Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Berlin’s Tempelhof airport tells Germany’s story

By Stefanie Glinski

02 Sep 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, Germany, has a rich history that mirrors the city’s own. Established before the Nazi regime, it was occupied by both the Russians and Americans and is now Germany's largest refugee camp, hosting hundreds of asylum-seekers and refugees.

BERLIN—There are few places that tell Berlin’s—and modern Germany’s—story better than Tempelhof Airport. 

Born just before the horrors of the Nazi regime, and later occupied by both the Russians and the Americans, Tempelhof sits quietly today, as far as its original purposes go. As the sun sets over the abandoned runways, only children’s kites are left flying here. Two years after the last plane touched down in 2008, the airport grounds opened to the public and have since hosted techno raves, queer festivals, community gardens, and, most of all, refugees—the first ones as early as the 1950s, when Germans escaped the Soviet-occupied east.

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