The train station
“With God and steam across the island“: With this inscription, the first train arrived at the Crampas/Sassnitz station on July 1st, 1891. Already in the 1860s there had been plans to operate a railway between Stralsund and Sassnitz. Until 1883, the train ended in Bergen. It was certain that the future port would also have to be connected to the railway system. Therefore, the track’s further development had already been decided – yet, its location still needed to be agreed on. Arkona offered a lot of advantages for the shipping traffic, but it was the far more expensive option. Since 1889, a sheltered harbour was being built in Crampas/Sassnitz, a main reason for the railway being constructed up to that town.
Already at the railway’s opening it was clear, that the train station Crampas/Sassnitz could not stay the railway’s last stop for long, but that a future construction leading up to the port was unavoidable. In the fall of 1891, the mail steamer FREYA made a successful test journey from Sassnitz to Trelleborg, which eventually led to the development of a regular steamship line. Yet, before this service was put into operation, the port had to be connected to the railway line. With an incline of 27% and a length of 2 kilometers, this track, known as the „Hafenbahn” (harbour track), was one of the steepest railroad lines in Europe. It was in use from 1897 until 1998, when the ferry traffic and, with it, the railway loading was moved to the ferry port of Mukran.
The community square
Until the second half of the 19th century, Crampas remained what it had been since the Middle Ages: a small, insignificant farming village. But even here, as in the neighbouring Sassnitz commune, for at least three months a year tourism brought some life to the village. After all, statistics mention five bathing guests visiting Crampas in 1858. Although tourism led to increased building activities, they did not reach the same level as in Sassnitz. The heydey of Crampas was mainly a consequence of the improved infrastructure. For example, a train station, a port and a power plant were located on Crampas territory. Furthermore, Crampas benefitted from high tax revenues. When, in 1906, Crampas merged with the unpopular neighbouring town of Sassnitz to become one single commune of the same name, Crampas had 1,400 inhabitants, Sassnitz only 500.
Crampas community only had a small village square in the eastern part of the original settlement; a real village center was never developed. This small area was traversed by a stream just like the market square in Sassnitz. As the Crampas stream, coming down from the Stubnitz meandered through the entire village, it made sense to install a public laundry place. Information boards, a water pump as well as, a bit to the side, two ovens completed the picture of the village square.
The old power plant
The power plant was established by constructor Carl Galitz on his building yard in Crampas in 1896. It was Western Pomerania’s first private power plant generating electricity for the community. Prior to its construction, the villa and hotel owners of both communities had to commit themselves to take delivery of 600 supply points. In contrast to Crampas, where businessman Alexander Brand took care of the power line installation, the community in Sassnitz had to pay for the installation on their territory.
Already in 1902, 5,000 supply points had been connected. Following the acquisition of the „Galitzsche Elektrizitätswerk” power plant by the Berlin based AEG company, a complete reconstruction took place. In early 1909, the new complex started its operation and 10 years later it was sold to the community of Sassnitz. In 1926, Sassnitz was connected to the national main grid. Still, the power plant produced its own electricity until the 1950s, before its machines were removed and the buildings used as workshops by electrical engineering businesses.
At the end of the 1990s, the vacant building was renovated in line with historical preservation practices and transformed into a socio-cultural center and affiliated hostel.
One school, two villages
“Subjects taught were religious education, writing and mathematics and lessons only took place in autumn and winter. Of all school-aged children only those went to school who had the time and felt like it“: This is how Sassnitz’s local historian, Max Koch, described the school situation prevailing at the beginning of the 19th century. In fact, school attendance was very sporadic far into the 19th century. After children having been taught in the barn of Crampas’s farmer Wichmann until the 1840s, a small school was built on a free field, also on Crampas territory.
The advancing development of both villages also led to increasing amounts of children. Thus, in 1892, a new school building with two classrooms and two apartments for teachers was built on the Stubbenkammerstrasse. Only a few years later this proved to be insufficient, again. In 1899, therefore, a northern extension was added to the school. It was designed in the same style as the existing building. However, the following decades were marked by a lack of space and the building of shacks was the main approach to resolve this problem. Only after World War II, large new school buildings were constructed. School operations at the former community school stopped in 2008.
From the Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century, the villages Crampas and Sassnitz belonged to the parish of Sagard. Therefore, all church services such as worships, baptisms, marriages, confirmations and funerals took place in Sagard. At funerals, people relied on their neighbours’ help: women helped washing and dressing the dead body while men built the casket. It was also a matter of honor for every resident to escort the deceased to Sagard.
The first service for the villages Crampas and Sassnitz was held on July 14th, 1867 at the foot of the „Fahrnberg” hill. Offerings collected from tourists were used to meet the priest’s travel expenses. The services were usually held in the open but with bad weather they were moved to the dining room of the „Zum Fahrnberg” hotel to avoid interruptions. In 1868, an association was founded with the goal to collect money for the building of a church. Plans to build a wooden church in a Nordic design did not meet much approval, so it was decided to build a church in a neo-Gothic style. After three years of construction, the St. Johannis church, situated between the two villages Crampas and Sassnitz, was inaugurated on July 24th, 1883. The tense relationship between the two villages at the end of the 19th century, mainly caused by the boom in tourism, could easily be seen by the choice of seats during services – inhabitants of Crampas seated themselves in the Western part, inhabitants of Sassnitz in the Eastern part of the church.
A home for sailors
In 1886, while travelling on Rügen, Adeline countess von Schimmelmann witnessed in Göhren, at that time a spa town of little importance, nonlocal fishermen trying in vain to buy food from locals. This made her decide to establish a home for such fishermen, hated for competitive reasons and often hitting the bottle while being far away from home and their mostly very poor families.
This house, built in 1891, was once one of the Christian sailor’s homes established by countess von Schimmelmann – offering food, books and games for the fishermen. In 1890, a sup- porting association was founded which later took over, among others, this institution in Crampas. After a parting of the ways between the association and the countess von Schimmelmann, she often criticized the work of the association in her own publication series. For example, she accused the later operators of the Crampas’s sailor’s home of turning the home into “a nice hotel for bathing guests” – in fact, since 1906 it appeared under the name of „Restaurant und Logierhaus Seemannsheim“.
Surely, its most famous owner was Germany´s first commercial diver, David Lunck. As „Haus Seeadler” it had been the home of the Sassnitz steamboat society in the 1920s, before the house was converted into a residential building.
For about 10 years, it was the most renowned hotel in Crampas and it was supposed to be the cultural center of a brand new exclusive residential area: the hotel „Zum Walfisch“. The intensive development of tourism that took place in Sassnitz did not reach the same level in Crampas. This is why, apart from the construction of the „Walfisch“, only a fraction of what had been planned was eventually carried out. Built by a consortium from Stralsund, it was opened on July 8th, 1873 by the hotel owner Hermann Hintze. Shortly thereafter, a glamorous opening concert was held featuring the Ducal Saxonian Court Pianist Bratfisch and the opera singer Milder.
Hotels and pensions were not built to last. Holiday guests would mainly visit during the summer months so that the buildings were vacant in the off-season. The “life expectancy” of a villa was around 60 years. Already 10 years after its opening, the „Walfisch” had to be extensively renovated.
In the 1890s, the house was named „Strandhof” and it served as a residential building until the 1990s. Due to poor construction and insufficient renovation, the condition of the building deteriorated significantly throughout the decades. In 1998, the old „Walfisch” was demolished.
One of the first – Villa Meereswelle
Just like its neighbouring town, Sassnitz, Crampas also faced a great future as a Baltic resort. Building plots were even better than in Sassnitz, allowing extensive and generous buildings to be constructed and, therefore, chances looked good for Crampas’ tourism to even overtake its neigbouring commune. In 1872, a consortium consisting of Messrs. Seitz, Kindt, Teichen and Walter from Stralsund got together. It was planned to build 15 to 20 villas on the Crampas cliff, in different architectural styles and in a staggered alignment, thus allowing an unobstructed view as well as a spa house with a big hall. As, in the beginning, Crampas’ inhabitants were not interested in tourism, these gentlemen from Stralsund became the promoters of the “Baltic resort Crampas”. At their own expense they built swimming baths on the beach and kept the profits for themselves. However, considerable amounts of taxes were paid into the Crampas municipal fund.
Villa „Meereswelle” has hardly changed through the centuries and it is an example of the ambitious building project of which only a fraction was executed, showing the exuberant euphoria of the „Gründerzeit”. Being constructed in 1873, „Meereswelle” is older than most of the other villas in the old part of Sassnitz.
Made of wood
”The building will be a half-timbered construction, constructed partly with wooden walls, partly with bricks and covered with roofing felt. There are no plans for the installation of a heating system. Only the kitchen will be equipped with a solid chimney and firewalls.” This extract of master-carpenter Walter’s building application for the construction of a “Guesthouse („Logierhaus”) for bathing guests in Crampas” of 1881 shows, that guest- houses were built in the cheapest possible way, being only meant to make a profit for a few decades. It is, therefore, quite remarkable, that some of these buildings existed for more than 100 years.
There are a few anecdotes concerning the building’s history. The most famous one connects its construction to the castle in the nearby Dwasieden forest in the present western part of the town: After the construction of the Dwasieden castle, a large quantity of wood was left over. Master-carpenter Walter, who had taken part in the castle’s construction, spontaneously built his „Villa Walter” using that wood. The building had be known under that name until the 1890s, when it was named after a brother of Emperor Wilhelm II.: ”Prince Heinrich of Prussia” who, in fact, had once been a house guest.
After it had served as a hospital for a short time during World War I, it was henceforth used as a residential building for up to 16 families. In Sassnitz, the building was simply known as ”Prince-Heinrich-House“. It was demolished in 1999.
The ladies´ hotel
While some pensions and hotels changed their owners frequently, there were also buildings remaining family-owned for a long time: The hotel „Geschwister Koch” is one of them.
The property, owned by the local family Koch, was situated like an enclave amidst the land of the Stralsund consortium, which wanted to build its own exclusive residential district in this part of Crampas. Around 1880, Fritz Koch was already constructing a guesthouse at this place. After the early death of their father, above all his three daughters Friederike, Marie and Caroline showed a strong business sense and finally gave the house its name „Geschwister Koch“. During the next decades, further extensions made the structure one of the biggest hotels in town. Since the mid-1930s, its huge hall had been used as a cinema named „Rio Lichtspiele” which enjoyed great popularity. Like most other hotels and guest- houses in Sassnitz, this hotel was later also used as a residential building. The cinema was closed at the end of the 1950s and its hall was used for storage. At the same time, the building was handed over to the church community of Sassnitz.
Shortly after the political change in 1991, the restoration and renovation of the battered building began, turning it into a multi-generation house. The „Grundtvighaus” was named after the Danish writer and theologian Frederik Grundtvig and, especially since the cinema’s reopening in 2000, it has become a popular contact point for young and old, both visitors and locals.