Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ich war ein Berliner: Three things to do in Berlin, Part 2

2. Tempelhof (Station: For Building, U6: Platz der Luftbrücke, For Park, U6: Tempelhof)

Tempelhof is an airport in the south of Berlin with a very long history, some good and some bad. It was built during by the Nazis prior to World War II and was built in the impressively terrifying monumental style of that regime. The building itself is more than a half mile wide between it's "arms", which dwarfs anything in the area. It is well preserved and gives a sense of the architecture of the time, which makes it worth a building if for nothing else than to reflect over would have been. In many ways, I wonder how something so obviously from that era could survive the process of denazification that occurred after the war...

Tempelhof on a West Berlin Stamp

...but part of that answer is the role that it played after the Nazi regime fell. When the soviets blockaded West Berlin dooming the residents there to starvation or conversion to communism, Tempelhof became the terminus for the western allies' "air bridge", one of the most impressive feats of aviation. This "bridge" brought in supplies enough to prevent the millions of people living in the area from falling to that fate. The planes bringing in supplies became known as "raisin bombers" by the German kids because pilots would drop candy for them on their final approach. 

Today, the airport is no longer in operation. It closed in 2008 and today the airfields and their grounds have been opened to the public. Instead of planes flying overhead, kites fill the sky. Instead of planes running the length of the airstrip, it's kids and parents on bikes. There are sports facilities here for just about everything, including even a baseball field left over from the Americans. Of course, like most parks, there's also a beer garden if that's more for your liking.

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