Stretching for over three miles along the white sandy beach on Germany’s Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, lies the world’s biggest hotel with 10,000 bedrooms all facing the sea. But for 70 years since it was built, no holiday maker has ever stayed there. This is hotel Prora, a massive building complex built between 1936 and 1939 by the Nazis as part of their “Strength through Joy” (“Kraft durch Freude,” KdF) programme. The aim was to provide leisure activities for German workers and spread Nazi propaganda. Locals call Prora the Colossus because of its monumental structure.
Prora lies on an extensive bay between the Sassnitz and Binz regions, known as the Prorer Wiek, on the narrow heath (the Prora) which separates the lagoon of the Großer Jasmunder Bodden from the Baltic Sea. The complex consist of eight identical buildings that extend over a length of 4.5 kilometres and are roughly 150 metres from the beach. A workforce of 9,000 took three years to build it, starting in 1936, and the Nazis had long-term plans for four identical resorts, all with cinema, festival halls, swimming pools and a jetty where Strength Through Joy cruise ships would dock.