Flugzeughallen der Fliegerstation Berlin-Friedrichsfelde (Karlshorst Hangars)

Filed 26/6/2015 | Updated 13/11/2019
He moved in the morning right after the fire. The Great Fire, he called it. An infernal inferno that was seen for miles around, it cleansed the abode, purged impurities, washed away his inhibitions and left a pristine canvas for him to occupy the wall. He needed no second invitation.
Some blame senseless idiots for setting the old airport hangars on fire but there’s no such thing as chance. Those morons knew not what they were doing. Vickamortis did. He may even have made them do it; he told me not to say. Now he’s at home, with only deer and the grounded spirits of bitter airmen for company.
It sure is quiet, quieter than before when brash planes used to roar in and roar out of the Flugzeughallen like the demanding machines they were. It’s been a while since their glory days at Fliegerstation Berlin-Friedrichsfelde and that’s exactly how Vickamortis likes it. He doesn’t give a damn for his attention-seeking predecessors, not a jot for the Russians who succeeded them, and he certainly doesn’t give one iota of a shit about anyone who comes to annoy him now. The die is cast, his job is done.
The six Flugzeughallen with their 16 distinctive domed canopies (there used to be 18) are done too, it seems. Their time has passed, their future insecure. All around is being converted to apartments.
The hangars were constructed to Josef Rank’s plans between 1916-17 for the former Fliegerstation Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, according to Christina Czymay of the Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, which allegedly exists to protect buildings of historical importance.
A single-track railway line was built to service the airfield from Kaulsdorf to the northeast in 1917. Newspapers reported at the time that freight trains were running day and night and that a second line could be built. However, fares became too expensive and it all came to nothing. The underused track was eventually done away with in the early 1930s.
The land was previously used by Siemens-Schuckert for building airships. Of course it was! Wilhelm von Siemens began constructing and testing airships here in 1907. People spoke of “Flugplatz Biesdorf” (Biesdorf Airfield) and “Flughafen Karlshorst” (Karlshorst Airport) but let’s just stick with “Fliegerstation Berlin-Friedrichsfelde” for simplicity’s sake. Later it became known as “Militärflugplatz Friedrichsfelde” (Friedrichsfelde Military Airfield).
Apparently the hangars feature a remarkably early use of reinforced concrete – in contrast to most at the time that were constructed using wood or iron – and they provide important architectural relics of aviation history, particularly that of military aviation.
Czymay says the hangars’ preservation is even more important as similar facilities at Döberitz and Jüterbog were deconstructed after the First World War because of the Versailles Treaty (1919), which prohibited Germany’s use of aircraft.
The Karlshorst hangars survived, though they were quiet for a while, until the Nazis took over and revived the area’s militarial tendencies by constructing the Pionierschule (Pioneer school) at Zwieseler Straße. Nearly 20 buildings were constructed, including the main building with classrooms and a large auditorium. There were also sports facilities including a swimming pool and riding school, as well as garages for motorized vehicles. Lessons aptly began on April 1, 1937. If only they’d waited a day…
The Russians took over after the next war of course, and they made good use of the Nazis’ facilities, turning Karlshorst into their military administration HQ for Germany (SMAD). There’s talk of the Stasi and the German wing of the KGB having facilities here. Who knows? Wikileaks haven’t released the Karlshorst Cables yet.
I’m not sure what the Russians did with the Flugzeughallen in this time, perhaps they even used them, but they left them anyway once they departed in 1994. I know this because they’re still there, for now.
Czymay says that the Karlshorst hangars’ preservation isn’t guaranteed, despite their protected status. It seems “Denkmalschutz” really is a toothless tiger.
Despite the tiger’s worthless roars, there are plans to convert the historical hangars into apartments – 24 occupying each one – as part of the “Gartenstadt Karlshorst” housing complex. Nothing is sacred. But the hangars hang on, and now with Vickamortis they’ve another hanger on.

Old airplane hangars belonging to the former Fliegerstation Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, later Militärflugplatz Friedrichsfelde, an airfield that was turned to military use as people got more militant for various reasons back in the day. Thankfully there are no such reasons for people to get as militant today.

Köpenicker Allee, Karlshorst, 10318 Berlin, Germany.

How to get there
Get the S-Bahn to Karlshorst or cycle if it’s a nice day, follow the signs for the excellent Deutsch-Russisches Museum (the building where Germany surrendered for a second time after the Second World War, to the Soviets), and turn right onto Köpenicker Allee before you get to the museum (or go to it too, it’s worth a visit), cycle down the road a bit and take your first left. The hangars will be hanging on to your right. They used to be on the left too but I’m not sure if they’re still there. Here’s a map to make it even easier.

Getting in
Find where there’s a gap in the fence close to a pole. It’s pretty obvious, just look where someone has lifted it up. Do, however, take great care on the other side of the fence as there’s a giant hole lurking that could smash up your ankle if you weren’t watching your step. Watch your fucking step! Then proceed through the foliage and you’re in. You could also climb over the wall as I did on my first visit before I noticed the easier way on my second.

When to go
Daytime is best for sightseeing, darkness for naughty behavior that might be frowned upon by middle-aged Germans. Builders are busy out the front during the day so you’ll need to avoid them. They’re not there on Sundays though.

Difficulty rating
3/10, quite easy. Just keep the head down, stay quiet, and you’ll be fine.

Who to bring
Like-minded explorers, budding street artists.

What to bring
Bier, wodka, whiskey or tequila. A camera if you want to take pictures, food if you want to eat, a stick to beat off the toothless tiger.

Builders out the front, nosy industrial neighbors, Polizei. No need for too much concern. Deer roam the grounds but they’re more afraid of you than you need to be of them. The scariest thing here is the crazy echo of your tiptoes as you tiptoe o o o o o o o through the hangars.

UPDATE: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Vickamortis is gone, but the hangars are still hanging on, just about. New creatures have moved in, and it remains to be seen how long they’ll be able to call the Flugzeughallen home.
The pictures you see at the bottom were taken in the summer.
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Heya. Map doesn't work. Thx in advance. cheerio :)

I live pretty close and I walk by from time to time. It looks like the halls are about to be torn down, so you adventurers better hurry. Most of the garrisons have already been turned into a housing project.

The gap in the fence is closed with NATO wire, so you have to climb over the wall.

I´ve been there yesterday.. was great!

just been there, it's really worth it

Went on Sunday ..good tip ..as there it seems a lot of building works and builders are here at the moment ..some really great art but sadly some one has decided to try and burn the place ..idiots.. great tip re fence and the hole ..it looms up quickly lol.. but be warned up by the gate some helpful soul has placed razor wire if your in the market for a shave then try it But i think it will be gone soon. Walking through the hangers is acoustic weirdness alright loved it.

did the fire damage a lot of the place? is it easy to find the spot to get in?

I was there last Friday at 4 pm. You can access the place by crawling under one of the main gates. In addition, there is a hole in the fence next to the main gate in Straße am Heizhaus. I saw a few excavators bot no construction workers. The place still looks like on the pictures above. So enjoy this place as long as you can!

really really easy to get in, we just jumped over a wall and there we were in! Pretty nice place, worth the visit!

ich war am 29.3.2016 da und bagger sind gerade am abriss

Went there yesturday, almost all the buildings are torn down. Now its mostly just piles of rubble. Construction workers were covering the whole site. There was still a hole in the fence but we didnt enter because the workers were everywhere. Maybe better to go on Sunday when they arent working.

Was there this week. There are still construction workers on the site. In the part southern of the "Strasse am Heizhaus" they are working in the front and back of the halls - no chance to enter without been seen. The hole in the fence is still there but the've but two large concrete blocks behind it, so if you want to get in, you have to climb over the wall (app. 170cm, so no real matter). The halls nother of the streen are behind barb wire on one side. I think you have to climb over the fence in the east. But there is only open field, you will be seen if there is traffic on the street.
We returned totally soaked and without pics. If you want to make it better, you probably come on a weekend and when it's not raining.

how much police is there? i want to go there tomorror

I was there today (27. Oct. 2017). Went in through the main gate, which was open when I passed by. I walked around a bit, and nobody was there. It's a cool place, but not really that much to see. But I imagine having a techno party under one of the round roofs would be awesome :) Anyways, when I was there, suddenly an angry man came and asked my what I was doing there. I said to him that I just went in to see what it was becauase the gate was open. He asked me to go out or he would call the police. He said that he was there to set his security dogs looose, so I was pretty lycky he saw me before doing that an closing the gate :-)

All in all, it's a cool place for some light urban exploring, maybe a little photoshoot or something, but there are really not that much to see. It's very easy to get in though, also when the gate is not open! Good luck guys!

Was there today 2018/01/15. Easy to climb over the wall. Only the buildings with the cuppolas left, but the sound is really amazing, I can not describe how cool... be careful. It seemes, that parts of it are used as material storage. Luckily no one was there, but it was a quick visit in jump and run style. Maybe sunday is a better day to go to avoid any workers. Really cooler little place

We went there today 2018/03/10. Seems there is a lot of demolishing ongoing. Some of the buildings and murals shown above do not exist anymore. Anyway multiple hangars are still in place and easily accessible by crouching under a hole in the fence. The acoustics of the hangars are amazing, bring some speakers!

Any update how the situation looks like today ? We think of having a peek this week-end if it hasn't been demolished yet :)

Went there yesterday and got some amazing field recordings. Still easy to get in with the hole under the fence, still lots to see.

We went there on 10th of August (Saturday). No one else around, also no construction workers. When you turn into the street "Am alten Flugplatz" from "Köpenicker Allee", only the hangars on your right hand side are accessible. The field on the left is now full of apartments. The empty hangars on the right are amazing though! The last hangar is full of wood and pallets so it seems pretty used. Might be good to watch out if you go there during the week. But definitely worth visiting!

The only hole in the fence I could find was quite far from the hangars, and there's no bushes, so you would be totally visible, and the concrete wall feels too high and thin to easily climb over. I was there on a Saturday but there were too many passers-by, so I came back on a Monday but someone was driving a forklift around the site.

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