Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
On June 24th, 1948 the Berlin Blockade began – West Berlin, surrounded by Soviet ruled territories, is almost completely cut off from any supplies from the outside, necessary for the city´s survival. That is, the blockade applies only to those goods which can be provided through land-, rail- and waterways. The Soviets are trying to put West Berliners under enough pressure to make them accept the kind offer from the East to accept their goods and thus to accept the Soviet sovereignty.
It might have sounded harmless and almost generous but meant, of course, accepting total control of the USSR over those zones of occupied Berlin which were to be administered by the Western Allies: the French, the Americans and the Brits. And as such the offer was rejected.
As a result for almost exactly 12 months the western part of Germany´s capital will be kept on a life-supporting machine in the shape of a western aeroplane: endless tonnes of food, coal, fuel, wood, machinery, etc. – up to 6,000 tonnes per day transported in 1,500 flights over sometimes 24h – will be carried by them from West Germany´s airports and brought in sometimes a five-minute tact (at Tempelhof a 90-second tact) to keep West Berliners in good health.
It worked. In the end even the Soviets were impressed. And they gave in, agreeing to something they pretty badly wanted to avoid: the creation of two independent states: Bundesrepublik Deutschland or BDR in the west and Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR in the east and the official division of Berlin.
You can follow the whole story of Berlin Airlift at German Museum of Technology (Technik Museum) in Trebbiner Strasse 9 in Berlin-Kreuzberg – we wrote more about the exhibition and the unique element of the museum´s main façade in an older post here.
Here is an interesting short documentary presenting the main events that led to and took place during Berlin Airlift: