The history of the Tempelhof airport
Tempelhof airport is closed since 2008, but still enough reason for us to write down the moving story from Tempelhof airport.
The people who departed from this airport before closing in October 2008, can certainly sympathise with this feeling of good memory:
The very first impression is by far different from other airports. The building is deep gray and raises very monumental. If you entered the lobby, you would know immediately that this airport must have an extensive history.
Tempelhof was before 1923 an airfield, where small air shows were held. Mr Wright made here for example in 1909 his experimental flight demonstrations: for this time it was something spectacular.
The former airport is centrally located in Berlin and was opened in 1923. At first it was a small airport. The plan was to allow just less than 100 takeoffs and landings a year, but quickly it turned out that the area would not be enough. An expansion took place, and in 1927 the first phase was completed successfully. Revolutionary was that the airport was connected to the public transport network (underground).
As early as 1930 another request for extending the airport was submitted. It was planned that 4-5 million passengers a year would pass the grounds. Adolf Hitler referred in his project to a huge building. His aim was to build the largest airport in Europe.
In 1939 Hermann Goering ordered an interruption of construction work, as part of the airport area should be used for building air bombers. At that time there were countless underground tunnels built by forced labor or other prisoners of war to be used to supply the airport. In addition, many airport tunnels were used in the Second World War as an air raid shelter.
Furthermore on the ground of the airport was a prison, which was used in 1933 as a concentration camp.
In 1941, another extension of the airport was completed. At that time it was the largest building in area meters worldwide. The total length was almost 1.2 kilometers.
At the end of the war, Hitler ordered to blow up the airport. This plan was not implemented because the Red Army occupied the airport in April 1945. The airport was not spared from the war though, much had been destroyed, including the underground bunkers and numerous film documentary material.
After the war the airport was used as a new US military base. During the Berlin Airlift (June 1948 until May 1949) West Berlin was supplied with food through planes who landed at Tempelhof. The famous "Candy Bomber" started almost every minute here. This name was given lovingly by Berlin children, and it originates from the pilots who threw off some candy on little parachutes while approaching the airport . Witnesses report today, how great the joy was when one could catch such a "parachute".
It was not until 1951 that the airport was used again for transport. The regular air traffic was relocated to Tegel airport and in 1975, Tempelhof airport was reopened to small aircraft for civil aviation.
After much discussion and public voting, the airport was closed in 2008. Since then "Tempelhof Field" is freely accessible for everyone. Berlin resident and tourists use it as a large park for picnics, sport and leisure activity of any kind.
You can visit the airport today. It offers very interesting guided tours.
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