Posts Tagged ‘Zeppelin’

100% Tempelhof Field

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Last month, Berliners voted in a referendum, called “100% Tempelhof Field” to keep the former airport site permanently open to the public. http://www.dw.de/berlin-voters-claim-tempelhof/a-17663944. Tempelhof Airport, centrally located and roughly the size of New York’s Central Park, was closed in 2008 and recently slated for construction of housing units and public buildings.

Tempelhof Field History

Tempelhof Field had once been a parade ground for the Prussian army. In 1909, the American aviation pioneer, Orville Wright, managed to stay in the air over Berlin for one full hour. http://www.berlin-airport.de/en/company/about-us/history/tempelhof-airport/. In the 1920s, Zeppelins lifted off this field, and in 1926, German Airlines, Lufthansa, got their start in here. In the mid-1930s, Hitler decided to build a world-class airport on this site, planning to rename it “Germania.” In only two years, the symmetrical complex was completed and consisted of 49 buildings, 7 hangars, and 9,000 offices, amounting to a total of 3,067,000 square feet of space. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-myth-of-berlin-s-tempelhof-the-mother-of-all-airports-a-549685-2.html. In 1945, US Forces took control of the airport, expanded the complex, and used it as a base for the next five decades. During the 1948/49 Berlin Blockade, Tempelhof Field served as a major takeoff and landing site for the Berlin Airlift. In 1951, the US Forces released the airport for civil air and freight traffic, but within a decade it had reached its capacity. After Tegel Airport opened in 1975, Tempelhof Airport operations were suspended, and in 2008 the historic landmark was closed altogether.

Tempelhof Field Controversy

In 1996, the city decided to build a new mega-airport, Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI). As the opening of BBI got delayed several times, controversy over the use of Tempelhof Field ensued. Some wanted to see the grounds preserved as a commercial airport; others wanted them turned into a museum, residences, and park land.In an attempts to ease Berlin’s housing crises, city fathers proposed to build 4,700 apartments and commercial spaces and a public library on the former airport site.

100% Tempelhof Field

Almost 65 percent of those who voted on this citizens’ initiative gave their support to “100% Tempelhof Field.” Since the closure of Tempelhof Airport, Berliners had used the field for a variety of festivals, music events, art exhibitions, barbecues, kite flying, wind skating (surfing on skateboards), gardening, and football. The area also has a six-kilometer cycling, skating and jogging trail, a dog-walking field, and an enormous picnic area.

Tempelhof Airport with Tempelhof Field in background, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Tempelhof Airport with Tempelhof Field in background, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

The Zeppelin

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

The Zeppelin was a cigar-shaped rigid airship. In 1874 the German cavalry general, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, pioneered its rigid design. Its basic form was that of a long cylinder with tapered ends. It was on this day in history, on July 2, 1900, that the first Zeppelin, the LZ 1, made its maiden voyage. It flew across the Bodensee (Lake Constance) in Germany. The initial prototype was 420 feet long. Eventually, the term “zeppelin” came to refer to all rigid airships.

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin

Count Ferdinand continued to improve the design of the LZ 1, and by 1910 his airships were flown commercially. By the middle of 1914, they had carried over 34,000 passengers on over 1,500 flights. The popularity of the Zeppelin peaked during the 1930s when they were flown on regular transatlantic flights between Germany and North America, and between Germany and Brazil. At one point, the count even toyed with the idea of connecting several independent airships to form a steerable airship train.

After Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin died in 1917, his successor, Hugo Eckener, took command of the business. He worked hard at reestablishing to company’s lead in rigid airship design in the wake of World War I, but political issues made it difficult. Then, in 1937, one of the Zepplins, the Hindenburg, landed in Lakehurst in New Jersey, after having completed another transatlantic flight, when its tail caught on fire. Within seconds, it burst into flames, killing many passengers and crewmembers. The event led to the demise of the Zeppelin.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.