Abandoned Airfield Rangsdorf – Rangsdorf, Germany - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Rangsdorf, Germany

Abandoned Airfield Rangsdorf

The ruined remains of the airport Claus von Stauffenberg departed in his failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. 

The airfield in the city of Rangsdorf, located in Brandenburg just south of Berlin, opened in 1936 on the eve of the Olympic Games in Berlin. In the years that followed, the airport—now long empty and being slowly overrun by nature—bore witness to an array of remarkable historic events.

At first only intended as a sporting airport, Rangsdorf eventually began handling all international flights into and out of Berlin. During World War II it became a military base and housed an aircraft company that constructed parts for fighter planes and bombers.

On July 20th 1944 an event occurred that would insure the airport went down in history. Around seven o’clock in the morning Claus von Stauffenberg and Werner von Haeften took off from Rangsdorf to fly to Ketrzyn (Rastenburg) to attend a meeting at Hitler’s Wolfsschanze, the Wolf’s Lair. There, Stauffenburg attempted to assassinate the Führer, a plot that unfortunately failed.

Later that day the men returned to Rastenburg still believing Adolf Hitler was dead. They returned to Bendlerblock in Berlin, the General Army Office and their workplace, to take part in the planned coup to take over Germany. When it became clear that Hitler was still alive, Stauffenberg and von Haften were shot at Bendlerblock, along with three other co-conspirators. A plaque stands today among the airport remains commemorating those events.

The airfield’s other, happier claim to fame was its flight school. It was here that Beate Uhse, who would later become a stunt pilot and found the world’s first sex shop, learned how to fly, and many celebrities at the time started their sport flights, including German actor Heinz Ruehmann, female stunt flyer Elly Beinhorn and Grand Prix Racing Driver Bernd Rosemeyer.

In 1945 the airport and aircraft company were taken over by the Soviet Army. Rangsdorf remained a Russian Air Force base from then on, until Red Army troops withdrew from Germany in 1994. The airport has been abandoned ever since.

Know Before You Go

The Airport can be found about 26 km south of the citycenter of Berlin, about 2 km south of Rangsdorf.