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Tempelhof airport

The Tempelhof airport was planned by the architect Ernst Sagebiel and built from 1937 until 1941. At the time of its completion, it was thought to be the worlds second largest building. Nowadays, featuring extensive subterranean installations, it is in use as a regional airport and also houses many companies.

The airport was part of Albert Speer's (Hitler's main architect) plans for the German capital. According to Hitler's ideas, Berlin was to become the capital of Europe and be renamed “Germania” by 1950, with Tempelhof being the continent's main airport. In reality, however, its departure halls were only completed after the Second World War. During the war, when the building was used for arms production, air traffic ran via the old Tempelhof airport, located at the site of the current runway.

The public has often got a false impression of the real size of the airport's underground structures. This has to do do with the awkward nature of the terrain. The administrative buildings and some of the hangars had cellars installed which were converted into bunkers during the war. Drawings on the walls in the style of the famous cartoonist Wilhelm Busch indicate that they were used as “mother and child”-bunkers.

A railway track runs parallel to the hangars and passes under the main hall. During the war, combat airplanes were built there. The tunnel can be reached via the two entrances of the postal service to the left and right of the main hall. In order not to depend on the city's infrastructure, a waterwork with two large storage tanks was constructed under the Columbiadamm gardens. In addition, a power plant was built in the cellars of the side wing. Supply corridors with an added length of 5 kilometres exist under all parts of the building. One of the special features of the airport is a bunker which can be found under the Columbiadamm gardens. When Soviet forces blew up the access door in 1945, it burnt out completely. Another bunker in the vicinity is remarkable due to its special architectural features. The US forces had installed a command centre there during their exercises in the 1980s.

Facts 

Built: 1937–1941
Size: Length about 5 kilometres
Purpose: Supply corridors, bunker, waterworks, railway tunnel
Condition: Intact, accessible, but in parts not open to the public

Author: Dietmar ArnoldStatus: 15.09.08 Top