Berlin-Tempelhof, Hitler’s favourite airport, could yet be rescued by one of the world’s most influential Jewish philanthropists.

Cosmetics billionaire, New York socialite and art collector Ronald Lauder – son of the celebrated Estée Lauder - is behind a €350m (£235m) project to turn the Third Reich architectural relic into a luxury fly-in health clinic for Europe’s super rich.

Berlin's cash-strapped city fathers earlier this year finally cleared the way to develop the proposed new Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI) on the site of the present Schönefeld airport to the south east of the city, handling an annual 22 million passengers.

Inner city Tempelhof - as well as Tegel - was earmarked for closure as a result.


One of the few remaining pieces of Nazi architecture left in Berlin, the 104-year old airport existed well before the regime came to power: Orville Wright was one of the first to land there in 1903 while the first Zeppelin was exhibited six years later.

Hitler and his master planner, Albert Speer conceived a vision to convert Tempelhof into a massive celebration of fascist power designed to handle an annual six million people.

Architect Sagebiel was subsequently commissioned to build a raised stand for 65,000 spectators on the roof of the 3,000ft (900m) concave terminal to greet the Führer’s homecomings.

The airport’s historical role figured once again when it provided crucial access to West Berlin during the Western Allies’ Berlin Airlift in 1948.

Planners have been searching desperately for a use for the airport following its scheduled closure in October 2008 and under Lauder’s plans one of the two runways would be retained so that wealthy patients could visit using their own private jets.

Andreas Kaden, managing director of Schönefeld-based Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services is also president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Aerospace Association.

“Tempelhof is losing millions of euros every year and corporate aviation is certainly not going to provide the money needed to keep it going.

It however still has general aviation potential but it is fair to say that we are lacking ideas.

“The decision to close Tempelhof was taken very early on in the process of reviewing airport provision in the Berlin area and it has and continues to be the subject of constant discussion.”