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Out of history and into happier days
publication date: Feb 13, 2017
author/source: Glen Smale
With the short days, long nights and low temperatures a feature of our daily routine, my mind meandered back to the warmer days of September at the Baltic Sea, writes Glen Smale.
We had travelled to Germany to attend our son’s wedding in Hamburg, but the week before the wedding, our family invited us to spend a week with them on the island of Rügen. The island is located not far off the coast of northern Germany, and roughly south-east of Copenhagen. From Hamburg, we travelled almost due east through Rostock, and then in a north-easterly direction to Rügen, and the idyllic seaside town of Binz.
This region used to fall within East Germany, and the area still shows some signs of neglect and inactivity. Unbeknown to me, the island of Rügen was the place chosen by Hitler for the construction of his ambitious national holiday resort, Prora, where up to 20,000 Germans would be able to enjoy their annual holidays. The holiday resort was never finished, as he had to divert his resources to the War effort. Just to the south of the island was the top-secret site of Peenemünde from which Hitler launched his V1 and V2 rockets, so this whole region has huge historic significance.
The Prora resort fell into the hands of the Soviets after the War, but then it was later used by the communist East German government as a military camp. Over the years, various buildings were used for a variety of different purposes but it was only in the noughties that sections of the building began to be sold off individually for redevelopment and holiday use.
It is ironic that what started out as a socialist dream, has today been converted into a capitalist landmark. Although it has a long way to go, because the site is truly huge, the momentum is gaining pace, and will no doubt be very attractive once finished.
What was so pleasant, and unusual, was that the September weather was unseasonably warm and swimming in the Baltic became a distinct possibility, although not a reality. That activity was limited to the picturesque pool at the holiday flats. It was while walking around this popular holiday town, that a number of different motor vehicles caught my eye. I have included a few here for your enjoyment.
What we saw may surprise you
On the white beach of Binz, this Jeep Grand Cherokee was used to tow the hire canoes to/from the beach.
Home from home – imagine my surprise at seeing a London taxi cruising the boulevards of Rügen.
The successes of capitalism, this Porsche 911 Carrera 4 stands in stark contrast to Hitler’s socialist ideals for the vast Prora complex.
Visiting from Sweden was this Skoda Octavia Estate, complete with additional driving lights to pick up those wandering reindeer at night.
This VW Kübelwagen is the ideal runabout for the coastal lifestyle on Rügen.
Love them or hate them, the Trabant is an icon from an earlier time. This one we spotted in the (previously East German) town of Rostock on our way back to Hamburg.
© Words and photos by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale