She stands in the evening sun, silent and majestic, open arms stretched out to all, inviting them in to wander through her high, cathedral-like hall. We took some Swedish friends who are visiting to look around the Templehof Airport, and we were not alone. There were more tourists, I think, than passengers, because the airport is supposed to be closing soon. Closing now to "make way" for a large airport outside of the city that won't be finished maybe until 2011.

Tempelhof is in the middle of town, you can take a subway there, an S-train stops not too far away, you drive right by it on your many paths through the city. Only the small airlines are left here, you can travel from Berlin to Brussels, Mannheim, Växjö. They are waiting, and hoping for a miracle - a miracle that would keep the airport alive.

A rather motley alliance put forth a general referendum and collected enough signatures to force a vote: The citizens of Berlin kindly request that their government get off their duffs and quit acting like f-ing idiots and quit all this nonsense talk about closing the airport.

The closing was decided 20 years ago. They still don't have any idea what they would do with the area. Maybe a park? Maybe some apartments (although Berlin has tons empty)? Maybe a clinic? Helicopters could still land here.

Berliners tend to have very fond memories of Templehof. The Air Bridge that American pilots ran here, starting and landing every 3 minutes round the clock brought food and fuel into the city during the blockade. It kept the citizens alive. The stars arrived here. The first air vacations were started here. It was jobs. Sure, it was loud, but in a way it was a comfy old friend.

Most Berliners were rather indifferent to the election until about a week ago when the Lord Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, did a typical political foot-in-mouth stunt. He announced to the media that he didn't give a flying farkle what the result of the referendum was. He was going to close the airport, full stop.

Well, if there's one thing Berliners don't like, that is people telling them what they have to think. They didn't go through the Cold War and the Blockade and the German Democratic Republic and the fall of the wall to have some party guy telling them off. They are enraged, and the media is having a feeding frenzy.

I just got back from voting - a steady stream of voters, I had to stand in line. Of course, they redrew the districts so that there would be less polling places and thus more voters per polling place. A vote like this is easy to count: make two piles, yes and no, and count them. End of story. No re-sorting for first and second vote. Don't need a computer for this. For some reason they are not expecting the results until 3 hours after the polls close.

We shall see if the Lord Mayor will be served a dish of crow this evening. But which ever way it goes, his chances of ever getting out of Berlin and being maybe Chancellor of Germany went down drastically in the past week. Stay tuned.

Update: No such luck. 60% of the voters wanted to keep the airport, but with a turnout of only 35% the needed quorum (25% of the voters must vote yes, they just missed this) was narrowly missed. So she gets closed down. Maybe they'll put in a parking lot.....

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