Prora – A lost world

South of Sassnitz (Germany), the 4.5km (2.8 miles) long Colossus of Prora silently overlooks the Prorer Wiek (i.e. bay). Work began in 1936, the idea was to give every worker two weeks of vacation by the sea, something taken for granted by many today – a radical idea then. This was two years before Sweden first legislated for annual leave, and there is still one country in the western world that doesn’t have any legislated annual leave. Kraft durch Freude, Strength through joy, was the device that would motivate the workers of the Third Reich. But no families ever arrived in Prora, before construction could be finished Europe stood in flames.

Arriving in Prora on a rainy October day, I did not see Hitler’s vision of the “most mighty and large sea resort to ever have existed”, but a sinister monument over a world since long lost. Mighty and large as it is, there is hardly anything cheerful about Prora. Imagining little children playing in the streets just makes it feel more grim. But there is beauty of a different kind, trees have started to grow on rooftops and wild roses and vines cover the grey concrete walls. By the slow decay of time what was made by men fades away while nature patiently reclaims what is hers – brick by brick.

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