Warnemünde, the beach resort at the mouth of the Warnow River, like much of this part of Europe, has risen and fallen with the tides of war and economic upheaval.
It dates back, as a mere fishing village, to about 1200.
Rostock would rise to great importance as one of the ports of the Hanseatic League.
And then it would become the home of some of the industrial might of Nazi Germany, including a major aircraft factory and port. Heinkel and Arado Flugzeugwerke grew out of the earlier aviation factories in the area.The Arado Ar 66 became one of the standard Luftwaffe trainers.
The firm also produced some of the Luftwaffe’s first fighter aircraft. Near the end of the war, Arado came up with the Ar-234, the first jet-powered bomber. Only a small number of the single-seat twin-engine plane were built, which was a good thing.
In their few sorties as bombers they proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. Not that they would have altered the outcome of the war, but they might have delayed its conclusion.
The jet, nicknamed Blitz or Lightning, was the last Luftwaffe plane to fly over England, in April 1945.
Until their liberation in April 1945 by the Soviet army, 1,012 slave laborers from Freiburg, a sub-camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria, worked at the Arado factory.
That made it a major target of Allied bombing, and it was seriously damaged in the war.
Warnemunde and Rostock were severely damaged in raids in 1942 and 1943 and again in 1945.
The attacks on Rostock, and more importantly the historic Hanseatic city of Lübeck not far away, enraged Hitler—if such a thing was possible and led in April 1942 to a series of German raids on historic cities in Britain beginning with Exeter and continuing to Bath, Norwich, York, and later Canterbury.
The bombings became known as the Baedeker raids because the Germans supposedly chose them by thumbing through a Baedeker travel guide book about England.
Following that, the Soviets swept in…stealing what they could and then bringing the drab grayness that landed throughout East Germany.
Warnemünde’s broad, sandy beaches are the largest on the German Baltic Sea coast, stretching about three kilometers or two miles.
It also has some pretty beachside homes, and all of the basic elements of a seaside resort including a promenade, outdoor restaurants, and tourist attractions.
There are three notable sights in Warnemünde:
Undressed bodies on the beach—some of whom you might wish would put on winter clothing or otherwise make themselves less apparent.
An historic lighthouse near the beach promenade, built in 1897.
And the Teepott, the nickname for one of the resorts most famous landmarks. It was built in the 1960s and is an appropriately odd example of East German architecture.
Today the Teepott holds a few restaurants and an exhibition hall.
Among the many to invade this area in earlier times were the French under Napoleon, who occupied the town for about a decade until 1813.
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher surrendered to the French after furious street fighting.
Von Blücher, who rose to the level of Prussian Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal) would live to fight another day, leading his army against Napoleon at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 with the Duke of Wellington.
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Any Mel Brooks fans out there? There have to be.
In the film Young Frankenstein, the great actress Cloris Leachman, a household servant in the home of Doctor Frankenstein…or should I say, Franken-steen.
Brooks never explained the joke, but everytime Frau Blucher appeared on screen we would hear the whinney of the Marshal’s horse.
Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher
Saint Mary’s Church Marienkirche, on Ziegenmarkt, is an imposing Brick Gothic structure that was first built in the 13th century.
Behind the high altar on the apse is an astronomical clock built in 1472 by a Nuremberg clockmaker.
It is the only Medieval clock of its kind still in working condition with its original clockworks.
The clock has three sections.
Every hour, the apostles circle around Jesus for a blessing; the last, Judas, is shut out by a clanging door.