The Baltic Sea Island was an important holiday area of the former GDR.
The island Rügen is populated since the Stone Age. This has been proved by discoveries made in the lagoon. Moreover you can find many stone monuments such as megalithic tombs and sacrificial stones which have survived into our time. The residents of Rügen used to belong to the East Germanic tribe of the “Rugier” from which the island’s name originated. From the beginning of the 7th century Rügen was part of the West-Slavic Empire of the “Ranen”. For a couple of centuries this tribe determined the history of the Baltic Sea region. Their fleet and the favorable geographical location built the basis for this supremacy.
The temple fortress Arkona was dedicated to the god Svantovit and gained importance far beyond the periphery of the empire of the “Ranen”. The Svantovit temple in the hill fort of Cape Arkona was destroyed in 1168 by the Danish king Waldemar I, this ended both the territorial as well as the religious independence of the “Ranen”. Rügen became a Danish principality which changed its face. Danish monasteries were formed and German colonists were brought into the country. The cultural element of the Slavs soon vanished and the “Ranen” merged into what we know now as the German nation. In addition to building up the population they formed new cities such as Stralsund.
In 1304 a storm devastated the island and flooded the headland between Mönchgut and Ruden. After the death of the last Slavic count Wizlaw III in 1325, Rügen found itself in successive wars until 1354. The end result was the handing over of possession to the Holy Roman Empire
In the centuries that followed, possession changed hands between Pomerania, Sweden, Prussia, Denmark and again back to Sweden. Even the French held possession over Rügen for a short period of time during the Napoleonic War. It wasn’t until 1818 that the disputes over Rügen were settled and the island became the Prussian province Pomerania. After the end of the Second World War Rügen became part of the GDR. The island was one of the most important holiday regions of the GDR. The FDGB (Federation of German Trade Unions) arranged the allocation of hotel stays, summer camps and camp sites.
Since the reunification the island of Rügen belongs to the province of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Tourism continues to be the biggest economic sector.