Flugplatz Schönwalde


Flugplatz Schönwalde is an abandoned airfield that was used by the German Luftwaffe en the Soviet Red Army. It was a strategic outpost situated just kilometers from Berlin’s city limits. Today, the old structures are almost in ruins and used by paintball enthusiasts.

The history of the Schönwalde airfield, located just a few kilometers from the Berlin city limits at the Spandauer Forst, dates back to 1935. During that time, the Reich Aviation Ministry acquired the Teufelsbruch meadows with the intention of establishing the Sportflugplatz Hennigsdorf. Officially, this complex was meant to serve as a place for leisure and sports activities.

However, beneath the surface, the true purpose of this airfield was far from recreational. Following World War I, when the Versailles Treaty prohibited Germany from constructing military sites, Schönwalde secretly operated as a military airbase for the Luftwaffe. Its facilities included barracks, hangars, and a functional runway1. Despite its initial guise, the airfield played a significant role in military operations during its existence.


Until 1943 it housed the ‘Flieger-, Übungs- und Ausbildungsstelle’ who trained military pilots. In 1936, it was renamed Flugzeugführerschulen when the flight school moved here from Hennigsdorf. The base had satellite airfields in Kreuzbruch, Friederdorf, Gardelegen and Neustadt-Glewe. The Pilot Schools imparted the theoretical knowledge in science of both the aircraft and engine, fluid dynamics and movement theory, weather, air geography and navigation,

Red Army

In the twilight of the Second World War, the Red Army descended upon Schönwalde Airfield. What followed was a complex dance of military interests, shifting alliances, and the inexorable march of time. Further use as a military airfield turned out to be difficult because the complex was located directly in the air corridor from West Berlin to Hamburg, which was controlled by the Western Allies.

Ground troops predominantly occupy the barracks, housing both an anti-aircraft unit and a rocket launcher unit. Over 8,000 soldiers were stationed at the airfield. Additionally, a helicopter squadron was based in Schönwalde until 1965. Subsequently, the area served as barracks and a military training ground until the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1994.

Awaiting Revival

Today, Schönwalde’s vast complex stands at the crossroads of history. Its empty halls echo with possibility. Will it become a museum, a cultural center, or perhaps a haven for artists? Only time will reveal its next act. For now, the airfield remains both a testament to conflict and a canvas for imagination. Some buildings were demolished in both 2003 and 2009. In 2010 the hangars became protected monuments. I visited the site in 2020. Today the site is partly used as a paintball field.

Built 1935
Abandoned 1994
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