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Tempelhof Airport's heritage in jeopardy?

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03:47 CET+01:00
A lack of support from the German government could wreck Berlin's historic Tempelhof Airport's chances of making the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The State Minister for Culture, Bernd Neumann has yet to give his official support for the application, which needs to be handed in to UNESCO by February 1st.

Tempelhof is the airport used in the 1948 Berlin Airlift, in which the Allies brought food and other living staples to a West Berlin blockaded by the Soviets.

Despite local opposition, the airport will close to passengers on October 31, 2008. The movement to add Tempelhof Airport to the World Heritage list is part of an effort to prevent the airport's closure.

The campaign to get Tempelhof added to the world heritage list is being led by Volker Perplies, a 39-year-old engineer from the Berlin district of Pankow.

A letter, which has been submitted to UNESCO in Paris, does not meet the formal requirements for the application. In addition, the historic airport's location in Berlin is problematic. Any application must have the support of the minister of culture.

“Tempelhof Airport has a chance of getting on the candidate list only if the Republic of Germany stands behind the application,” Céline Fuchs, an official at the World Heritage office told the Berliner Morgenpost.

Other historic sites in Berlin have also applied for UNESCO recognition. Sites that applied with federal backing include architecturally significant settlements from the 1920's, including Siemensstadt, the original offices of the German conglomerate Siemens.

Architecture experts have criticised politicians for supporting the settlements instead of the airport. “Tempelhof is worth World Heritage,” said Therese Keilhacker of the Berlin Chamber of Architects. “This airport has world renown that other buildings in Berlin cannot offer,” she added.

Tempelhof Airport became the world's first airport with a subway station in 1927 and is widely cited as the world's first commercial airport.

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