 20.000 (imagine the booking of the Deck Chairs) would have been accommodated in five long blocks running fifty metres from the coast along the Tombolo which connects the higher ground of Sassnitz to the north and Binz to the south.
In an area of Pine Forest, much of that which was cleared nature has reclaimed. For the minority of one who understands Plant Succession, the Climax Vegetation has been maintained on this Psammosere, or perhaps this should read Plagio-Climax as the odd Beech and Apple Tree have sneaked into the equation.
Alighting for the Bus at the southern end of the most northern Block, the full dereliction was certainly in one’s face. With the rain pouring endlessly the place seemed very familiar: Easterhouse, Drumchapel and Castlemilk came to mind. A Famous Aberdeen Builder likened it to the west end of Rutherglen, one wonders how bad that is – Toryglen?
The concrete road runs on the landward side of the complex. Approaching the end of the northern block there were signs of something happening, a Dukumentationszentrum, we shall see that on the way back.
The end of the building was restored, a bright sky blue – this is now a Youth Hostel. Once again a famous piece of history in East Germany has been partly converted to this purpose, Schloss Colditz being another that we have visited. Taking refuge from the rain it was declared time for breakfast in the Canteen.
The plan was to walk the entire length of the complex. The Dokumentationszentrum was in a single room, entry was free but they wanted €2 to see a video – in Deutsch. All writing was in German, as the place is not a secret one wonders why. This was poor.
We carried on down passed two full blocks and arrived at what was meant to to be the site of the focal point of the complex, a large Congress Hall type construction, however there was evidence of this. In Block 3 things began to change. There was glass in the windows, not all was broken. A Discotheque is/was here, then being in Deutschland, there was the mandatory Gastätte – Bier and Food. It was now lunchtime.
The number of people walking in the rain was increasing markedly as we walked along our fourth Block. We reached the Museum proper. This had taken over just one section of the huge Block and on four floors this felt huge. Everything leftover from the DDR was here, a far better set of exhibits than the DDR Museum in Berlin, especially is one is into Scooters and Mopeds.
DDR uniforms, typewriters, hi-fi, tank driving simulators, stuffed animals, books, many books, were housed in what was intended to be accommodation. Of relevance to the actual site and in a room off the extensive display of comedy-mopeds was an 18 metre model of how the site could have looked.
At the end of one corridor on the third floor was a room set up with the twin beds and wash basin as had originally been conceived. One could now appreciate the scale, the buildings are narrow – the corridor and the rooms off, each with a sea view is all there was to it. The communal toilets and wash-rooms at the very end of the corridors. Being Deutschland, Bier and Food was available on the top floor in a Self-Service that occupied a few rooms.
The rain had stopped, the sun was shining, the puddles were starting to dry up as we emerged once more into the real world. Still another Block to pass, by now it was apparent that Businesses are being invited to move in. It is madness to have such property sitting unused – the potential is there. So robust was the construction, it would be ironic if this was the part of the Reich that did last 1,000 Years…