THE ABANDONED MILITARY SITE IN GERMANY
Flugplatz Schönwalde is an abandoned airfield that was used by the German Luftwaffe en the Soviet Red Army. Today the old structures are almost in ruins and used by paintball enthusiasts.
The history of the Schönwalde airfield, situated only a few kilometers from the Berlin city limits at the Spandauer Forst, begins in 1935. At that time, the Reich Aviation Ministry bought the meadows of the Teufelsbruch in order to build Sportflugplatz Hennigsdorf.
Building military sites was prohibited for Germany, because of the Versailles Treaty. But the real reason behind this airfield was not sport or leisure, in fact an air base for the Luftwaffe was built, with barracks, hangars, and a runway.
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,
Shortly before the end of the Second World War, the Red Army took over the airfield. 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.
The barracks are mainly occupied by ground troops, both an anti-aircraft unit and a rocket launcher unit are housed here. More than 8 thousand soldiers were stationed at the airfield. There was also a helicopter squadron housed in Schönwalde until 1965. Later, the area was used as barracks and military training area until the Soviet troops withdrew in 1994. The large building complex stands empty today and is waiting for an idea of re-use. 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.