The Berlin airport operating company has commissioned a team of historians with a research into the Nazi past of the aviation location Schönefeld


Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH has its head office on the former premises of the company Henschel Flugzeug-Werke. During the National Socialist era this subsidiary of the Kassel-based company Henschel & Sohn, founded in 1934, developed into one of the most important German armaments factory for fighter planes and glider bombs. 

In Schönefeld, aircraft, weapons and weapons systems were developed, tested and manufactured that brought death and destruction to the whole of Europe.

Little has been known until now about this part of the history of the aviation location Schönefeld. A team of renowned scientists has researched this at the commission of the airport operating company. The book “Im Dienst des nationalsozialistischen Krieges – Der erste Flugplatz in Schönefeld (At the Service of the National Socialist War- Schönefeld’s First Airfield)” by the authors Prof. Dr. Harald Bodenschatz of the TU Berlin and Prof. Dr. Christoph Bernhardt, Stefanie Brünenberg and Dr. Andreas Butter of the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) Erkner was presented in Schönefeld on August 16th 2021. The research results will shortly be available online.

Henschel-Werke © Henschel Museum

In this publication, the setting up of Henschel Flugzeug-Werke complete with an airfield, the military research and production that went on there and the importance of the Schönefeld location within the armaments landscape of Berlin and its environs are presented in an overall context for the first time.

As well as upon an assessment of the buildings from an architectural history point of view, a further main focus is upon the military research and the production conditions at Henschel Flugzeug-Werke. The aircraft manufactured in series in Schönefeld destroyed cities in, for example, Spain, England and Poland as well as the Soviet Union, thereby killing not only soldiers but large numbers of civilians also. Forced labourers were made to produce replenishments for the German war machinery in Henschel-Werke under inhumane conditions. For many of them, Schönefeld was a “place of terror”, where hunger, sickness and death were the order of the day.

Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chairman of the Management Board of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH says: Many buildings that were part of Henschel Flugzeug-Werke are still intact today and used daily by those working for our airport operating company. We are conscious of the significance of this location for war, death and destruction everywhere in Europe. The history of the aviation location Schönefeld during the Nazi dictatorship must not be allowed to be forgotten. So-called ‘alien workers’ from the occupied territories, forced labourers, prisoners of war, women and girls from concentration camps were made, under inhumane conditions, to produce replenishments for the German war machinery, which then destroyed their own home countries. We want to provide for clarification on this point and confront it aggressively. And we also want to send out a signal. The aviation location Schönefeld and thus also the new airport Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt today stand for the peaceful coexistence of mankind, for freedom and understanding between peoples, for tolerance and respect.


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