In addition to demonstrating the wealth and technological superiority of the Reich, the new airport was to become one of the cornerstones of a new Berlin, to be renamed Germania. The plan was for thousands of grungy old plebeian apartments and commercial buildings to be razed and replaced with monumental architecture. In the late-1930s, wholesale building demolition began, and some construction started, including the new airport. But by 1940, the war intervened, money and manpower were siphoned away to the war effort, and Germania never came to fruition.
The broad open site where Tempenhof is located had been used for aviation since the beginning of the 20th century. Orville and Wilbur Wright demonstrated their mechanized flying machine on the Tempelhof fair ground in 1909. The Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg web page has a Tempelhof timeline. A modest terminal building was built in 1927, and this older building continued to serve as the commercial airport through World War II. Amazingly, Lufthansa continued to fly passengers out of Berlin until April 1945, just days before the end of the war.
|Main entry hall of Tempelhof airport, in use until 2008.|
During the war, the Tempelhof suffered very little bomb damage. Our guide said the likely reason is the Allies knew they would need an airfield after victory, so they made sure to not bomb the site. Initially in 1945, the Soviets occupied Tempenhof. An explosion of mysterious origin destroyed the roof of the main entrance hall. Therefore, the roof you see in the first photograph is post-war and about 3 m lower than the original.
The office and administration buildings were built in the severe style popular in Nazi architecture. They were massive and purposeful, intended to portray power and permanence. Notice in the second photograph, part of the facade is clean. Our tour guide told us that a portion of the film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, was filmed here. The film crew cleaned part of the facade to make it look fresh, but neglected to clean the rest of the wall.
State Department Office of the Historian, "It also transformed Berlin, once equated with Prussian militarism and Nazism, into a symbol of democracy and freedom in the fight against Communism."
The photograph above is titled, "U.S. Navy Douglas R4D and U.S. Air Force C-47 aircraft unload at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift. The first aircraft is a C-47A-90-DL (s/n 43-15672)." from U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation, photo No. 2000.043.012 (in the public domain).
But the concerts are on hold. An organization that helps refugees has rented (or used) sections of the former hangars to house hundreds of Middle Eastern refugees from. They put up temporary walls and bunk beds; I am not sure about food services or sanitation. A New York Times article describes this new phase of the airport's evolving history.
Berlin has been building a new Berlin Brandenburg Airport adjacent to the existing Schönefeld Airport. The new Brandenburg has cost €5.4 billion, is delayed, and has been plagued by cost overruns, significant technical issues, construction flaws, bankruptcies, and corruption. Our guide said the new terminal may need to be torn down and totally replaced at a cost of more than € 1 billion! Pity they can't reuse Tempelhof.
2013 Vanity Fair article outlines how the The National Trust for Historic Preservation and other preservationists tried to save the Worldport, but the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was uninterested. The photograph above is from 2013, when I was lucky enough to land at Kennedy while demolition was underway. (I also flew out of Idlewild in 1962, but I was too young to care about architecture.)
Photographs at Tempelhof taken with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera with 14mm and 18-55mm Fuji lenses.