Tempelhof Airport

Berlin, Germany

Closed 2008

The Disappointed Tourist: Tempelhof Airport, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Arriving here always felt so glamorous! Anon.

Berlin Tempelhof Airport (German: Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof) was one of the first airports in Berlin. It was named after the Knights Templar who had owned the site in the Middle Ages. The first terminal was opened in 1927 and was kept in use until its demolition in 1945. The iconic shell limestone building was built between 1936 and 1941 by Prof. Ernst Sagebiel for the Nazi government. Templehof’s use during the war was almost entirely civilian. When Soviet forces invaded in 1945, the German commander chose to kill himself rather than obey order to blow up the airport. Under the Yalta and Postdam Agreements, the airport was included in the American occupation sector of Berlin and was used to supply the Western sectors of Berlin with food and other necessities during the 1948-9 Berlin Airlift or Operation Vittles, including the famous Operation Little Vittles: the dropping of candy to children near the airport. Templehof was closed in 2008 as part of the decision to concentrate all flights to Berlin at the Berlin-Schönefeld International Airport. Since its closure, Templehof has been used as a recreational park, known as Tempelhofer Feld. In 2015, the airport buildings were opened for use as a temporary emergency refugee shelter. The painting is based on an uncredited photograph.