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What Happened At Fuhlsbuettel 1939-1945?  
User currently offlineAyostoLeon From Australia, joined May 2013, 602 posts, RR: 5
Posted (5 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 2720 times:

Hamburg Airport is one of the longest functioning airports in Germany and was one of the points served on the first regular international route offered.

Four days before German troops invaded Poland the airport was closed to civilian traffic. From then on the airport was apparently used for supply, courier and reconnaissance flights. A flight training school was also established according to the history published to commemorate the airport's centenary in 2011.

That history includes a photo showing part of the airport covered by camouflage nets and part of the grounds covered with trees. When the British took possession of the airport in 1945 it was largely intact, having avoided the bombing that affected other airports.

The location of the airport was known and, even allowing for the absence of modern positioning and visibility technologies, simple camouflage can not explain why the airport was spared the destruction others faced.

My questions are twofold: while under the control of the Luftwaffe what purpose did the airport serve? The response given in the published history is that records were destroyed so we don't know. While records might have been burnt, surely some people employed at the time would have survived. What are their memories?

Secondly, while other targets may have had greater priority, why wasn't Fuhlsbuettel selected as a target?

[Edited 2013-10-27 07:53:41]


The person with no dignity eats his dinner twice
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineptrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 3884 posts, RR: 19
Reply 1, posted (5 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2656 times:

Hi Ayostus,

I would take the information from the airport with a grain of salt. I'm not an expert but if there was a Luftwaffe flying school at Fühlsbuttel during WWII, some information should be easy to find. Instead, you find information about a flying school there during WWI. I guess the burnt records are just an excuse to skip WWII in the commercial airport's history.

Maybe the Luftwaffe didn't use it too much for some reason, and maybe that was why it wasn't too much of a target?

Peter 



The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7345 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (5 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2602 times:

Quoting AyostoLeon (Thread starter):
My questions are twofold: while under the control of the Luftwaffe what purpose did the airport serve? The response given in the published history is that records were destroyed so we don't know. While records might have been burnt, surely some people employed at the time would have survived. What are their memories?

Historians vastly prefer written records of activities over personal recollections. Especially over controversial issues such as the role of an airfield during a war. Personal memories need to be recorded in a structured manner to be most useful for historians.

However, I strongly suspect the published airport history is selective in describing the airport role in WWII.

One thing not in the history is the nearby prison turned into one of the earliest concentration camps/ collection center.



Quoting AyostoLeon (Thread starter):
Secondly, while other targets may have had greater priority, why wasn't Fuhlsbuettel selected as a target?

Hamburg was a primary bombing target from the first raids in early 1940 up until captured by the Allies in April 1945.

The highest priority targets were always the oil refineries, oil storage tanks, shipyards, manufacturing plants and submarine pens.

Most likely too many other higher priority targets in the area. If the airfield was not used as an active fighter base, or as a bomber base for attacks against Allied troops - there was no real reason to bomb the airfield.

The Allies did hope to capture some airfields relatively intact so they could be used as advanced bases for the rapidly moving front lines.

The RAF had the airport in operation and a key transport link in May 1945. That might have been a factor, along with the airport distance from the main industrial area of Hamburg.


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7917 posts, RR: 12
Reply 3, posted (5 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2060 times:

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 1):
I would take the information from the airport with a grain of salt.

Why? German companies normally don't really beat behind the bush when it comes to the Nazi era, so why would the airport do that - of all companies? I find that a bit laughable, really. Fuhlsbüttel isn't IG Farben.

Quoting AyostoLeon (Thread starter):
simple camouflage can not explain why the airport was spared the destruction others faced.

Actually, yes it can, and it isn't simple. The airport isn't the only example where camo worked. E.g. some submarine shelters survived WWII, too thanks to camo. The trick is to suggest that the airport's position is slightly off-site. Besides, the building probably wasn't really interesting - the aircraft were. But that's something you need to ask the RAF, not the managers of Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel. I highly doubt Fuhlsbüttel wasn't on the target list.

Quoting AyostoLeon (Thread starter):
While records might have been burnt, surely some people employed at the time would have survived.

And what do you think can those people tell you? "We used Hamburg airport as a base." And then? Remember that after WWII Germans had other things in mind than asking survivors on Fuhlsbüttel's role during WWII. Even historians were much more interested in other things than Hamburg's airport.

[Edited 2013-10-31 07:19:23]


I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineptrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 3884 posts, RR: 19
Reply 4, posted (5 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2032 times:

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 3):

Why?

Mainly because I can't find any reference to a flying school there during WWII. So I don't think they are very well informed. In a way, you are agreeing with that, because they are quite unsure whether it was the camouflage that saved their airfield, while you are saying that it probably did. Which I think is a sensible opinion.

I didn't want to suggest they are hiding anything terrible - I'm sure they are not. The fact that they lost their own records of that period, however, doesn't mean that nothing is known. But okay, they're a commerical airport, not a historical research group.

[Edited 2013-10-31 08:47:12]


The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7917 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (5 months 2 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 1993 times:

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 4):
Mainly because I can't find any reference to a flying school there during WWII.

I don't quite understand why that would be necessary. The website briefly tells the history of the airport; wouldn't the school be a different entity with a history of its own?
Besides, as you know, Hamburg's airspace was closed for civil aviation during the war and everything non-military had to leave the building. The historic summary just mentions the last company that left. They probably don't wish to bore visitors with pages of details.

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 4):
while you are saying that it probably did

Well, I didn't want to sound too certain, as I can't possibly know. Normally, I am not a fan of monocausal explanations. It could be that, as opposed to the aircraft, the airport itself wasn't that high on the list. The camo and the resulting uncertainty might just have added to that. I just wanted to stress that camouflage did not always consist of a simple net but could be very elaborate, and in the case of Fuhlsbüttel it indeed was. But you really need to ask the RAF why they spared/missed the airport.



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13797 posts, RR: 63
Reply 6, posted (5 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 1945 times:

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 3):
Besides, the building probably wasn't really interesting - the aircraft were. But that's something you need to ask the RAF, not the managers of Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel. I highly doubt Fuhlsbüttel wasn't on the target list.

First, most German airports up to 1945 were just big fields with grass runways. Only a handfull of concrete runways were built for the new Messerschmidt Me262 jet fighter (Frankfurt was one of them, the runway was built by female prisoners from Ravensbrück, quartered in a satellite camp in the forest just south of today´s airport. The USAAF took over in 1945 bevcause they could use a concrete runway for their new C-54 transports).

Secondly, staying in Hamburg, the whole city centre´s layout was changed by camouflage, IIRC after 1943,, to protect the port imstallations. E.g. the Alster lake (an easy to spot landmark right in the city centre) was covered with camouflage netting and painted on streets and fake houses built of plywood. The nearby railway station had an artificial street painted on it´s roof.

Jan


User currently offlineptrjong From Netherlands, joined Mar 2005, 3884 posts, RR: 19
Reply 7, posted (5 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 1907 times:

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 5):
I don't quite understand why that would be necessary.

The reference is on the airport website but I can't find anything about it elsewhere.



The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali)
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