1935 to 1945

Bustling civil aviation gives way to military use

Commercial aeroplanes first started taking off and landing at the new Dresden Airport on 11 July 1935. By then there was already something of a tradition of aviation in Dresden dating back to the 1920s: at the Kaditz and Heller aerodromes to begin with (since 1913 and 1926 respectively), and also at the Johannstadt water aerodrome. As German rearmament gathered pace after 1933, the Reich authorities pressed for the construction of a new, more efficient military and commercial airport.

After just twelve months of planning and construction, a state-of-the-art airport stood outside the gates of the city on the meadows of Klotzsche and Rähnitz: Dresden Airport. The elegant passenger and administration building, dubbed the “Hansahaus” after the airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG, was to become the architectural landmark. The airport site, with its 1460 x 1025 metre airfield, offered ideal conditions for take-offs and landings, and its technical facilities were state-of-the-art. An aircraft hangar with an area of almost 3000 m2 was big enough to accommodate even the largest passenger planes of the day.

Air traffic soon began to pick up. The busiest route, jointly operated by Lufthansa and Austrian and Czech airlines, was from Berlin via Dresden to Prague and Vienna. More routes were opened to Breslau (Wroclaw), Cologne, Halle/Leipzig, Hanover, Hamburg and other cities. In 1937 the airport handled 7913 passengers - its highest annual capacity before the outbreak of World War II.

At the same time as the airport was built, an aerial warfare training centre was set up on extensive grounds immediately adjoining the airport, where officers of the Luftwaffe were trained from 1936. Almost sixty buildings, including five aircraft hangers, were built. The training exercises of the aerial warfare training centre became the dominant activity at the airport. So it was a logical step for the Luftwaffe to take over administration of the entire airport on 1 April 1937. Dresden Airport continued to be used for civil aviation until early 1940, but World War II ultimately put an end to air travel. The airport became an air base from which Luftwaffe training units and troops operated right up until the final hours of the war.

1945 to 1961: Airport resumes civil flights; growth of a new aviation industry