Tempelhof Airlift airport to close

There was news last week that Tempelhof airport in Berlin is to close in October 2008.  The vast, semi-circular terminal buildings (one of the largest free standing structures in the world) were built in the late 1930s as a centre piece of the Nazi redevelopment of Germany.  Tempelhof played a vital role during the Berlin Airlift of June 1948 to May 1949, when the Russians cut off overland access to the Western occupied section of Berlin. 

All essential supplies required by the city’s 2.5 million inhabitants had to be brought in by air. 

At its peak there were over 1,500 flights a day, delivering more than 2.3m tons of supplies over the course of the eleven months.  

This photo shows an RAF Dakota being unloaded at Tempelhof airfield as army lorries stand by to take supplies into the city.

Such huge numbers of flights inevitably led to casualties, including 39 from Britain and the Commonwealth.  Several memorials in the UK mark these deaths, including one at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.  It includes 39 trees and a smaller copy of a memorial at Tempelhof Airport.

Click to see the record.

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