Unfinished Nazi resort draws investors

BERLIN — Vacation homes for sale in the German town of Prora, on the Baltic island of Ruegen, feature private saunas and sea views at a steep discount to similar properties nearby. The catch? They’re part of a dilapidated complex of identical, unadorned blocks built by Adolf Hitler to house 20,000 workers on Nazi party-sponsored vacations.

Developers this spring began marketing apartments in the Colossus of Prora, as it’s known, for as much as 700,000 euros ($900,000) each. They’ve stripped the grimy plaster off facades, smashed through walls to create spaces big enough to appeal to modern tastes, and added balconies, wood floors and glossy kitchens.

“It’s better than letting the whole thing crumble,” Uwe Heuer, a banker from Hamburg, said as he toured a model apartment. “When I’m here I don’t think about the Nazi history.”

Begun in 1936 and abandoned when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Prora was the largest project of the Nazis’ “Strength Through Joy” organization, created to keep workers busy with patriotic activities in their leisure time. More than twice as long as the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris, the complex consisted of eight buildings with a total of 10,000 rooms.

The design, with its vast swimming pools filled with seawater, a column-lined meeting hall reminiscent of ancient Rome, and a square for parades, won a Grand Prix award at the 1937 Paris World Exposition. (read full article)