In the garden city of Neu-Tempelhof, which was built in 1911 and is known as the “Fliegerviertel,” (aviator district) numerous streets are named after German pilots due to its proximity to the Tempelhof airfield. Here one can find 16 streets named after soldiers of the German Air Force in the First World War. However, the act of naming streets after these veterans problematic. Under National Socialism, fighter pilots who died in the war were iconized as heroes. Through film and book adaptations, their “heroic deeds” were meant to motivate young people to enlist in military service. The most famous example here is the portrayal of Manfred von Richthofen (1892 – 1918), the so-called “Red Baron.”
In 1935 Hermann Göring (1893 – 1946) established “German Air Force Honor Day” in honor of Baron von Richthofen on the anniversary of his death, April 21. On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of his death in 1936, 16 streets were given the names of World War I fighter pilots on Göring’s instructions. All of the streets in the “Fliegerviertel” were thus named for propaganda purposes under National Socialsm. The streets commemorated on “German Air Force Honor Day” on April 21, 1936 were Manfred-von-Richthofen-Straße, Bäumerplan, Boelcke Strasse, Gontermannstraße, Eschwegering, Hoeppnerstraße, Kleineweg, Leonhardyweg, Loewenhardtdamm, Peter-Strasser-Weg, Schreiberring, Thuyring, Werner-Voß-Damm, Wintgensstraße, Wolffring and Wüsthoffstrasse.
During the ceremony, the Inspector General of the Air Force, Erhard Milch (1892 – 1972), paid tribute to the “heroes” and the naming ceremony was celebrated in the National Socialist newspaper “Völkischer Beobachter“.
The “Fliegerviertel” after the World War II
After World War II, the Berlin Magistrate planned to rename all of the streets in the neighborhood. The names of aviators were to be replaced by pacifist writers. For example, instead of Manfred-von-Richthofen-Straße, the plan was to name it Mühsamstrasse after the publicist Erich Mühsam (1898 – 1934). However, this did not happen. Instead, the street was named after the pilot and NSDAP member Ernst Udet (1896 – 1941) in 1957.
In 2004, the SPD parliamentary group campaigned for a previously unnamed private street in the “Fliegerviertel” to be named after Amelie “Melli” Beese (1886 – 1925) – the first female German pilot – in order to also honor a woman.