Research and Documentation

Since its inception, the PRORA CENTRE has conducted on-going research on the history of Prora and the region in the National Socialist and GDR eras, the results of which are incorporated into educational projects and in conceptualising new exhibitions.
In addition to archival and library research, the PRORA CENTRE also uses oral history, such as eyewitness testimonials.
Areas of thematic focus within research include topics such as the history of the construction soldiers in Prora during the GDR era, the regional history of Prora, Rügen and Mecklenburg Vorpommern during the National Socialist period, as well as a focus on the lives of Jews in the region.
In particular, the institution receives support for its scientific work through the advisory committee’s renowned scientists.

You are an eyewitness of a certain time; you want to tell your story, or have Prora-related historical documents and memorabilia that you would like to make available for research purposes? We would be very happy to hear from you!

Contact >>

Construction soldiers

In the 1980s several thousand construction solders, who were the GDR’s conscientious objectors, were stationed in the northern part of Prora in block 5. They were used for the construction of the railway ferry terminal in Mukran. In several interview projects since 2012, the PRORA CENTRE has interviewed former Prora construction soldiers in order to learn more about their lives, their observations and experiences, as well as their current perspective on things. We would very much like to be in contact with the former construction soldiers of Prora!

Prora military base

In the time of the GDR, Prora was one of the largest military bases in the country. The history of the Barracked People’s Police (KVP) and the National People’s Army (NVA) in Prora is reflected in its transition from a place with operational units to a military training location. Former KVP and NVA members who served militarily have also been interviewed by the PRORA CENTRE for interview projects since 2012. Did you serve in the KVP in Prora, were you a draftee, a regular soldier or a supervisor of construction soldiers in Prora? We would be happy to hear from you! Contact >>

National Socialist era

The former “KdF Rügen seaside resort” is one of the greatest architectural legacies of the National Socialist era. Despite extensive research, there is still a need for additional sources, such as photographic material, documents, or other memorabilia. Life stories or first and second hand accounts are particularly valuable. For example, were you or family members in Prora during the construction phase? Do you perhaps have photos or newspapers from that time? Since forced labourers were used in Prora, we are also interested in reports and documents in this subject area. You may also be able to provide us with additional information about the training of police battalions or naval intelligence assistants. We would be very happy to hear from you! Contact >>

Jewish life

In order to expand research into Jewish life in the region, the PRORA CENTRE is not only concerned with the National Socialist era, but also with the time periods before and after. We are also looking for eyewitnesses in this subject area. We welcome all information and sources on this topic. Contact >>

Current research projects

In 2017 the PRORA CENTRE, with the support of the state commissioner for Mecklenburg Vorpommern regarding documents of the State Security Service in the former GDR, carried out an interview project with four former construction soldiers stationed in Prora from 1985 to 1986. The interviews were recorded in audio and video formats and complement the PRORA CENTRE’S previously existing Prora military base eyewitness archives, which since 2012, have been set up for several research projects. The aim of the project is not only to carry out more interviews, but to set up a system for archiving all existing eyewitness interviews as well.

Completed projects

Here is a selection of our projects that have been funded by external partners in recent years:

2016 - Extension of the current eyewitness archive of the Prora military base

(funded by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship)
The PRORA CENTRE conducted 20 additional interviews with former site employees to supplement the existing eyewitness archive of the Prora military base. In addition, a workshop was held with teacher training course students from the University of Greifswald history department, in which they worked on selected interviews. The interviews were documented and digitised by a filmmaker.

2013/14 - Development of the ``Opposition and resistance - Construction soldiers in Prora 1964-1989/90`` exhibition

(funded by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship and the state commissioner for Mecklenburg Vorpommern regarding documents of the State Security Service in the former GDR in Mecklenburg Vorpommern)
This exhibition, which opened in Prora in 2014 and was on tour until early 2016, tells the story of the construction soldiers, the conscientious objectors who were stationed in Prora from 1964-1989/90.
Starting in 1982, Prora became the largest site for construction soldiers in the GDR. In addition to archival research, the results of extensive eyewitness interviews from the year 2012 were incorporated.
Photos and additional information from the construction soldiers as well as video and audio sequences from the aforementioned project are contained in the exhibition. A conference on the history of the conscientious objectors and their procurement complemented the project.

The results of this conference were incorporated into the work of the PRORA CENTRE.
This PRORA CENTRE exhibition was recognised within the scope of the competition “25 Years Since the Fall of the Wall:
Remembering History – Shaping the Present” and received a prize for outstanding commitment to mediating the peaceful revolution and the fall of the wall by the Federal Agency for Civic Education on December 9, 2014 in Berlin.

2012 - Interview project on the Prora military base

(funded by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship and the state commissioner for Mecklenburg Vorpommern regarding documents of the State Security Service in the former GDR in Mecklenburg Vorpommern)
The extensive interview project, which included 32 biographical interviews with former members of the Prora military base, and 16 interviews with former construction soldiers, formed the basis of the PRORA CENTRE’S eyewitness archive. Insights from a conference that dealt with handling eyewitness interviews, their presentation and their added value were integrated into the work of the PRORA CENTRE.

2010/11 – German-Polish research project Places of National Socialist forced labour from Poland, in Stralsund and Stagard (1939-1945)

(funded by the EU project INTERREG 4a, the European Social Fund and the State Center for Political Education MV)
The German-Polish project “Places of National Socialist Forced Labour from Poland, in Stralsund and Stargard (1939-1945)” included the joint reconstruction of the topography of National Socialist forced labour in the cities of Stralsund and Stargard Szczeciński. The two partners, the Muzeum Stargard (Stargard) and the PRORA CENTRE (Stralsund), decided to bring both cities’ history of forced labour out of obscurity, as well as create a reference point in the sphere of public conversation and remembrance of this time. In addition to the development of a brochure in German and Polish with the same name, a workshop was held in Stralsund (in March 2010) and a presentation of the brochure was done in Stralsund and in Stargard Szczeciński (November/December 2011).

2009/10 school project: Jewish life in Rügen

(funded by the Leo-Baeck-Programme, the European Social Fund and the State Center for Political Education MV)
Today there is no Jewish community in Stralsund or Rügen, the closest one is in Rostock. In 2008 a new synagogue was inaugurated in Schwerin. As part of the project “Jewish life on Rügen and in Stralsund” six students from the Ernst Moritz Arndt High School 12th grade class in Bergen, Rügen, discovered that there used to be a Jewish community in Stralsund. They worked and researched six different topics regarding Jewish life in their region. They were able to incorporate the results of their work into their Abitur grade as a special learning achievement. The project result was the PRORA CENTRE’S first scientific volume, with the abbreviated results of the project participants.

2009 German-Russian youth project: Dwasieden - Faces of a district - 1945

(funded by the local action plan of Sassnitz within the federal program “Diversity is good”)
In this extracurricular project Sassnitz regional school students dealt with the history of the city of Sassnitz in 1945. On March 6, 1945, the port of Sassnitz and parts of the city were bombed and over 1,000 people, including many refugees, were killed. During a German-Russian exchange in Sassnitz with students from the sister city of Kingisepp, the German participants led the Russian visitors to the harbour and cemeteries and shared their newly acquired knowledge about the history of their city.
All of the teenagers realised that the stories of their hometowns had parallel aspects: the Russian city of Kingisepp had been heavily destroyed by German troops in the period 1941-1944 during World War II, and the city of Sassnitz was bombed at the end of the war. The result of the project was the PRORA CENTRE’S third project newsletter, “Dwasieden – Faces of a district – 1945”. The newsletter is written in German and Russian.

2008/09 German-Russian youth project: Gollnow – Goleniów. The double banishment of Germans and the Polish -1945-1948

(funded by the programme Europeans for Peace as part of the Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future, EVZ)
Six German and six Polish young people from the island of Rügen and the city of Goleniów had group discussions and talked about the history of the double banishment of Germans and Poles. There were two project meetings, one in Rügen and one in Goleniów. The eyewitness interviews done by the young people in Germany were of former residents of the city of Gollnow, which was German at that time. Today’s inhabitants of the now Polish city of Goleniów, who came from eastern Poland, were also interviewed. The result of these exchange weeks was a project paper with the title of the project in German and Polish. In addition a project film was created based on the recorded eyewitness interviews.
The PRORA CENTRE was honoured by the EVZ for this project as one of six nationwide exemplary projects in 2008/09.

2007/08 German-Swedish school project: Sweden and Germany – Interrelations during the centuries

(promoted by the State Center for Political Education MV)
Students from the Ernst Moritz Arndt High School in Bergen, Rügen and the Calmare Internationella Skola (CIS) in Kalmar met in two meeting exchanges to work on the shared history of Sweden and the island of Rügen. Both groups conducted research on various topics in the run-up to the meetings and prepared the first PRORA CENTRE project newsletter in English. The project participants focused their content on four main topics: Middle ages/Hanseatic league, 17th and 18th centuries, the time of National Socialism as well as post 1945.

2005/07 school project: Bergen during National Socialism

(funded by the programme Democracy Learning and Living of the Bund-Länder Commission)
In a course project lasting one-and-a-half years 14 upper age-group students from the Ernst Moritz Arndt High School in Bergen, Rügen dealt with the history of the place of their school in the time of National Socialism.
They chose their own topics and worked in six working groups to create a PowerPoint® presentation entitled “Bergen during National Socialism”, which they presented to event participants in the “Politics and History” action area at the PRORA CENTRE’s Prora06 youth event.
In addition, 10 pupils decided to further elaborate on the large city guide “Bergen during National Socialism (1933-1945)” based on previous research. The result of the project was a brochure with remarkable contributions from the student workshop. Based on the research work, the PRORA CENTRE, along with the Bergen city council and Cologne-based artist Gunter Demnig, was able to lay two stone plaques, or “stumbling blocks” at Markt 19 in Bergen for Albert Noack and his sister Ida Noack, who were persecuted for being Jewish.
The PRORA CENTRE was recognised with an award in 2007 for publication of the brochure “Bergen during National Socialism (1933-1945), A city guide” by the Alliance for Democracy and Tolerance – Against Extremism and Violence.

2003/05 school exhibition project: Prora - more than just a pretty beach, 1933-46

(funded by the CIVITAS programme of the Democratic Youth Foundation, Aktion Mensch, the Democracy Learning and Living Programme of the Bund-Länder Commission)
Students from the Ernst Moritz Arndt High School in Bergen spent one-and-a-half years doing a course project regarding the National Socialist history story of Prora, the “Strength through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF) – seaside resort Rügen”. The 15 students were divided into six working groups and worked on different topics, this included, for example, the planning of the seaside resort, the offerings of the National Socialist holiday organisation “Strength through Joy”, and the use of the facility during the war.
A look at the neighbouring town of Binz, in which the National Socialists expropriated the Jewish owners of the spa as part of the plan of “Aryanization”, was also included in the exhibition. Likewise, the so-called bath antisemitism which already existed around the year 1900, was taken into consideration. As part of the project, the PRORA CENTRE invited eyewitnesses of the time who could provide important information in each subject area. In January 2005 the opening of the exhibition took place in the high school in Bergen, after which it went on tour throughout Mecklenburg Vorpommern. Today the PRORA CENTRE has this exhibition in its permanent exhibition display. The exhibition project was selected as part of the programme Democracy Learning and Living as a practical example for oral history, or narrated history, in Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

2003/2004 school project: A signpost for Prora. Historical Tour

(funded by the CIVITAS programme of the Democratic Youth Foundation)
During the time when Prora still had the GDR barracks and had areas, in the north of the site especially, that were not used, there was an idea for a project to turn the buildings that were originally intended for the “Strength through Joy (KdF) Seebad Rügen” into a “signpost for Prora”. Ninth grade students of the Binz Regional School focused on the plan for the “seaside resort for 20,000”, and during work on their project they obtained comprehensive information and materials about the National Socialist ideology and politics. The result of the project was a brochure done in 2010 in German and English as part of the 3rd edition of a PRORA CENTRE publication. The German edition is now out of print. The link below leads to the 1st edition, which is still available on loan. http://www.migration-online.de/biblio.aWQ9ODc3.html

2002/2003 school project: Prora during World War II (1939-1945)

(funded by the CIVITAS programme of the Democratic Youth Foundation)
In working groups, tenth grade students at the Binz Regional School developed a brochure in which they examined the history of the Prora site and simultaneously established overall context within the general wartime German history. The texts, materials and photos provided by the PRORA CENTRE formed the basis of their research and for the written texts. This brochure has been out of print for many years. The link below leads to the brochure, which is still available on loan. http://www.migration-online.de/biblio.aWQ9ODc2.html

Publications

At present we have primarily German-language literature. An overview of our publications is available in German.