Makeover Planned for Hitler's Baltic Sea Hotel Colossus

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The windows are either broken or boarded up, the roof is leaking and the plaster is crumbling from the walls. But the monumental steel and concrete structure planned as a Nazi-era holiday complex has survived otherwise unscathed.

The gigantic building in the Baltic Sea resort of Prora on the island of Ruegen was part of Hitler's so-called "Strength Through Joy" program to keep Germans fit and healthy.

Never used by vacationers

It was to house 20,000 vacationers in 8,000 rooms as part of the Nazi program to make soldiers fit for war and workers strong for production.

No holiday-makers ever stayed at Prora. Work on the complex, which began in 1936, slowed in 1939 with the outbreak of war when Germany attacked Poland and was finally halted in 1943.

The only Germans to live in the half-built resort were refugees from bombed-out cities and those fleeing the invading Soviet Red Army. After the end of the war, the communist East German military used one of the five 550-meter (1,800-foot) blocks as a convalescence home.

The sweeping six-storey concrete complex is situated on one of Ruegen's most beautiful beaches and was closed to the public with barbed wire and guards armed with sub-machine guns.

Following German reunification in 1990 it was taken over by the federal government. Saddled with this unwelcome legacy, officials had been scratching their heads for years over what to do with Prora.

Now, 18 years after unification, a major reconstruction project is about to be launched to turn the site into a huge holiday complex.

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