On 12 January 2020 our first group event of the new decade led the architecture experts to Tempelhof Airport, Europe’s largest iconic monument with a long and spectacular history. It was one of the first airports in Germany that was in service from 1923 until fall 2008. Television series and movies, such as Billy Wilder’s “A Foreign Affair”, “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise, and the “Hunger Games” were filmed here. Numerous legends surround the history and architecture of the airport. For instance, a rumour that an extensive tunnel stretched kilometers long to the inner inner city of Berlin is located underneath the airport’s premises. However, we learned that this rumour is unfounded.
We were guided through the labyrinth of the enormous building and the subsurface sites extending over three floors underground. We took a peek at the shelters and the bunker where the secret Nazi films archive was stored destroyed by fire at the end of the war. We also stood on the basketball field and the squash courts where the US soldiers spent their free time. The repair work of the relatively unharmed airport began on 4 July 1945 when the US Army took over. A highlight in the history of the airport was the Berlin Airlift. During the blockade from June 1948 to May 1949, the Western allies transported the essential supplies for the inhabitants of Berlin by air. The airport therefore became a symbol of freedom. Nowadays, it is an office location for companies and start-ups in the field of culture and creativity, a venue for sports events and other special events like the Neonyt of the Berlin Fashion Week, which was taking place when we were there. It was a very exciting visit and we particularly enjoyed the morbid charm of the building.