The airport that changed Europe

The airport that changed Europe


Ironically, decades after the Nazis designed Tempelhof, the airport resumed its Cold War role as a lifeline for those in need by becoming Europe’s largest refugee camp.

As of 2015, the terminal and some of its grounds were used to house Syrian refugees, with more than 2,000 people sleeping under the hangars’ 52-foot-high ceilings at any one time. Today a “container village” near the runway is home to several hundred Ukrainian refugees. And in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, the airport grounds became a vaccination site – a role reminiscent of its brief life as a field hospital during the 19th century Franco-Prussian War.

“[It’s] a particularly special place because it contains a lot of history,” said Cindy Brzostowski, an American journalist living in Berlin. “You only have to look down to remember that you are on a track with years and years of history.

Like the city around it, Tempelhof continues to change its identity, providing an inclusive space for old, new and visiting Berliners.

“Skating [here] It’s always a great feeling,” Janta said. “Even though I’m used to it, every time it’s like a new experience. Every time I hit the pavement, I take a deep breath and enjoy the feeling, almost like butter on my skin.”

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