Day One Hundred and Twenty-three: Berlin to the Baltic
All Nazi buildings had to be monuments to the thousand-year Reich, and a holiday camp was no exception. Work began in Prora in May 1936, and by the summer of 1939 over 3 miles of five-storey accommodation stretched along the coast, enough rooms to take 20,000 people at a time. But no holidaymakers ever came here. The outbreak of war brought other priorities, and the People's Resort became a hospital for evacuees from the bombing of Hamburg, and a hostel for forced labour squads from all over Nazi-conquered Europe.
Now under federal ownership, there is a museum here, and one or two well-intentioned educational projects, and some talk of a hotel, but its scale is so daunting that, sixty-eight years after it was built, it's still here, a long, dusty-white concrete skeleton between the pine forest and the sand. I walk through it and onto the beach. A few boys are playing football. A crisp, cooling breeze comes off the Baltic.
I look behind me at the wreckage of a dream. A dream of a Europe united by force.
I've seen a new Europe these past five months, a Europe which could be united, for the first time in history, by co-operation rather than conflict.
If it happens, and the signs are hopeful, it will be a mighty achievement.
Choose another day from New Europe
- Series: New Europe
- Chapter: Day One Hundred and Twenty-three: Berlin to the Baltic
- Country/sea: Germany
- Place: Prora
- Book page no: 285
Bookmarks will keep your place in one or more series. But you'll need to register and/or log in.