Berlin Airlift Remembered

Patricia Cleveland-Peck visits Tempelhof which is about to close for ever as an airport.

Templehof will reach the end of its life as an airport by November. Its tiny duty free shop has already gone, its main restaurant is closed and few footsteps now echo down its long corridors and across its massive passenger hall. The tranquil atmosphere is nothing like that of any modern airport. Its traffic had been much reduced for several years, because its runways are too short for modern passenger jets. The last survivor of the golden age of city airports, like London’s Croydon Airport and Le Bourget in Paris, Tempelhof will have closed completely to air traffic and the whole massive complex will in due course be redeveloped.

When in 1923 it was decided that Berlin needed a larger airport to replace the one at Johannistal, the choice fell on an area to the east of Tempelhoferdamm previously used as a military training ground. The name Tempelhof comes from the Knights Templar, who settled south of Berlin in the thirteenth century. In 1926 the airport became the base for the newly established national airline, Lufthansa.

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