Hotel Hitler

23 Dec, 2004 | HistoryTdpTravel

Recently the BBC reported that the giant Rossiya Hotel in Moscow was to be demolished. They stated that the Rossiya was the world's biggest when it was built in the 1960's. Well, I'm afraid they were a little off. You see, I remember catching the tale-end of a program on the Seebad Prora Hotel, which was built by the Nazis between 1936 and 1939. The Rossiya had 3,000 rooms, no small number, but the Prora had 11,000. You could argue that the Prora is actually a complex rather than a hotel, though it's building are all joined together to form a single chain, a chain that stretches for three miles. That's right, I said three miles (or 4.5Km if you prefer). It takes an hour to walk from one end to the other.

The hotel was built by the German Labour Front and Strength Through Joy, Nazi Germany's answer to Butlins. Aside from the rooms, which all came with central heating and ensuite wash basins (this is the 30s remember), the complex also housed a cinema, a school and a hospital, not to mention a meeting hall which could hold the 20,000 visitors.

Ironically, it was never really used as Hitler invaded Poland to kick-off WWII before it was completed. It's been used as barracks, and other things, but now seems to house a lot of artists.

Lord only knows why the place has survived this long and wasn't demolished, it's not the prettiest place you've ever seen, but for shear scale, not much comes close. The good news is (or bad, depending on how you look at it), is that some German investers have bought the place with the idea of turning it into a sport and leisure centre, with a 1,200-bed hostel, football stadium, marina, and golf course.

I think it's good it will live on, to show what can happen when large numbers of people work together to achieve things, even the modern world can produce it's marvels. Better still, as one article puts it: an old East German soldier told me as we walked along the endless corridors, such a cosmopolitan solution would surely have Hitler revolving in his grave.