Former Soviet and East German Military Bases in the GDR – Pictures from Above

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At the end of WWII, the territory of conquered Germany was split in four sectors by the then-Allies – the US, Great Britain, France and the USSR. A substantial part to the north-east of the country fell in Stalin’s hands. A few years later, following a re-organization of all territories occupied by the Red Army during WWII, the Soviet part of Germany was turned into a communist-led state known as German Democratic Republic (‘GDR’, or ‘DDR’ in German language).

Especially from a military standpoint, similar to Poland, and later Hungary and Czechoslovakia, this produced a kind of cohabitation. As a matter of fact, besides clearly backing the communist dictatorship in occupied countries, the Soviets did not quit at all from newly acquired western territories. On the contrary, thanks to the position on a potential war front had the Cold War turned hot, the westernmost Soviet-controlled countries – with the GDR on top – were stuffed with Soviet military bases, and hundreds of thousands troops. These shared the map with the national military, which in the GDR were known as NVA (an acronym standing for the German equivalent of ‘National People’s Army’).

The national and Soviet forces often took control of separated military facilities, and while operating in a coordinated fashion, they were substantially different entities. As said, this was typical to many Soviet-controlled countries. Yet especially on the relatively small East German territory, of high strategic value thanks to the shared border with the West, the total number of tank bases, training academies, air bases, missile bases, nuclear depots, shooting ranges, etc., reached an unrivaled world’s peak, when compared to the population or the size of the country.

Following the crisis leading to the end of the GDR in 1989, and the collapse of the USSR roughly two years later, all these military assets turned surplus. The German reunification, and the disappearance of a significant military opponent in the close vicinity of the border, triggered a rationalization of military resources in Germany. Most of the NVA bases were closed. The Soviet-controlled installations were evacuated more slowly – it took until 1994 to bring back to their Russian homeland the thousands of troops and tonnes of material stationed in Germany. Once returned to Germany, also most of these bases were deactivated and closed.

Since then, the fate of these former military facilities in Germany has been in the hands of local governments or national initiatives. As a matter of fact, following a few decades spent as ghost bases – a real paradise for urbex explorers! – most air bases have been converted into solar power plants. Some of them have retained an airport status, either with a very reduced runway, or in some cases being turned into full-scale commercial airports. There are exceptions too, as some are still at least partly abandoned, and while invaded by vegetation, they are still totally recognizable especially from above. Other bases, like tank bases or nuclear depots, while mostly earmarked for demolition, have been comparatively better ‘preserved’ – at least, they have been attacked by the state more slowly, so there is still much to see there.

You can find on this website several reports about quite a few of these military bases in the former GDR – especially airbases – from a ‘ground perspective’. Sometimes, it is difficult to appreciate the size, shape, as well as their concentration over the former GDR territory. In order to better show these aspects, now here you have a portrait of many of these bases from the air!

The photographs in the present post are from a single, two-hours flight on a Cessna 172 single-prop aircraft. The flight took place in July 2019. As you can see from the locations pinpointed on the map below, on our route we met not less than 15 former (or still active) military items. And this is just a short trip mostly in southern Brandenburg – i.e. the region immediately south of Berlin.

This report is a complement to other chapters on this site, yet it is especially interesting on its own, as a comprehensive bundle of aerial pics on this subject is not easy to find!

Sights

Points of interest are listed following the flight plan, which was flown roughly as on the map, in a counter-clockwise direction, starting from Reinsdorf Airfield.

Soviet Nuclear Bunker Stolzenhain

This one-of-a-kind facility – there were actually two such depots, but one is today demolished and inaccessible – used to be a major storage for nuclear weapons for the Soviet Western Group of Forces, which included all Soviet troops stationed in the GDR.

The bunker is today closed, but it apparently lies on private land, hence sparing it from being turned into something else (or simply flattened) by the local government. You can see a dedicated report in this chapter.

Vegetation has grown wild in the area, but from above you can clearly spot the rectangular perimeter of the external concrete wall. From north to south, an internal road crossed the rectangle in the middle.

The bunkers are half-interred, hence from above you can barely spot the entrances. These are aligned along a service road arranged in a hexagonal shape.

To the south of the bunker area, you can spot a former group of barracks and an access road heading west. Construction and demolition works are taking place in this area.

Control and Reporting Center Schönewalde

This is an active military installation, and actually quite an advanced one. It is tasked with monitoring the air operations over a large part of the airspace over Germany.

The origin of this half-interred technical installation can be traced to the 1970s, when the site was activated under responsibility of the NVA. Following the end of communist rule and after German reunification, unlike many others this site was not demolished, but instead it was developed further, and pressed into the defense chain of NATO since the mid-1990s.

You can see many half-interred warehouses, garages for trucks, a smaller radar antenna to the west of the complex, close to a helipad.

There is also a larger antenna to the northeastern corner of the CRC.

Holzdorf Air Base

This large airport used to be an airbase of the NVA. It is one of the few airports from the Cold War in the GDR which were turned into a full-scale modern airport. Today it is a base of the Bundeswehr, i.e. the German military.

As we approached from north, you can spot first typical large communist buildings, forming a citadel which is likely still today hosting troops and their families. There is also reportedly a flight academy for helicopters in this complex, north of the airport.

The airport features large hangars for military helicopters to the northwest of the runway.

A rather old-styled control tower can be seen to the south of the runway.

Falkenberg Air Base

We reached the southernmost point on our flight with the former Soviet base in Falkenberg. This old base dating to the 1930s went on to be developed into a Soviet base home to fighter aircraft, MiG-23 and later MiG-29. Close to the airfield, there used to be a SAM missile battery (to the west of the runway).

Approaching from the north-west, you can notice a small ghost town and a large technical area, with what appear to be big unreinforced maintenance hangars, today used for something else by local companies.

The airport is today dedicated to light aviation activities. The runway has been shortened, and sadly large portions of the original airfield have been covered with solar cells.

Most interestingly, in the trees to the northwest of the runway, you can spot four unfinished aircraft shelters – possibly of the type AU-16, which could host both the MiG-23 and MiG-29. They look like short concrete tunnels. They should have been covered with land, but works were interrupted in 1990.

More aircraft shelters – completed – can be found to the east of the field, today used for storage, as it is often the case.

Finsterwalde Air Base

This installation was operative since WWII, when the large hangars and control tower still in place to the south of the apron were built. The base went on serving as a Soviet base, hosting fighters and fighter-bombers of many kinds along its illustrious history. A visit to this site, with its nuclear depot, can be found in this chapter.

Approaching from the southwest, we flew over the nuclear storage bunker, made for nuclear warheads to supply aircraft operating from here. The columns once holding the crane to lift the warheads can be clearly spotted.

There is also a group of Soviet-style houses for the families of the troops. Apparently somebody is still living there!

The base was enlarged with reinforced shelters to the north and southwest of the runway. The large hangars to the south are still in use with local companies, some of course connected with flight operations – this airport is still active for general aviation operations.

Enroute to the next waypoint, we flew over a natural preserve, which offered some quite spectacular sights.

Alteno-Luckwalde Air Base

This airfield north of Finsterwalde was a reserve airport of the East German NVA. While never developed to the extent of primary airfields, it was among the few reserve air bases to receive an asphalt runway.

Today, the view is rather desolating – the airfield has been totally covered with solar cells.

Brand-Briesen Air Base

This WWII base was selected for quick and substantial improvement since the early Cold War years, and went on to be one of the most developed Soviet air bases in the former GDR. In the beginning it hosted Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, but in the jet age it was home to a number of different squadrons and aircraft types. You can find the results of the exploration of a part of this base in this chapter.

Approaching from the south, you first spot an immense hangar, conceived at the turning of the century for commercial airships, and later turned into a water park – Tropical Island.

 

But more interestingly, to the south of the airfield – unusually far from it, actually – you can find a depot for nuclear weapons, to supply the aircraft operating from the base. Similar to Finsterwalde, the pillars once holding the crane for lifting the warheads can be clearly seen.

Still to the south of the airfield, the local citadel for the troops is today an interesting ghost town.

As you may notice, the airfield is today closed, and has been largely converted into a recreation park. Incredibly, they decided to build an array of small houses on the former premises of the airport, and in close proximity to the monster airship hangar.

Yet some relics from the past function of the air base are to be found scattered around. These include aircraft shelters, and more rare engine testing facilities – V-shaped concrete walls emerging from the grass nearby some of the shelters.

Kleinköris Air Base

This airbase was activated in the late 1960s as a reserve airfield for the East German NVA. It was used for exercises, and as a home base for helicopters of the Volkspolizei, i.e. the police of the GDR. After deactivation, it was used as a military storage for a while, and finally closed.

The appearance, perfectly evident from the air, is rather unusual – it features a long grassy runway, with concrete taxiways at the ends. To the reports from the time, this is the original configuration of the airbase. Luckily, it is basically still intact.

Wünsdorf

The name of this small town will be forever linked to the two military high commands which were headquartered on its premises – Hitler’s OKW first, and the command of the Soviet Western Group of Forces for the full span of the Cold War. You can find a dedicated chapter here.

From above, you can get a nice view of the extension and shape of this military town, as well as good portraits of some of the highlights in it. Approaching from the southeast, you first meet the most famous building in Wünsdorf, the officers’ house. This majestic building dates from the early 20th century. It knew an extensive renovation during the Cold War years, as an officers’ club for the Soviet Red Army.

This huge building features a statue of Lenin on one side. In the wings to the back, you can find a swimming pool and a theater. The round building with a mural is a late Soviet addition, and once hosted a circular panorama painting.

The high command occupied the buildings north of the officers’ club, today converted into something else.

Another highlight of Wünsdorf are the many bunkers. These include the Maybach bunkers from Hitler’s era, once hosting the OKW. These were designed for deception as living houses, but could withstand aerial bombardment. They were blown by the Soviet, with only partial success. The Zeppelin bunkers, like cusped concrete towers, were designed to resist bombardment, by deviating air-dropped bombs falling from above along the sidewalls and down to the ground nearby.

Soviet bunkers were located very close to the array of Maybach bunkers. They are largely interred, and from above you can see some concrete tunnels in the trees.

The railway line and station is an historical track from the time. The Wünsdorf-Moscow line operated in both ways on a daily basis. The service was suspended only in 1994, at the very end of the withdrawal of the last occupation troops to Russia – for many, the symbolic end of Soviet occupation.

The buildings for those stationed in Wünsdorf and their families were really many. Today this town, having lost its original core business, is largely uninhabited.

Sperenberg Air Base

Not far from Wünsdorf, you can find the former Soviet air base of Sperenberg. This immense transport base used to be a major logistic base for the Soviets, which operated from here with their monster cargo planes. More on this base can be found in this chapter.

Approaching from the east, you first meet the buildings for the troops, to the east of the airport and close to the village.

An aerial view allows to clearly capture the shape of the base, with two large parallel taxiways with a huge array of parking bays for transport aircraft, and a long runway – still basically intact! – to the south.

A large hangar with an inscription in Russian can be found to the east, whereas a small terminal building can be spotted ahead of a large apron to the west.

Today the airport is closed, but rumors have surfaced more than once concerning its evaluation as a third airport for Berlin. This may justify its missed conversion into another desolating field of solar cells.

Kummersdorf Military Laboratory

A bit of an outsider here, Kummersdorf holds a very relevant place in the history of war technique thanks to pre-Soviet activity. In the late 1920s the Germans established here an experimental laboratory especially dedicated to novel weapons. It can be said that western rocketry was born here, since the group of Walther Dornberger, later joined by Wernher von Braun, started operations on liquid-propelled rockets in this lab.

Activities later moved to somewhere else, and finally landed in Peenemünde – see this dedicated chapter.

The laboratory in Kummersdorf was used also during WWII to test captured material, especially enemy tanks. Following the end of WWII, the Soviets took over the facility, but turned it into a more standard military base.

The red barracks in typical German style can be clearly seen from above. Most of the post-WWII depots are falling apart, but the area is really huge.

Forst Zinna Military Base

This base is located to the northeast of Jüterbog-Altes Lager, a huge Imperial, Nazi and later Soviet military complex, including two shooting ranges, a few airfields, an academy and many barracks.

Forst Zinna base was operative in the years of the Third Reich, named after Adolf Hitler himself. It went on to become a large base for the artillery groups training in the nearby shooting ranges. A dedicated chapter can be found here.

From above, it is clear that demolition works are slowly wiping out the base. Yet there is much housing left to visit. Typical German buildings share the area with shabby Soviet ‘socialist housing’. A bridge passing over a major road and railway track going to Berlin links the base to the shooting range north of it.

Altes Lager Shooting Range and Barracks

The shooting range north of Forst Zinna is pointed with concrete control towers. The area is very extensive, and quite more convenient to explore from above!

Closer to Altes Lager, many barracks can be seen aligned along a major road. From the style, these appear to be from an older time than the Soviet occupation years.

Jüterbog-Altes Lager Training Academy

This pretty unique piece of architecture dates from the years of the Führer, and used to be an academy for air force technicians. It was later turned into a military academy for Soviet staff, and a KGB office was reportedly active here too. A report can be found in this chapter.

From above you can better capture the plant of the complex. The half-circle to the north hosted a big theater in the basement.

Most strikingly, in the western part of the complex you can see sporting facilities which have been completely refurbished, and are actually in use. These include a football field and some tennis courts. There is also a pool, but this has not been refurbished.

Jüterbog-Niedergörsdorf Air Base

This large air base was jointly operated by the NVA and Soviet air force. You can find a report in this chapter.

Approaching from the northwest you can see aircraft shelters, whereas to the northeast you find an array of large maintenance hangars. These have been turned into something else, including a test driving facility, which chopped part of the original apron.

To the south of the runway, the base used to feature a large number of parking bays for helicopters. The runway has not been physically cut, albeit a central section of the original concrete has been taken away. Air operations today are apparently limited to ultralights and trikes.

A menacing army of solar cells is attacking the perimeter of the base from the east! An unmissable sight next to this base (to the east) is a former aircraft shelter turned into a private collection of Soviet memorabilia – Shelter Albrecht (covered in this post).

Enroute to the next waypoint, you can clearly spot from the air a military hospital complex (see this chapter) – rather famous among urbex fanatics… – and other service buildings.

Jüterbog-Damm Air Base

This base dates to the years of the German Empire. It was forcibly demilitarized after WWI, but strongly developed in the years of the Third Reich, with the construction of large concrete hangars and service facilities, and a grassy airstrip good for fighter planes of the era.

Following conquer by Soviet forces, the airbase was partly dismantled, but at some point a SAM battery appeared on this site.

Today you can appreciate the size and special shape of the concrete hangars, a true engineering masterpiece from pre-WWII years.

Landing in Reinsdorf

Finally, you can see here a vid of the perfect approach and landing into the touristic airfield of Reinsdorf, about two hours after take-off!

Practical Notes

This flight was carried out from Reinsdorf Airfield (ICAO: EDOD), located about 10 miles southeast of Jüterbog, the most sizable town in the neighborhood. The airfield is roughly 1 hour driving south of downtown Berlin, very easy to reach with a car.

The flight would have not been possible without the help of a fantastic couple, Mrs. Kolditz and her husband, who own a nice French-built Cessna 172 from the mid-1960s, D-EBLD, portrayed here.

There are some features making this very aircraft ideal for aerial pictures. Besides the high-wing configuration, this exemplar features a side window which can be completely opened, allowing for an unobstructed view of the scenery below.

The man is a former NVA pilot, something that must have played a part in him accepting to set up this very unusual flight plan! His great ability as a pilot helped much in having the aircraft in the right position to take the desired aerial pictures.

Thanks to the availability of the Kolditz family, setting up the flight was an easy task, even operating from abroad and through much Google-translation!

Another key-element in this adventure was Federico, a friend of mine sharing my passion for flying, who lives in Berlin, and played an essential part in co-financing the flight and translating between me and the pilot, as – perhaps incredibly, considering the content of this website… – I don’t speak German.

If you are interested in sightseeing flights south of Berlin, I suggest inquiring with the folks at Reinsdorf, a very active airfield with many facilities for touristic and pleasure flights. Website here.

A Few Remains of Nazi Grandeur in Germany

Architecture is possibly one of the disciplines where the ringleaders of the Nazi dictatorship invested most, for it provided a direct mean to display and impose their ‘new aesthetics’ to the German people and to foreign visitors from abroad.

The victory of the Allies in WWII wiped out the Nazi apparatus, but nowhere as in Germany did the new post-war leadership take the  deletion of all traces of the Third Reich so seriously. Even in museums of military history – there is an excellent example in Ingolstadt,  Bavaria, perhaps one of the most beautiful museums on the topic in Europe – there are just a handful of Nazi insignia. Swastikas, Nazi uniforms, weapons and memorabilia can be found to an incredibly greater extent elsewhere in Europe, especially in Britain, or in museums in the US. They are really also abundant in the countless exhibitions about the Great Patriotic War – WWII for Russians – in the former USSR, and generally beyond the Iron Curtain.

Concerning architecture, especially in Berlin many buildings of all ages were totally demolished as a result of US/British air raids, and during the last battle for the city opposite the Red Army. Similarly, the town centers of many larger towns were severely damaged. In the reconstruction process, little care was taken in keeping trace of this dark page of the German history, and the reborn downtown districts assumed in many cases a new face, where 1950-styled buildings shared the stage with medieval cathedrals and public schools from Bismarck’s time – pretty much nothing from the 1930s.

Yet of course some creations of Hitler’s architects have come to these days. Despite the evil ideology behind them, some are remarkable works of art, displaying a clear relationship with functionalism, typically found through various interpretations also in many realizations of great architects of the Thirties, in the US as well as all around western Europe. Examples are those buildings connected with infrastructures, like airport terminals or railway stations – much needed in the post-WWII period, and preferably restored instead of being demolished. More items of this kind survive than possibly of any other from Hitler’s era in todays German cities. A majestic example is the terminal of the now closed Berlin-Tempelhof airport.

Most of the surviving buildings hold a public function – like departments of the government or sport arenas. In a very few cases, buildings strongly connected with the devious ideology of the Third Reich have been preserved – albeit not greatly publicized – as museums. A first notable example is the complex around the Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, with the unfinished huge congress hall for the conventions of the Nazi Party. A second one is the disturbing ‘spiritual center’ of the infamous SS in Wewelsburg.

This chapter collects a few photographs from these three places. Of course, it is far from a complete review of the architectural heritage of the 1930s and 1940s in Germany. It just provides an insight on a relatively unknown group of relics from Hitler’s era in Germany.

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Sights

Berlin-Tempelhof Airport Terminal

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Possibly the most complete and grandest example of Nazi architecture, the airport terminal of Berlin-Tempelhof is interesting both from an architecture standpoint and for its historical significance. The terminal was designed and built in the late 1930s and completed in 1941, greatly enlarging a preexistent construction.

At that time, nothing comparable existed in the world. The terminal is more than a mile long. It was built with a direct access from the land-side buildings directly to the long side of a narrow hangar on the air-side, which basically ran all along the terminal. Considering the small size of the aircraft of the day, this ‘hangar-terminal’ configuration could be exploited to simultaneously load and unload a high number of flights, with operations taking place directly in, or just outside, of a covered hangar. During WWII, parts of the hangar were used to manufacture military aircraft, exploiting forced laborers from a concentration camp prepared nearby for the purpose.

But the features of the terminal turned also extremely handy during the Berlin blockade of 1948-49, when Stalin tried to force his former western Allies to withdraw from Berlin by cutting off the western sector of the city. The western Allies set up the famous airlift, supplying the western sector with basically everything that was needed for a population in the order of a million, for 15 months! Tempelhof was the major airport in Berlin – the other being the British airbase in Gatow, near Potsdam – and laid in the American zone of the city. Thanks to its peculiar structure, it could manage the immense flow of goods flown in by more than 1’000 flights per day.

In the Cold War years, the airport was operated as a logistic base by the US forces. In the meanwhile, the construction of a larger airport – with a smaller terminal, but longer runways – was started at Tegel, and this was promoted to the main airport of West Berlin for civil air traffic. State flights still were operated in and out of Tempelhof, President Reagan’s Air Force One 27000 notably operating from Tempelhof on a famous state visit in 1982. After the German reunification the airport went on working as a civil airport, but the relatively short runways and noise issues led to its closure in 2008.

Sadly, today this glorious airport has been turned into another city park. It is rather difficult to use it for the scope though, as all the cement and asphalt of the apron, runways and taxiways are still there, there are no trees, and the terminal is an imposing presence on one side. Moreover, it is really a surplus for a city like Berlin, scattered with plenty of beautiful and immense green areas. The terminal building has not yet found a new occupation, and is basically a well-guarded ghost. Plans for reopening it as a convention center are apparently consolidated in 2022, but renovation works are going on still at very low pace.

Most recently, a small but well-designed, mainly pictorial exhibition has been located in the old terminal building, retracing with beautiful historical pictures, technical schemes and essential explanations the history of Tempelhof Airport.

Pictures from the year 2015 – but luckily not much had changed in 2022, the date of my latest visit – show the main building giving access to the terminal on the northwestern corner of the airfield still in a rather good shape. The empty parking ahead of the passenger entrance with nobody around gives a lunar aura to the place.

The neat lines of this part of the building deceive its actual size. From a former visit still in the days of operation – year 2006 – you can notice the roomy check-in hall, right beyond the main entrance.

Close by one of the glass entry doors you can spot a memorial to General Lucius Clay, the American mind behind the Berlin Airlift.

The grand perspective leading to the entrance is really an architectural masterpiece. Also noteworthy is a series of covered passages leading to lateral courtyards to the sides. These service passages are not visible when approaching the terminal from the distance, preserving the general sense of order without renouncing to the functionality of the construction.

There are two surviving marble eagles from Hitler’s time, on the front walls of the buildings to the sides of the main perspective.

The eagle head ahead of the parking is from the eagle sculpture originally standing on top of the main façade in Hitler’s times. That eagle was taken away after the capture of the city and the end of the war. The head went to the Army Academy in West Point, NY as a spoil of war, and was returned after the German reunification.

Moving along the wings of the building you can appreciate the size of the construction, really uncommon for Europe in the Thirties. The quality of all materials is also really striking. Their cost must have been really high.

To the extreme northeastern tip of the building you can spot some former radio installations, likely connected with air traffic control or military operations. From there you can get access to the former air side of the airport. At the time when the pictures were taken it was possible to walk around freely, but unfortunately not close to the hangar. Most recently, a branch of the Allied Museum in Berlin has taken responsibility for a preservation effort, and is keeping the place off-limits, opening it to the public on rare guided visits in German only – but I could not join in any of them.

There is also a historical propliner ahead of the iconic ‘Berlin Tempelhof’ sign on top of the hangar. Anyway, walking on the apron and runways produces a ‘history was made here’ feeling, and it is worth trying! Again, a few shots from the days of operation show the hangar from inside the terminal building. Historical pictures from local panels show the use of the hangar for the production of aircraft and technical parts.

As said, a recent exhibition of special interest for getting an accurate historical perspective, retraces the timeline of the airfield, since its pre-Third Reich era, through the colossal redesign in the shape we see today carried out in Hitler’s time, and down to the Cold War era, when Tempelhof had a crucial role in the Berlin Airlift, and was operated for long as a regular city airport.

Remarkably, in April 1945 the airfield fell in Soviet hands – since the Soviet Army conquered Berlin – and was later ceded to the US, following the Potsdam agreements in July 1945, which split the capital of the Third Reich in four sectors. It is likely Stalin regretted his own ‘fair-play’ concerning Tempelhof at the time of the Airlift, just a few years later…

A picture portraying general Keitel, in custody, arriving at Tempelhof to sign the instrument of surrender in the Soviet headquarters (see here) together with other top-ranking Nazi officers, shows a Lisunov Li-2 in the background. This was the licensed Soviet copy of the Douglas C-47. Also interesting the demolished German fighters found on sight by the conquerors.

The US, having taken control of the field, organized open-days for the general public once per year – reportedly, mostly appreciated by the local population.

Actually, the years corresponding to the sealing of the Inner Border (see here), from the Berlin crisis of 1961 (which saw the construction of the Berlin Wall) until specific accords partially reopening the land borders especially to Westerners in the early 1970s, were those of the most intense activity for Tempelhof – reaching West Berlin was more convenient by flight. But soon after, the better infrastructure of Tegel, with longer runways and less surrounded by high-rise buildings, took over most of the airline connections to Berlin. Tempelhof went on hosting state flights, general aviation flights, and commercial flights to a lower scale. There was also a permanent presence of US Army forces.

Evoking pictures include one with Willy Brandt greeting general Clay, and much later, President Reagan and the First Lady on a state visit in 1987. In another, you see one of the former Third Reich top-ranking staff Albert Speer – who also contributed to the design of Tempelhof – leaving for Western Germany by flight, following release after serving a long sentence in the prison of Spandau. He had been sentenced in Nürnberg.

The closure on grounds of noise issues, as noted, left the infrastructure unused for some years. Plans for re-opening as a convention/exhibition centers have been prepared as of 2022, and partial updating works are being carried out.

Getting there and moving around

The former airport is not far from downtown Berlin, around 3 miles south from the Brandenburg Gate in the former western sector of the city. Access to the terminal is from Tempelhofer Damm. Parking is possible along this major alley, or on the many roads around the airport – parking is rarely a problem in Berlin. Be ready to walk though, as usual when touring an airport.

Access possible also with public means of transportation. The front terminal can be easily reached from the U6 stops ‘Platz der Luftbrucke’ or ‘Bhf Paradestrasse’. Access from the east is easier from the U8 stops ‘Boddinstrasse’ or ‘Leinenstrasse’. There is finally an S-bahn station on the southwestern corner of the airfield – ‘Bahnhof Tempelhof’ – where U6 meets with several S-bahn lines.

My last visit to the place dates back to 2022, and as the area was undergoing renovation with a consolidated plan for changing its role and shape – and some works having started in the southernmost part of the terminal building.

Anyway, at the time of this visit the terminal was closed to the public, with limited chances to visit inside on guided tours. The only chance to access the terminal is for the small – yet totally recommended – photo exhibition. The latter can be reached to the left of the main facade of the terminal building. Website with contacts and timetables here.

Touring the exterior is possible on your own, and there are also a few descriptive panels along the perimeter. There are multiple entrances to the former air side, which is a public park with many people around.

Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Nuremberg

Nuremberg is an ancient imperial city in the heart of Germany, taken over as the symbolic capital of the ‘new kingdom’ by the theorists of the Nazi doctrine, due to its historical significance in German history. This town became the focal point of Hitler-led Nazi Party (NSDAP is the acronym of the party name in German language) well before the fateful general elections of 1933, when Hitler was elected chancellor of the German Republic. Among the activities of the NSDAP since the Twenties was a yearly rally, where for a few days all sections of the party met in Nuremberg for a series of group activities, including political speeches, commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the German wars, sport, camping, dining, etc.

In the years preceding Hitler’s raise to power, these rallies took place in the Luitpoldhain Park, to the southeast of the town center. The park had at its center the Hall of Honor, a memorial to the soldiers of German Wars, erected at the end of the Twenties. Today, leaving behind some construction works carried out by the NSDAP in the 1930s – including a massive Luitpold Hall and a tribune, today completely demolished – the place has regained its commemorative function, and is still used as a nice and sober city park. Yet historical photographs of Hitler celebrating the fallen German comrades ahead of the very monument you can see today produce a strange feeling.

In the years of the dictatorship, the rallies turned into a megalomaniac ostentation of power, with hundreds of thousands participating in the reunions. Correspondingly, the area involved in these parades was greatly enlarged, and a plan was made to realize a group of dedicated buildings.

The most famous of them, thanks to the historical movies of the parades recorded at the time, is the Zeppelin Field. This was a parade ground designed from scratch by Nazi architects. The white tribune with the huge swastika on top, in the background of an immense, perfectly ordered and disciplined public, crowding the arena and listening to the voice of the Führer, is one of the permanent symbols of the Third Reich monstrous machine. Actually, the same tribune is the subject of another very famous movie, where the swastika is blown up with dynamite after the capture of the city of Nuremberg by US troops, marking the end of the Nazi rule in Germany.