Friday, July 24, 2009

The Berlin Airlift

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift. The heroic efforts of the United States and her Allies saved more than 2 million men, women and children in Berlin.

The Berlin Airlift began on June 26, 1948. The Soviets sealed off the western portion of Berlin controlled by American, British and French forces. In response, the western allies took to the skies and began flying in provisions for West Berlin’s 2.2 million residents, an effort that grew into the Berlin Airlift.

In one of the greatest humanitarian actions of all time, American and British aircraft supplied the inhabitants of Berlin with food, fuel and other supplies during the unprecedented Berlin Airlift, which came to be known as “Operation Vittles”. At midnight on May 12, 1949, the Soviets reopened land and water routes into Berlin ending the 322-day blockade of Berlin.

Newest class of US Air Force pilots grouped in front of C-47 & C-54 cargo transport planes which they are training to fly during Operation Vittles, the plan to break the Soviet blockade of Berlin, aka the Berlin Airlift. Great Falls, Montana - October 1948 - LIFE Magazine - Photographer: J. R. Eyerman.

Citizens of Berlin stand amid rubble near the edge of Tempelhof Airfield to watch an American C-47 cargo plane arrive with food & supplies, part of the Allied effort to counter a Soviet blockade of the city during the Berlin airlift - July 1948 - LIFE Magazine - Photographer: Walter Sanders.

Rhein-Main Airfield in Frankfurt at night showing streaks of landing lights of C-54 during Berlin Airlift operation - July 1948 - LIFE Magazine - Photographer: Walter Sanders.


Major Pepperidge said...

Is this related to something I think was referred to as "Kinderlift"? I have some old slides from Germany showing large groups of children waiting an at airport, presumably about to board military craft leaving the country.

Viewliner Ltd. said...

MAJOR, From 1953 through 1958, USAF Europe operated "Kinderlift" flights during the months of July and August. This program flew about 2,000 underprivileged German children each year from Berlin to West Germany for a month's vacation in German and American homes.

Anonymous said...

Berlin votes to keep Tempelhof an architectural monument

Berlin’s Tempelhof-Schöneberg district voted overwhelmingly in a referendum on Sunday to keep the storied Tempelhof airport a monument.

Of 90,000 votes, some 60,000 were in favour of preserving the world’s first commercial airport. Just 38,000 were needed for the recommendation to go through at the Berlin district office.

Berlin residents failed to turn out and vote to save Tempelhof in April 2008, but activist group petitioned for the referendum to ensure that it will be preserved in a manner that could eventually garner UNESCO World Heritage status.

“We hardly expected such a good result,” activist group member Ines Nagel told daily Berliner Morgenpost on Monday morning while celebrating in a local cafe.

The group doesn’t necessarily think the airport should function as it has in the past, though.

“We are trying for a use that respects the historical significance of the place and protects its form 85 years into the future,” group delegate Volker Perplies told the paper.

Tempelhof was erected in 1923, but is best known for its Nazi-era main terminal. After the Second World War, Allied pilots ferried supplies into the airport in West Berlin when the Soviets tried to starve the city into submission in 1948-49. But Tempelhof's passenger numbers have dwindled in recent years despite its prime location.

Most Berlin flights are from Tegel on Berlin's northwest fringe, which is also due to shut down before the expanded Schönefeld facility becomes the capital's sole airport in three years.

Some Berlin politicians have called for the massive swathe of open space and the accompanying buildings to be repurposed for housing and recreation, though plans are still pending.

Hlaiw said...

I have only one feeling about that blockade - blockade of the peaceful city at the peaceful time: the shame.
The shame, because I'm russian.