It was here that the Allied aircraft of the Berlin Air Bridge (Berliner Luftbrücke) landed, brining much needed supplies to the people of Berlin.
Shortly after the war’s end the Soviets blockaded Berlin in an attempt to assert their own authority over the captured city through the control of supply lines. The Allies weren’t going to give up so easily however, and they instituted a massive operation of airborne supply for the city. By May 1949 the blockade was essentially broken. The Air Bridge helped re-enforce Allied control of what would become Western Berlin.
I visited the former Tempelhof Airport Gelände last summer with my old flatmate who now lives in Berlin. We stopped at a shabby little Hipster-cafe – of which Berlin has so many – and picked up some Kaffee ToGo before walking out to the grounds. When we arrived my flatmate, himself what you might hazard to call an East German, turned to me and said, “This is where the Allies won the Cold War.”
The whole area seems to sit in a bowl of sorts, and from the ridge upon which we stood we could see people skateboarding, bike-riding, flying kites, and having picnics. Even today the lawns are kept well-mown and the concrete in good repair, and at night the local authorities shut the gates. All this is in the name of keeping the former airport in a constant state of readiness, should it ever be needed again in an emergency as an airport.