Sitting quietly on an island in the Baltic Sea lies a former weapon of Nazi propaganda, a massive building complex entitled Prora. The days of Prora’s quiet rest may quickly be coming to an end, however, as German real estate developers look to turn the beach front building into residential apartments.
During the earlier years of the Nazi regime, Kraft durch Freude – or “Strength Through Joy” – was instituted. The Strength through Joy program was instituted by Nazi higher-ups as a potent weapon of propaganda designed to glorify the Nazi state in the minds of average working Germans. The U.K.’s History Learning Site states the following in regard to the intentions of the Strength Through Joy program.
“Strength Through Joy served two main purposes. The first was to ensure that no one had too much time on their hands to get involved in untoward activities against the state. There was a belief that idle hands might get involved in anti-state misdemeanours. The second main purpose of Strength Through Joy was to produce an environment within Nazi Germany whereby the average worker would be grateful to the state for providing activities and holidays that in ‘normal’ circumstances they could not afford as individuals.”
The idea that the state, for its own safety, ought to provide structured leisure time to the working man, lead to the building of the complex known as Prora. The Prora complex occupies nearly 3 miles of Baltic coastline and was originally intended to provide vacation housing for nearly 20,000 working class Germans. The complex itself consists of a network of identical concrete buildings.
Despite the Nazi’s original grand intentions for Prora, the project was shelved in 1939 – likely as a result of the up-tick in the Second World War. According to the Wall Street Journal, after the fall of the Nazi regime, the building complex underwent periods of occupation by both the Soviets and the East Germans before eventually falling into disrepair.
Now, according to the same Wall Street Journal article, a German developer plans to invest nearly €70 million into the former Nazi propaganda machine in order to turn it into an upscale residential apartment building. Such an influx of investment capital into a remnant of what were likely Germany’s darkest days, is proving stereotypical of the modern German real estate market. According to the above referenced article, everything from former Nazi bomb shelters, to elite Nazi getaways have been transformed into commercial property over the past few years. It is this trend of moving on from the past that developers are counting on as they look to commercialize the 3 mile strip of Baltic coastline occupied by the Prora complex.