The apogee of the Nazis’ “KdF” or Kraft durch Freude (“Strength through Joy”) movement, their seaside resort known as Kolos (“Colossus”), at Prora on the east coast of Rügen, was built to provide R&R for the German people – up to 20,000 at a time – before the nation’s forthcoming military expansion east. However, construction stalled upon the outbreak of hostilities in 1939 – ironically, the only families to stay here were those bombed out of Hamburg by the RAF in 1945 – then, under the GDR, it was strictly off-limits as a military base. The camp is classic dictatorial architecture – megalomaniac in size, brutal in style – its six-storey reinforced-concrete blocks arcing away behind the coast for over three miles. It takes over twenty minutes just to cycle along the length of the entire complex, which can only be seen from the air, and it is slowly falling into ruin, screened by pine scrub as the debate continues over its future. A proposal to convert it into a hotel came to naught although one building at the north end has been rehabilitated as Europe’s largest youth hostel.

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Explore Germany



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