Nazi airport becomes Germany's largest refugee shelter

Terminal of Germany’s Berlin Tempelhof airport which was used as forced labor camp during World War II becomes shelter for refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German armed forces Bundeswehr soldiers set up tents and beds for migrants in a hangar of the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin, Germany, October 25, 2015.

A part of Germany’s former Berlin Tempelhof airport has been turned into a temporary shelter for hundreds of refugees.

The US took the control of the airport after the war and used the airport for shipments as Soviets cut off road access.

“Mother of all airports,”Tempelhof was also used as a forced labor camp by the Nazi regime during World War II. 

Seventy two tents have been set up by volunteers, soldiers and firefighters in one of the hangars of the airport which was used to host cultural events. Each tent in the hangar is planned to include 10 bunk beds.

In addition, another hangar is likely to also be used as a refugee shelter to accommodate 480 more refugees, officials said.

The registration of the newly arrived refugees is also expected to take place in the airport.

The refugees will need to be transported to a public swimming pool for showers during their stay in the temporary shelters, as the hangars are not suitable for building showers.

Some other refugee housing options were considered in the city, including a former state bank building.

Officials were planning to use the former airport building and the surrounding area for new purposes since the airport was retired in 2008 and was not convenient for sale because of its historic significance. In 2010 the airport partly began to be used as a park.

In a similar attempt to provide housing for refugees, some sports facilities have been turned into emergency shelters as Berlin and other German cities are running out of space to accommodate the large number of refugees.

As the refugee crisis deepens all over the Europe, thousands of refugees continue to flee poverty and war in their countries.

Berlin officials said in September 2016 alone at least 200,000 refugees entered Germany and the number is expected to rise to up to 1 billion by the end of 2015.

On Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to concerns that Germany wasn’t able to cope with the large number of refugees by saying the country was obligated to protect people under the Geneva Convention.

“But we don’t have the task of keeping everyone here for life” she said, adding that most of the refugees will get only three years of residency and will likely want to return to Syria in order to rebuild the warn torn country.  

TRTWorld and agencies