Berlin votes to keep Tempelhof an architectural monument
Berlin’s Tempelhof-Schöneberg district voted overwhelmingly in a referendum on Sunday to keep the storied Tempelhof airport a monument.
Of 90,000 votes, some 60,000 were in favour of preserving the world’s first commercial airport. Just 38,000 were needed for the recommendation to go through at the Berlin district office.
Berlin residents failed to turn out and vote to save Tempelhof in April 2008, but activist group be-4-tempelhof.de petitioned for the referendum to ensure that it will be preserved in a manner that could eventually garner UNESCO World Heritage status.
“We hardly expected such a good result,” activist group member Ines Nagel told daily Berliner Morgenpost on Monday morning while celebrating in a local cafe.
The group doesn’t necessarily think the airport should function as it has in the past, though.
“We are trying for a use that respects the historical significance of the place and protects its form 85 years into the future,” group delegate Volker Perplies told the paper.
Tempelhof was erected in 1923, but is best known for its Nazi-era main terminal. After the Second World War, Allied pilots ferried supplies into the airport in West Berlin when the Soviets tried to starve the city into submission in 1948-49. But Tempelhof's passenger numbers have dwindled in recent years despite its prime location.
Most Berlin flights are from Tegel on Berlin's northwest fringe, which is also due to shut down before the expanded Schönefeld facility becomes the capital's sole airport in three years.
Some Berlin politicians have called for the massive swathe of open space and the accompanying buildings to be repurposed for housing and recreation, though plans are still pending.