Former Nazi resort rebuilt as huge youth hostel

Tue Jul 5, 2011 1:50pm EDT
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By Kalina Oroschakoff

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A gigantic Nazi seaside resort on Germany's Baltic coast in the town of Prora has been turned -- after decades of disuse and decay -- into one of the country's largest youth hostels.

Yet initial advertisements highlighting its Nazi past as the "World famous" Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude) project caused objections from local historians and led to a marketing U-turn, but not before the German media took notice.

Originally built as the world's biggest hotel, stretching along 4.5 km (3 miles) of one of Germany's best beaches with 10,000 rooms, it was never used as a holiday resort for the masses in World War Two or afterwards although it was used by the military.

As part of the Nazi's Strength through Joy programme, the resort's aim was to prepare up to 20,000 citizens for war through organized leisure.

The outbreak of World War Two put an abrupt end to its construction in 1939, yet even in its incomplete version it was one of the biggest Nazi building projects.

The opening of one of the site's parts as a youth hostel on Monday has also led extreme right-wing forums on the web to express their enthusiasm over the event, which attracted widespread media attention in Germany.

"The usage of the term 'world famous' in the advertisement is problematic," said Perke Kuehnel of the Documentation Center Prora, which chronicles the Nazi history of the site. She added that using the term showed a lack of historical sensitivity.

"Everyone involved is aware that the project needs to be handled in a sensible manner," Jochen Schmidt of the state agency for civic education told Reuters, adding that the particular sentence was more a question of detail.   Continued...

<p>A file picture taken July 12, 2005 shows the biggest hotel the world never saw - a forbidden hulk of 10,000 rooms built by German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as a holiday camp to ready the masses for war, stretched along three miles of one of Germany's best beaches in Prora on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>