Remembering Tempelhof

A Flight of Fancy

Berlin, Drachenfest auf dem Tempelhofer Feld, ehem. Flughafen Tempelhof Foto: Kai-Uwe Heinrich
Once the site of Cold War intrigues,  Berlin's Tempelhof airport now hosts events like this kite festival. Photo: Kai-Uwe Heinrich
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Taking a stroll, flying a kite, barbequing with friends. Visitors to Berlin’s Tempelhof airport could easily forget its Cold War past.

  • Facts


    • Built in the 1920s, Tempelhof airport witnessed most of Berlin’s 20th Century turbulence.
    • The U.S. Air Force ran it as a high security base for the duration of the Cold War.
    • The last aircrafts left in 2008, leaving a collossal park area in the city center.
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Nazis, bombing raids, Allied occupation, a desperate air lift, Cold War division. In the nine decades since the first plane took off from its runway, Berlin’s oldest airport has witnessed more than its fair share of pivotal historical events.

But perhaps the most exciting incident of all took place one April morning in 1991. The sun had already climbed above the airport’s cavernous Nazi-era hangar and photographers Kai-Uwe Heinrich and Mike Wolff had just finished a late breakfast.

Suddenly, three black limousines raced onto the airfield, speeding towards a small craft waiting on the runway. From their office, Mr. Heinrich and Mr. Wolff watched spellbound as soldiers jumped out of the cars and bundled a man dressed in civilian clothes into the aircraft. The propeller blades began to spin and the plane disappeared off West towards Frankfurt.

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