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Binz is the largest seaside resort on the German island of Rügen. It is situated between the Prorer Wiek and the Schmachter See in the south-east of the island. To the north of Binz stretches the Schmale Heide (the "narrow heath"), a tongue of land which joins the Muttland region of Rügen to the Jasmund peninsula. The land to the south and east of Binz is hilly, reaching a height of over 100m above sea level.
The first mention of Binz (then called Byntze) is as far back as 1318. At that time, the settlement was centred around the current location of the Bahnhofstrasse and Rabenstrasse.
In Germany, sea bathing started to become popular in the 1870s, and so began Binz's rise to prominence. In 1870 itself, Binz had 80 visitors; in 1875 the first road connecting the village with the beach (Putbuser Strasse) was constructed; and in 1876 the first hotel was built. Major development began in 1888 with the founding of the "Aktiengesellschaft Ostseebad Binz". In 1895, the first stretch of narrow-gauge railway opened between Binz and Putbus.
In 1902 a 600m long pier was built, but it was destroyed by a storm on New Year's Night 1905. It was rebuilt in 1908, but in 1912 one span of the pier collapsed, causing the death of 17 people. This accident prompted the founding of the German Lifeguard Association (or DLRG).
In 1937 the construction of the KdF ("Strength Through Joy") resort at Prora began. It was planned to be Europe's largest seaside resort. The standard gauge railway station at Binz was constructed in 1938, and the line from Binz to the junction at Lietzow was opened in 1939. During the winter of 1942 the pier was again destroyed, this time by ice.
In 1950, the construction of the Prora complex was completed, and the buildings were used as barracks for the Volkspolizei (People's Police). Later, they were used to house the Nationale Volksarmee (National People's Army). The railway line between Binz and Lietzow was re-opened in 1952.
In 1953, the government of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), in which Binz was then situated, initiated "Aktion Rose". This was the name of the programme under which privately-owned hotels, and guest houses were taken into social ownership. These businesses were transferred to the FDGB (the federal body of the East German trade unions), and included in their program of cheap holidays for union members.
After 1972, more holiday centers were built for the FDGB. Between the 1950s and 1985 estates of flats typical of the DDR ("Plattenbau")were built both to the north and west of the town.
The Years Since 1990: Following the reunification of Germany, Binz has undergone substantial change. Many of the villas were returned to their previous owners, and the town was restored and modernised. The former FDGB holiday centres were privatised and renovated. In 1994, a new pier, 370 metres long, was opened.
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