Nowadays, various shops have taken root in Plora, and the lives of residents and tourists have become more and more convenient.
When I arrived in Plora, the sky was overcast. A whole row of huge, depressive, and aesthetically unattractive earth-yellow box buildings stretched straight out until the end of my line of sight, like an impervious high wall. The opposite side is tightly covered.
Prola Resort on the Baltic Sea
I drove 3 hours from Berlin to Rugen Island on the Baltic Sea just to take a look at this “Hitler’s largest relic in the world.” Completely different from what you imagined, this is not a barracks or a factory, but a “world’s largest resort” that once had 10,000 sea view rooms and can accommodate 20,000 people at the same time.
“Power comes from joy”
“War Madman” Hitler, why did he build such a resort? This starts with a project called “Strength Comes from Joy”.
In 1933, the Nazi Party, which was first in power in Germany, established a leisure organization called “Power Comes from Joy” (abbreviated as “KdF”). Its real purpose was to win over more working class and curb the ascendant communist trend in Germany at that time.
KdF provides a variety of cheap leisure options for workers across Germany, from concerts, theaters, libraries, day trips to long-distance trips. Soon, it became the largest “travel agency” in Germany and even the world at that time. According to statistics, more than 25 million Germans participated in KdF activities in 1939-equivalent to 1 in every 3 Germans.
In 1935, KdF announced that it would build five huge resorts on the Baltic Sea coast-one every 200 kilometers, for workers from all over Germany to vacation. The entire Prola Resort will be composed of 8 identical giant buildings, lined up along the long and soft sandy beach of Baltic sponge, with a total length of more than 4.5 kilometers.
At that time, the Nazi slogan was “Every worker should spend his holiday on the beach.” Therefore, all of Plora’s 10,000 rooms face the sea, and the corridors and stairs are carefully designed on the other side. In order to reflect the concept of “everyone is equal”, there is only one room type: a small single room of 10 square meters that can accommodate 2 people. Adjacent rooms can be connected together by opening doors to facilitate families with children. According to the original plan, a huge banquet hall that can accommodate 25,000 people, two swimming pools with artificial wave-making facilities, as well as a cinema and a theater will also be built.
In a large rally, Hitler confronted his enthusiastic supporters and declared with a high profile: “I want every worker to enjoy a real vacation, so that you can truly relax during the vacation.”
However, his real intention is to prepare for battle. KdF vigorously develops sports in order to exercise the physique of the Germans and make them stronger fighters to fight for the Nazis. These large resorts built along the beach were not only used to win over German workers, but also planned to be easily converted into field hospitals during wartime to receive a large number of wounds brought by warships.
/ There is only one room type: a small single room of 10 square meters that can accommodate 2 people. /
If completed smoothly, it will become a well-deserved “world’s No. 1 resort”. However, the current situation made a huge joke: since the construction of the resort began in 1936, nearly 10,000 workers and all major German construction companies participated in it. By 1939, it was almost completed. However, the outbreak of World War II and Hitler’s crazy plan of conscription and aggression made “vacation” clearly no longer the theme of German life. The construction workers here were urgently transferred to the nearby arsenal, and the nearly completed resort failed to welcome even a vacationer at that time.
Twists and turns of fate
Probably because it was not finally completed, Proola in World War II did not turn into a field hospital as originally planned, but when Germany was bombed by the Allies, it briefly became a temporary shelter for refugees from all directions. In 1945, when Germany was defeated, the Soviet army occupied Prola, took all the items here, and even stripped off the inner and outer walls, leaving Prola with bare red bricks.
Subsequently, it became part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). At the end of the 1940s, 3 of the 8 buildings were demolished, and steel bars and bricks were used to rebuild other houses damaged in World War II. The remaining five buildings, except for one that was directly used as a training ground for the East German army to train urban combat operations, most of them became military camps after being repaired. Prola has become a place that is completely opposite to the atmosphere of the original resort: a heavily guarded military forbidden area.
/ The clean and glamorous resort and the old and dilapidated ruins may even co-exist in the same building. /
I used to think that these years, like too much East German history, would disappear without a trace. Unexpectedly, one of the buildings in Prola still retains everything from the East German period and opened as an “East German Museum”. The restored exhibits in the building are carefully arranged, and each room displays a different theme. In the officer’s dormitory, the wooden furniture full of Soviet characteristics makes people feel familiar; the canteen next to it is filled with pickles bottles from the East German period, which was the only brand that could be bought on the market that year. There is even an indoor shooting training ground hidden in the small space transformed by the resort room.
What impressed me the most was a slightly more spacious room with a higher level of furnishings. Obviously, it was a combination of two small rooms. The note on the side says that this is a room reserved for East German officers to vacation here in the 1980s. After 50 years of construction, Prola finally ushered in its first batch of “vacation guests.”
The East German Museum, located in an unrenovated building in Plora
However, in the late 1980s, the two Germanys merged, the Cold War ended, and the military barracks were naturally abandoned. This golden seashore area, which should have been an inch of gold, has gradually degenerated into ruins overgrown with weeds. The local government has repeatedly tried to sell it as a whole, but it has repeatedly failed due to its large scale and the astronomical numbers that no one can afford to purchase and repair.
I walked into a small restaurant on the ground floor of the Plora complex, and the owner, Custal, was skillfully taking out the cheese-covered Neapolitan pizza from the oven. The instant the door of the stove was opened, the burnt fragrance of the dough was scattered throughout the room. Custal said he is Romanian, and it is the third year since he opened a shop in Proola. “In the summer months, I had to work 16 hours a day.” He witnessed Proola’s transformation from the ruins of the year into a brand-new holiday apartment, and also witnessed the “real vacation” for the first time since its construction. customer”.
In addition to large-scale renovations, a small part of the area still retains its previous ruined state
Prola’s silence was first broken by a group of punk youths. They came to this beach in 2003 and held a huge electronic music festival. The three-day event attracted more than 15,000 people. The huge publicity banners covered the ruins of the ruined buildings, and the deserted Pluola became a city that never sleeps. Looking around, the ruins are all temporarily set up camps.
Perhaps it was the electronic syllable that made more people know about Proola and saw its long-lost commercial value; coupled with the local government’s abandonment of the overall sale plan, it was changed to “sale by block”, since Since then, people have come to invest here one after another.
The first one to test the waters here was a youth hostel where young people with tight wallets can enjoy beach vacations. Mysterious ruins, unique history, and free beaches all at once attracted a large number of young people who did not take the unusual path to come here to hunt for wonders, and let more investors see the huge potential of this ruin.
The crumbling distribution box in the ruins is still the original of the East German barracks.
After that, long-term rental apartments for retirees and luxury resorts for vacationers to enjoy beach holidays have been built in this area. Without damaging the facade of the building, cleverly designed glass balconies are installed on the otherwise bare walls, allowing tourists to enjoy the Baltic Sea sun and beach without leaving home. Stayed in the most luxurious “Sky Suite” here for a week, and the asking price was as high as 2,000 euros (about 16,000 yuan).
However, the area of Plora is too wide. Even though it has been in construction for many years, there are still large areas of ruins that have not been transformed. At the same time, because the area of a single building is too large, investors often only buy half of the building for renovation. The clean and shiny resort and the old and dilapidated ruins may even be in the same building, forming a huge contrast: one side is painted. New snow-white walls, spotless glass windows; on the other side, there are black holes that have long gone without windows, and old mottled and peeling earth-yellow walls.
The empty beach in front of the ruins, the entrance is painted with graffiti
Even the beach presents a sharp contrast. The beach facing the ruins was deserted and terrifyingly lonely. Only the waves beat the beach regularly. The entrance was filled with swearing graffiti by young men with excess hormones, the only bright color here.
I tried to walk into one of the ruins. Broken bricks were all over the floor, and the remaining yellow and white walls were full of East German characteristics. On the distribution box that almost fell slantingly on the side, the “1967” inscription sign confirmed my guess. I’m not sure what it was doing before, but I’m pretty sure about the future use of this place: the scaffolding that has been set up outside the window indicates that this place will be transformed into another splendid resort in the near future.
Sellin Pier on Rugen Island by the Baltic Sea
According to the plan, Prola’s overall transformation plan will be completed in 2022, when Prola will be presented to the world as a complete resort facility for the first time after more than 80 years of construction.