While wandering the streets of Tegel, we passed a place that is still a testimony to the occupation of Berlin – the Gare Française de Tegel. A rather inconspicuous building that was the terminus of the French train.
How does a French military station come to Berlin-Tegel?
After the military forces had occupied Berlin and “divided it up” among themselves, the French forces were present in the north of Berlin. However, they did not have a train station in “their” piece of Berlin. Thus, they initially used the Americans’ station in Wannsee and drove their French military trains as far as Baden-Baden.
On December 6, 1947, the French Allies put the Buddestraße station in Tegel into operation. This had previously been used as a freight station in Tegel and, after some modifications, could now also be used for passenger traffic. The then French city commander Jean Ganeval ceremoniously opened the station. Thanks to this station and the adjoining rail line, the French were the only Western forces with a direct rail connection to their homeland. This was only interrupted during the Berlin blockade and operated continuously during the remaining years.
Who rode on the French train?
A French military train (TMFB – train militaire français de Berlin) ran from then on three times a week from Tegel to Strasbourg. This direct transport connection from Tegel to French stations was known to Berliners as “French trains”.
The military used the train to transport not only military and supply goods and members of the armed forces. Later, with special permits, French school classes and exchange students and family members of the military forces were also allowed to travel by train to Berlin. The use was free of charge.
If a member of the French occupation forces died, he was transported back to France in a refrigerated truck from Tegel.
The French allies stopped train traffic in 1994 when they withdrew from Berlin.
The Gare Française de Tegel station building
The Gare Française de Tegel is located on Buddestraße in Tegel. The terminal building is a small well-preserved half-timbered building. On the long sides are the entrances to the building, which lead into an entrance hall. The lettering “Gare Française de Tegel” is on the building and other signs also indicate the main French-speaking use.
Today, you can no longer simply enter the building. It belongs to the neighboring retirement home and is used as a function room. In the past, there were offices and a toilet area next to the entrance hall, which could be reached from the outside.
Between the road and the station runs a track that was used for passenger traffic. In addition, there was a siding to the French barracks Quartier Napoléon.