Central Hall, Tempelhof Airport

by Leslie Hossack

Tempelhof Berlin used to be one of the world’s largest and busiest airports.

Central Hall, Tempelhof Airport, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Tempelhof Airport is a registered historic monument. The site was originally Knights Templar land in medieval Berlin, and this is the origin of the name Tempelhof. In 1909, Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration at Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright that same year.

In 1923, Tempelhof was officially designated an airport. As part of Albert Speer’s plan for the reconstruction of Berlin, Ernst Sagebiel was ordered to replace the old terminal with a new building in 1934. Designed in monumental Nazi style, Sagebiel’s main entrance doors open into a four-story high Hall of Honour. From there, stairs lead down into the central hall shown in this photograph. Here the walls are divided by rectangular columns and high windows, and from galleries suspended on either side, visitors watched passenger operations.

At one time Tempelhof was the central airport for the city and the largest building in Berlin. During WW II, several basement rooms under the administrative building were finished as air-raid shelters for Lufthansa and airport employees, and for people from the neighborhood. Damaged during the war, the airport complex underwent additional changes from 1959 to 1962.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, the Allied occupation of Berlin came to an end. In July 1994, the British, French and American forces were deactivated in a ceremony on the Four Ring Parade Field at Tempelhof, and the Western Allies returned the city of Berlin to the German government.

Architect: Ernst Sagebiel          Date: 1935-1941

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