Nazi buildings legacy becomes an increasing concern in Germany

A huge tourist resort sponsored and built during Hitler’s leadership of Germany has highlighted growing concerns about what to do with Germany’s ailing Nazi buildings legacy.

The site that has provoked the debate is built at Prora, which is a beach resort on the German island of Rügen on the Baltic Sea. It was built between 1936 and 1939 by the Nazis using Polish workmen. The complex is a huge 10,000 room tourist vision that Hitler believed would be the ideal holiday destination for his Aryan race. It was built as part of the Nazi’s ‘Strength Through Joy’ Project.

Now, as with many other dilapidated and decaying Nazi site and buildings, investors have come in to redevelop the complex exactly for the same use that they were originally intended – tourism.

The complex was never completed as Germany went to war before it could be finished. Later after reunification, it was used for a period by East German soldiers but has been left vacant ever since. The new redevelopment will use the original structure to house luxury beach-front apartments, as well as a new hotel and spa.

Opponents of the redevelopment state that not only is it making money out of a Nazi building, it is also bringing their original vision to fruition as a tourist destination for the German people. They believe that it trivialises what the Nazis did and affirms their actions.

After World War II, some Nazi buildings were preserved as a warning to what the Nazi regime did, whilst other buildings were transformed for other uses. Opponents are clear that they believe it isn’t right for Nazi buildings to be reused for commercial projects, or to smear what happened during Hitler’s rule, The Guardian reports.

Another example is that of a new mall which has been built in Berlin on the site of, what was before the war, a Jewish department. But when the Nazis came to power, the store was taken from the Jewish owners, and they fled. Now the new mall is opening referencing the original Jewish store without mentioning how it was relinquished from them by the Nazis and never returned to the original owners.

In a region of West Germany, a training ground built by the Nazis is being renovated as a convention centre. There are calls to let the Nazi buildings simply be left to ruin or to tear them down.

The first owners of the Prora site’s luxury holiday homes are said to begin moving in during summer 2015. The German government is also subsidising sales to German income tax payers, who will be able to receive tax credits.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE