17Airbase

Darrweg 42
(Darrweg/Richthofenstraße)

Newspaper advert for an event at the airbase
Nordhäuser Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 April 1936 (Stadtarchiv Nordhausen)

With the reintroduction of general conscription in the spring of 1935, the Reich government under Hitler violated the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty. At the same time, the National Socialist regime unmasked its previously secretly formed air force. This marked the beginning of Germany's open rearmament policy and preparations for war.

In Nordhausen the preparations for war began in 1935, when the Luftwaffe built a military airfield with adjoining barracks in the south of the city. On 7 April 1936, 550 soldiers from the new air base marched through the town to the Kornmarkt for the first time, where their commander ceremoniously reported the unit to the mayor of Nordhausen. Most of the residents of Nordhausen, who had gathered in large numbers to attend this event, were enthusiastic about Nordhausen's new status as a garrison town.

The Nordhausen airbase was primarily used as a training and testing ground for the Luftwaffe. An aircraft hangar was also in operation here for a time. Around 1935/36, the Boelcke-Kaserne was also built in the south-east of Nordhausen, into which a training battalion for air intelligence soldiers moved, which remained stationed in the town until the end of 1944.

In the early years of its existence, Nordhausen airbase was a public venue for National Socialist war propaganda and the militarisation of public life. Every year, the "Day of the Luftwaffe" was celebrated here with great fanfare. Military parades by air force soldiers, sightseeing flights for guests and shooting practice for young visitors were the highlights of these events, which were very popular with many Nordhausen residents and fuelled enthusiasm for the war.

In September 1939, the pilots stationed in Nordhausen flew air raids against Poland and later against England and the Soviet Union. Some of the aircrew trained in Nordhausen had already gained their first experience of air warfare in the "Condor Legion", including during the attack on Guernica, which almost completely destroyed the basque town in northern Spain and claimed hundreds of civilian lives.

The former airbase buildings on Darrweg are now home to the state police department of northern Thuringia.