Berlin Airlift

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Berliners watch a raisin bomber land at Tempelhof Airport (1948). Photograph by Henry Ries .

The Berlin Airlift served to supply the city of Berlin with aircraft from the Western Allies after the Soviet occupying forces blocked the land and waterways from the Trizone to West Berlin from June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949 by blocking Berlin . On September 30, 1949, the airlift was officially ended.


General Lucius D. Clay , Military Governor of the US Zone of Occupation
General William H. Tunner , head of the Berlin Airlift

From January 1948, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) repeatedly restricted the movement of goods and people, both for the western Allied military and civilians, from the western zones to the western sectors of Berlin, in varying lengths and times. It came to a head when, on April 1, 1948 , by order of the head of the SMAD, Vasily Danilowitsch Sokolowski , a number of roads in the Soviet sector were blocked for transports to the western sectors. The British and US Americans responded with the “small airlift ” from April 3 , which had to supply their garrisons in Berlin for two days.

The currency reform carried out by the Western Allies on June 20, 1948 in the three western zones was then used by the Soviet occupation as an occasion for an indefinite blockade.

First of all, the western sectors of Berlin were cut off from the power supply from the Soviet-occupied zone (SBZ) on the night of June 24, 1948 . At around 6 a.m. on June 24th, all freight traffic and passenger traffic by road, rail and a few days later (contrary to the written promise of 1946) also by water from the western occupation zones to West Berlin followed . When the blockade was announced, the SMAD had emphasized that the western sectors were not supplied from the Soviet Zone or East Berlin and that supplies could actually be stopped on June 25, 1948.

The governments of the Western powers had expected a reaction to the currency reform, but they were largely unprepared for this total blockade. In the next few days, the military governor of the US American zone, Lucius D. Clay , with his commitment to an airlift, prevailed over proposals by his British colleague Sir Brian Robertson to give up the occupation of Berlin in favor of all-German elections.

Supply situation

Around 2.2 million people lived in the western sectors of Berlin at that time. In addition, there were around 9,000 American, 7,600 British and 6,100 French Allied soldiers with their relatives. As a metropolis with a population of over a million, Berlin had to be supplied almost completely from the surrounding area, up to now around 75% of this had been done through imports from the western zones. At the beginning of the blockade, supplies were only stored in the western sectors for this estimated duration:

  • Food 36 days
  • Medication 6 months
  • Petrol 4-5 months
  • Motor oil 3–4 months
  • Diesel 7–8 weeks
  • Hard coal
    • for heating, cooking 35 days
    • for fresh water and waste water pumps of the waterworks 35 days
    • for power plants with strong electricity rationing 3 weeks
  • Coke 49 days
  • Brown coal briquettes 25 days

The estimates were based on extremely tight daily rations. The average daily energy requirement from food is 2400 kcal for women and 3100 kcal for men . At that time, however, “normal consumers” (NC) only received around 1500 kcal through their food cards. According to estimates by the occupying power, this could be increased by 200–500 kcal in the country through its own production, but not in the middle of a metropolis like Berlin.

And while for the upcoming winter in southern Britain, for example, around 1730 kg (34 cwt ) and even the hamburgers around 890 kg of coal per household, the British estimated that in their Berlin sector, even under optimal conditions, only about 152 kg for each household to be able to allocate the entire winter. In Berlin, the only self-help option was to cut trees in streets, private and public areas such as the zoo and, as far as civilians were able to access them, in Grunewald .

The airlift begins

GIs load a plane to West Berlin with milk
Airways during the Berlin blockade

On November 30, 1945, the western city commanders had three air corridors, each about 32 km wide, between the western occupation zones and Berlin assured in writing: the Hamburg Air Corridor (northwest) towards Hamburg, the Bueckeburg Air Corridor (west) towards Hanover (at that time with the airfields Bückeburg, Celle-Wietzenbruch and Faßberg ), and the Frankfurt Air Corridor (southwest) in the direction of Frankfurt am Main. In another written agreement dated December 31, 1945, the rules of use were laid down. Accordingly, the corridors could be used completely freely, at any time of the day, without prior notice to the other allies and by all types of aircraft of the occupying powers, including civil ones.

It turned out to be an advantage that the British allies had extended the plan, which they had implemented in the “Little Airlift” at the beginning of April 1948, several times by June 1948 under the name “Operation Knicker”. The head of the British Air Force in Berlin, Reginald "Rex" Waite , had already had a few weeks before the expansion of Operation Knicker checked whether an airlift could also supply the civilian population of West Berlin. The result showed the feasibility of supplying its own troops and the Berlin population via an airlift, at least for the warm season. Clay was informed of this on June 24, 1948. The next day he ordered Berlin's elected mayor Ernst Reuter to come over and asked him whether the Berlin population would be able to endure the limited supply from an airlift. Reuter, accompanied by Willy Brandt , replied that Clay should take care of the airlift and that he would take care of the Berliners. Berlin will make the necessary sacrifices in favor of freedom - no matter what. After the conversation, however, Reuter said that although he admired Clay's determination, he did not believe that the airlift would be possible. On the same day, Clay, in consultation with the commander of the US Air Forces in Europe Curtis E. LeMay, ordered the establishment of an airlift .

On June 26, the first aircraft of the US Air Force flew from Frankfurt (Rhein-Main Airbase) and Wiesbaden ( Wiesbaden-Erbenheim airfield ) to Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, thus starting Operation Vittles ( Operation Provisions ). The British Air Force participated in the Airlift with Operation Plainfare (initially called Operation Carter Patterson ). For the first time on June 28, 1948, she let “Dakotas” (Douglas C-47) fly from Wunstorf to Gatow airfield . From the beginning of July until the onset of the first frost in December 1948, the British also used flying boats , which because of their resistance to corrosion were preferably loaded with salt, started on the Lower Elbe near Hamburg-Finkenwerder and landed in Berlin on the Havel and the Großer Wannsee . Australia participated with Operation Pelican .

The airlift is being optimized

Unloading of Douglas C-47s at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, 1948
Berlin children re-enact the airlift with model aircraft, 1948

At first it was assumed that at most 750 tons of air freight per day would be possible. It is therefore understandable that in July 1948 of the Berliners surveyed by the Western Allies, 86% said that Berlin would not get through the winter despite the airlift, but would have to capitulate to the Russians in a few months. The East Berlin media also predicted that. But even Otto Suhr , at least head of the city ​​council at the time , said that the Western Allies would eventually give up and leave Berlin.

It was therefore obvious that the material and human resources had to be strengthened and the processes optimized in order to cope with the necessary transport volumes. This was especially true in the event that the airlift would also be necessary in the cold season, because then almost double the tonnage had to be flown in for hard coal, especially for power plants and heating.

On July 23, 1948, Lieutenant General William Henry Tunner became commander of the Combined Airlift Task Force (CALTF) established in Wiesbaden to coordinate the US Air Force and the Royal Air Force . Tunner had already organized the US airlift over the Himalayas ( The Hump ). Thanks to his experience and his dedication, by the end of July 1948 the figure was already over 2,000 tons per day.

About 2/3 of the transport volume consisted of hard coal. It was flown in mainly from Faßberg Airport, which was located in the British zone, but whose flight operations were transferred to US responsibility after a few weeks. The British transported around 33% of all relief supplies to Berlin. In contrast to the Americans, they used a large number of different types of aircraft and, organized by British European Airways (BEA), they also signed around 25 private air freight companies. Ships that had loaded grain and were destined for Great Britain as aid supplies from the USA were diverted by the British to Germany. As a result, at the time of the Airlift in Great Britain, even grain was rationed, something that had not even existed during World War II. Unlike the US-Americans, British planes often carried freight and passengers out of Berlin. For example, British planes took children from Berlin with them on their return flight, who were able to recover in West Germany to restore their health.

The massive increases in the quantities flown in were primarily due to an optimization in terms of aircraft types, runways, aircraft maintenance, unloading processes and flight routes. A sophisticated system helped with the latter: the three air corridors were used as one-way streets, with outbound flights in the northern (from Hamburg to Berlin) and southern (from Frankfurt / Main to Berlin) and the return flights in the central corridor (from Berlin to Hanover) took place. In the corridors, the planes flew in five levels with an altitude difference of 500 feet. A dramatic experience by Tunnelers on August 13, 1948 ("Black Friday") caused him to introduce another rule: approaching Wiesbaden from Wiesbaden, he was caught in a massive traffic jam of cargo planes in the airspace over Berlin, because these were not at intervals as planned due to poor visibility could land in Tempelhof within three minutes. The aircraft that followed had to be parked over Berlin at altitudes of 3,000 to 11,000 feet. Eventually the air traffic controllers lost track of things. Three planes crashed on the runway under Tunneler's machine, one of which burned out. Tunner had all neighboring cargo planes return to their base by radio in order to clear the dangerous traffic jam and land themselves safely, and ordered that in the future machines that had failed to land should fly back to their starting airport and join the chain of followers Berlin had to queue up flying planes. Since then, this system has made it possible for an airplane to land in Berlin every three minutes. In addition, the time spent on the ground was shortened from 75 to 30 minutes thanks to a similarly tight organization of maintenance work. The dropping of goods without landing, however, was discontinued after a few attempts as inexpedient.

In addition to the British and Americans, pilots from Australia , New Zealand , Canada and South Africa also flew later . France, on the other hand, was only able to take part in the airlift with a few aircraft, since the Armée de l'air was tied up in the Indochina War . It could only supply its own garrisons with Junkers Ju 52 / 3m . Instead, the French built the new Berlin-Tegel Airport in their sector . In mid-December 1948, after unsuccessful requests to the Soviet side by the French city commander Jean Ganeval , French pioneers blew up the Tegel transmitter masts , which were hindering the approach and broadcast the Soviet-controlled Berlin radio station . The station had to be relocated to Stolpe in Brandenburg.

During the blockade of West Berlin, its mayor Ernst Reuter ( SPD ) became a symbol of (West) Berlin's will to persevere. His speech on September 9, 1948 in front of the ruins of the Reichstag building “[...] Today is the day when the people of Berlin raise their voices. This people of Berlin is calling the whole world today. [...] You peoples of the world, you peoples in America, in England, in France, in Italy! Look at this city and realize that you are not allowed to give up this city and this people, you cannot give up! […] “A good two years later, on September 18, 1950, Reuter appeared on the cover of Time Magazine , which also dedicated the cover story to him.

Transport performance

over time

Experience and optimization of the processes, increasing staff and spare parts as well as improving the material resulted in a drastic increase in the daily flown quantities. From the end of August 1948, on a monthly average, they exceeded the estimated minimum requirement for the supply of food, hard coal, gasoline and diesel, medicines and other consumer goods required in summer. Although the monthly average freight performance estimated to be at least necessary for a normal winter was never achieved, the winter of 1948/49 was unusually mild. Days with limited visibility, especially due to fog, initially led to massive drops in transport performance. As a result, at the end of 1948, there were only supplies for a few days in the western sectors. At the turn of the year 1948/49, however, instrument flight on the US side was made possible by a sufficient number of aircraft through GCA and CPS-5. Another serious problem was the lack of fuel in enclosed Berlin. Soviet stocks in the western sectors had been confiscated in November 1948. At the turn of the year, the British also succeeded in fully equipping their aircraft that brought fuel to Berlin with their Rebecca-Eureka navigation technology, which enabled sufficient fuel to be flown in. Overall, the transport performance during the blockade developed as follows:

Period or day Tons (t)
per day
Imports before the blockade
in summer
estimated minimum requirement
in summer
4,500 1,360 t of this is food,
the rest coal, gasoline, diesel
estimated minimum requirement
in usual winter
10,000 especially hard coal
for heating
Transport performance of the airlift
first week 80
second week 910
July 1948 2,020
Late August 1948 4,500 Reaching
freight performance required in summer for the first time
August 1948 3,480
September 1948 4,220
October 1948 4,320
November 1948 3,430 Fog from 26. d. M.
December 1948 4.140 Fog continued until December 6th
January 1949 5,030
February 20, 1949 185 fog
February 1949 4,930
March 1949 5,740
15./16. April 1949 11,700 " Tunner's Easter Parade "
April 1949 7.120
May 12, 1949 End of the total blockade
May 1949 7,340
June 1949 not specified
July 24, 1949 Storage of supplies reached
for 2 months
July 1949 7,410
from August 1, 1949 gradually reducing
the transport capacity
August 1949 2,320
September 1949 450
September 30, 1949 last landing for airlift

summed up

From June 1948 to September 1949 there was a total of around 2.1 million tons of freight (1.6 million tons of which by US aircraft), of which 1.44 million tons of coal, 485,000 tons of food and 160,000 tons of building materials for expanding the airports, but also for the expansion of the Reuter power plant . As far as possible, dehydrated foods such as milk powder, dried vegetables, dried potatoes and flour were flown in instead of ready-made pasta in order to save weight. In addition, 74,145 tons of freight were flown out of Berlin, the majority of which consisted of products manufactured in the city that were labeled “Made in Blocked Berlin”. A total of 227,655 passengers were also carried.

USAFE statistics
total US share British share
Number of flights 277,569 189,963 87,606
Goods flown in (total) 2,109,666.8 t 1,618,029.9 t 491,636.9 t
of which food 486,890.9 t 268,816.3 t 218,074.5 t
of which coal 1,438,821.6 t 1,289,217.3 t 149,604.3 t
of which other goods 183,954.4 t 59,996.3 t 123,958.1 t
Goods flown out (total) 74,144.9 t 41,628.6 t 32,516.3 t
Passengers carried (total) 227,655 62,749 164.906
of that to Berlin 60,078 25,263 34,815
of which from Berlin 167,577 37,486 130.091
Figures for the period from June 26, 1948 to September 30, 1949.

For civilians, the Royal Air Force set up flights between Gatow and Lübeck-Blankensee and Wunstorf . A total of around 68,000 passengers were flown out from the end of June 1948 to the beginning of May 1949, who usually only had to pay a fee about the cost of a train ticket. Children flew for free.

The greater part of the freight tonnage was handled via Tempelhof, most of the flight movements during the airlift were registered at Gatow Airport.

The end of the airlift

Postage stamp from the Deutsche Bundespost Berlin (1959) on the tenth anniversary of the end of the Berlin blockade

In particular because of the negative effects on the economy of the Soviet occupation zone and East Berlin through the embargo of high-quality technology by the West ( counter-blockade ) and the discontinuation of trade with the Western zones and in view of the will demonstrated with the airlift, West Berlin before In order to preserve a Soviet annexation , the Soviet Union was finally compelled to lift the previous blockade. Shortly before midnight from May 11th to May 12th 1949 the western sectors were supplied with electricity again and at 0:01 am the total blockade of the land and water transport routes was lifted. With several renewed restrictions and corresponding protests by the western city commanders, by autumn 1949 the traffic routes were again as they had been granted by the Soviet side before the start of the blockade. The number of airlift flights was gradually reduced until stocks were reached for about two months. On September 30, 1949, the airlift was officially closed. On that day, the last raisin bomber landed at Tempelhof Airport with 10 tons of coal on board.


Plaque in Handjerystraße 2 in Berlin to commemorate a plane crash

In connection with the airlift, there were accidents partly in the air and partly on the ground, including fatal injuries. The information on this varies because some authors did not have access to the military documents of all participating nations. Several authors unanimously report 31 American deaths. At least for accidents involving the Douglas DC-4 (C-54 or R5D) aircraft, there are complete lists based on the individual serial numbers. A total of 15 crew members were killed in 10 accidents involving the USAF and the US Navy from August 13, 1948 to July 12, 1949.

In addition, at least 40 British and thirteen Germans (seven of them as passengers) were killed. There were a total of around 120 accidents on the US side alone and at least 101 deaths for all those involved. Tunner points out, however, that the number of accidents was less than 50% of what was to be expected for the same number of flight hours at the time with the US Air Force.


There were acts of sabotage at some bases. Some pilots were also obstructed over the Soviet occupation zone. B. by disruptive flight maneuvers of Soviet fighter planes, flak shelling in the border area of ​​the air corridors to intimidate or dazzle the pilots with flak headlights. American pilots reported 733 "incidents". This was the first time that Western Allied aircraft were confronted with Soviet MiG-15s .


Outside of Germany

The airlift not only consisted of the air corridors between West Germany and West Berlin, but the relief supplies had to be brought to Germany first. For the aircraft types of the time, the route was too far for a direct flight from the USA to Germany. Aircraft with American relief supplies had to stop over. In Greenland, the airports of Søndre Strømfjord (US Air Force Base "Bluie West Eight", today Kangerlussuaq) and Narsarsuaq (US Air Force Base "Bluie West One") performed these tasks.

Air traffic control

The Berlin Air Safety Control Center served as the district control center for the airspace over Berlin, which also had Soviet personnel due to the city's four-power status and the Soviet flight movements over the SBZ. For the US zone, the Air Traffic Control Center Frankfurt took over the air traffic control and for the British zone, the Air Traffic Control Center Bad Eilsen .


In Berlin, the airports Gatow (British sector), Tempelhof (US sector) and from the beginning of December 1948 also Tegel (French sector) were served. Initially, there were only unpaved grass runways in Gatow and Tempelhof; only in the course of the operation were runways created that were winter-proof and could cope with the stress caused by the numerous take-off and landing processes. In Tegel, on an area previously only used as a military training area, up to 19,000 predominantly German workers (including about half of them women) were on duty around the clock in the record time of 90 days and the most necessary buildings and facilities and the longest at 2,400 m at the time Europe's runway built. The most modern radar system of the time was set up in Tempelhof in order to be able to maintain dense flight operations at the airports serving the airlift even in unfavorable weather and at night. In addition, the British flying boats coming from Hamburg-Finkenwerder landed on the Havel and the Großer Wannsee.

West Germany

The CALTF building in Wiesbaden

The Americans took off mainly from their large bases in Wiesbaden ( Erbenheim airfield ) and the Rhein-Main Air Base at Frankfurt am Main Airport . The main transshipment point for the quantitatively most important cargo, coal , was the airfields in Faßberg , Wunstorf and (later included) Lübeck , Celle-Wietzenbruch and Schleswig-Land in the British zone . Some of the airfields were extensively expanded and connected to the railway .

The airlift was coordinated by the Combined Airlift Task Force based on Taunusstrasse in Wiesbaden.


The blockade of Berlin created a state of emergency not only in the enclosed city, but also elsewhere: prostitution flourished around the large air force bases such as Celle . In 1948/49, up to 2000 “light girls” satisfied the needs of some British and above all some American pilots, engineers and load masters who were well looked after by the German standard of living at the time. The military administration issued information brochures and posters warning against sexually transmitted diseases - "venereal diseases", or "VD" for short. This abbreviation has been reinterpreted as "Veronica, thank you". At least that is an explanation for the fact that the German prostitutes of that time were often called "Veronicas" by their customers.

Special promotions

"Candy bomber", "raisin bomber"

The name "candy bomber" goes back to the American pilot Gail Halvorsen , the sweets ( " candy " (German: "Candy, Candy")) as chocolate bars and chewing gum on homemade handkerchief parachutes tied and these before landing at Tempelhof for dropped waiting children. When Halvorsen's superiors found out about the drops through the Berlin press, the action soon spread widely and many of his colleagues followed him. Air Force Airmen and also civilian Americans collected candy and chewing gum to support Operation Little Vittles (small provisions). The Berliners affectionately called the supply planes “ raisin bombers ”. This is said to go back to the fact that a British pilot had flown a load of raisins to Berlin for the Christmas bakery in the run-up to Christmas in 1948.

Clarence & Clarissa

The US Air Force Base Neubiberg had as Football - mascot a (male) camel named Clarence. With his help, gifts for West Berlin children were collected in the US zone. Because of a broken leg, Clarence had to be exchanged for a camel that had been specially obtained from North Africa, although it was female and was actually called Clarissa. Clarissa was flown to West Berlin on October 21, 1948 with more than 3 tons of sweets under the name Clarence, which has become known. The children received their presents from the filled panniers.

Santa Claus action

The Western powers organized a series of special actions for Christmas 1948. So "Santa Claus" distributed gifts from the plane. There was also special Christmas dinner for Berlin children, to which the British had invited. "Operation Santa Claus" took place on December 20, 1948: gifts for 10,000 West Berlin children were flown in from the Faßberg base near Celle.

American way of life

The hearts of adult West Berliners were also courted and at the same time familiar things were brought back to the soldiers on missions abroad: the entertainer Bob Hope visited West Berlin at Christmas 1948 and gave three additional performances on the Tempelhof airport grounds, to which visitors from the Wiesbaden base also flown were. Also visiting the then in men than came Covergirl popular Eugenia Lincoln "Jinx" Falkenburg, Model , stage actress on Broadway , film actress and star of a radio and television first talk show . A troupe of dancers from Radio City “Rockettes” completed the show. The composer Irving Berlin wrote his own title Operation Vittles and performed it himself, for which GIs had rehearsed the refrain.

Easter parade

In the "Easter Parade" initiated by Tunner from April 15 to 16, 1949, the largest cargo volume of a day was achieved with 12,849 tons of cargo and 1,398 flights in 24 hours. In addition to food such as grain, dried milk , dried potatoes and flour, coal was flown in as fuel and for electricity production, gasoline , medicines and all other things needed in Berlin. Organizational experience from this limited campaign helped to further increase the freight volume in the coming months.

Aircraft and maintenance personnel of the Berlin Airlift

In the early days, the Americans used the twin-engine C-47 Skytrain ( called Dakota in the RAF ) or its civilian counterpart, the DC-3. With a maximum load of 3 tons, these machines turned out to be too inefficient, so they were quickly replaced by the larger four-engine C-54 Skymaster or its civilian version DC-4 , which could carry 9 tons of load and were also faster. A total of 380 such machines were used during the airlift (225 of them were used by the Americans), which made up the largest proportion of the machines used. Other American machines such as the C-97 Stratofreighter and the C-74 Globemaster , which with a payload of around 20 tons each was gigantic for the conditions at the time, were only used sporadically.

The fact that the Americans were largely restricted to one type of aircraft simplified and optimized their entire logistics. The aircraft had the same cruising speed and flight characteristics, which is why the aircraft distance could be further reduced and the frequency of take-offs and landings increased. Maintenance and spare parts procurement were easier and more efficient. The crews trained on one type could easily switch to other machines of the same type. The procedure for loading and unloading could be standardized and handled with greater routine.

The British, however, used a hodgepodge of aircraft types. Many aircraft were former bombers or the civil versions of English bombers. In the absence of its own aircraft, the Royal Air Force also chartered many aircraft from civil airlines. A special feature was the use of flying boats, which were used in particular for the transport of salt. These aircraft were designed for use at sea and therefore optimized for corrosion resistance. In the winter when there was ice on the waters, Halifax bombers took on the task of transporting salt.

With the exception of a short-term deployment of a Junkers Ju 52 through France, machines from German production were not used for propaganda and, in particular, logistical reasons.

On the other hand, at the instigation of Tunners and with the involvement of the former major general of the Air Force , Hans-Detlef Herhudt von Rohden , numerous German aircraft mechanics were hired, putting the existing fraternization and employment prohibition aside, who ultimately outnumbered the Americans.

Royal Air Force
Avro York transport aircraft
US Air Force Douglas C-54 Skymaster
Flying boat Short Sunderland of the Royal Air Force


Monuments / memorial sites / foundations

Airlift memorial at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, 2002
Airlift Memorial at Frankfurt Airport, 2008
Memorial stone at Lübeck Airport in memory of the flights of the Royal Australian Air Force, 2008
Ginkgo tree and plaque commemorating the victims of the Berlin Airlift who were buried in the Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg.

Since 1951, the reminiscent of Berlin Eduard Ludwig created Airlift Memorial at the place of the air bridge in front of the Tempelhof airport to the victims of the air bridge. Later, other identical monuments were erected at Frankfurt Airport and - in a somewhat smaller version - in the Wietzenbruch / Celle district near the Wietzenbruch air base / Immelmann barracks at the Celle airfield .

At the Faßberg Air Base , an airlift museum invites you to examine history. The Williamsville military settlement at Erding Air Base was named after one of the pilots who had died. On May 11, 2012, a new monument was inaugurated in front of the tower building of the former Gatow airfield , which complements the exhibition of a branch of the military history museum of the Bundeswehr housed on the airfield . It consists of a Royal Australian Air Force C-47 , which was used in the Berlin Airlift, and a memorial stone.

In 1959, Willy Brandt set up the non-profit foundation "Airlift Thanks". After his appeal for donations, around 1.6 million DM came together. Relatives of the victims of the Airlift could be financially supported from the interest of the foundation capital. Today the foundation supports projects and ideas that deal with the topic of “Airlift and Berlin Blockade”.

A plaque and a ginkgo tree commemorate the victims of the Berlin Airlift who were buried in the Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg.

Visit to Kennedy's 15th anniversary of the Airlift

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the beginning of the Airlift, shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall , a US President, John F. Kennedy , visited (West) Berlin for the first time . His famous anniversary speech on June 26, 1963 in front of the Schöneberg Town Hall, " I am a Berliner ", served to affirm the solidarity and support of the American people for the will of the population of (all) Berlin, which was demonstrated during the Airlift .

Festival of the Airlift

On May 12, 2019, on the 70th anniversary of the Airlift, the Airlift Festival was celebrated in the hangars and on the apron of Tempelhof Airport under the motto Celebrate and remember - a festival for the whole family . The 98-year-old American airlift pilot Gail Halvorsen was among the numerous contemporary witnesses .

See also


  • Corine Defrance , Bettina Greiner , Ulrich Pfeil (eds.): The Berlin Airlift. Cold War memorial site , Christoph Links Verlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86153-991-9 .
  • Heiner Wittrock: Wunstorf Air Base, Part 2 (1945–1998) , ed. from the city of Wunstorf.
  • Gerhard Keiderling: Raisin Bomber over Berlin . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-320-01959-7 .
  • Ulrich Kubisch u. a. for the German Museum of Technology: Airlift commission . Nicolai Verlag, 1998, ISBN 3-87584-692-3 .
  • John Provan : The History of Rhein-Main Air Base Kindle ebook, Halle 2011, ISBN 978-0-945794-13-4 .
  • John Provan: Big Lift. The Berlin Airlift June 26, 1948 - September 30, 1949. Edition Temmen, Bremen 1998, ISBN 3-86108-706-5 .
  • John Provan: The Berlin Airlift - Vol 1 The Men that made the airlift work. LZC, Halle 2011, ISBN 0-945794-16-9 , ibooks and Kindle ebook, history of the airlift, photos and tables.
  • John Provan: The Berlin Airlift - Vol 2 The Task Force Times newspaper. LZC, Halle 2011, ISBN 0-945794-17-7 . ibooks and Kindle ebook, scans of the issues of the American Airlift magazine.
  • John Provan: The Berlin Airlift - Vol 3 The Men that made the airlift work. LZC, Halle 2011, ISBN 0-945794-18-5 . ibooks and Kindle ebook, list of all US units and list of names of US military personnel.
  • Walter Lehweß-Litzmann : crash into life . Dingsda-Verlag, Querfurt 1994, ISBN 3-928498-34-7 .
  • Gail S. Halvorsen: Chewing Gum and Chocolate: The Memories of the Berlin Candy Bomber . edition Grüntal, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-938491-02-7 .
  • Klaus Scherff: Berlin Airlift . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-87943-417-4 .
  • Margot Theis-Raven, Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen: Mercedes and the chocolate pilot. A true story about the Berlin Airlift and sweets that fell from the sky . edition grüntal children's book, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-938491-03-5 .
  • Roger G. Miller: To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift 1948-1949 . (PDF; 9.8 MB) Air Force History and Museum Program, United States Government Printing Office, 1998, 1998-433-155 / 92107.


Web links

Commons : Berliner Luftbrücke  - Collection of images, videos and audio files



  1. The original statistics use "American tons" (short tons, sh. Tn.) As the unit of measurement for the freight information due to an agreement between the British and US parties . For both tables above, the original information has been converted into metric tons (t) (1 tn. Sh. = 0.90718474 t).
  2. The US share is made up of flights by the US Air Force and the US Navy .
  3. The British share is made up of flights by the Royal Air Force and civil British charter airlines.
  4. The statistics count the outward and return flights together as one flight. In total, there were more than 550,000 operational flights.
  5. For the months June – October 1948 and September 1949, no information is available from the American side on the amount of goods flown out.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c d e f g Roger Gene Miller: To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift 1948-1949 . (PDF; 9.8 MB; 135 S.) Air Force History and Museum Program, United States Government Printing Office, 1998, 1998-433-155 / 92107
  2. a b c d e f g h i j k Ann Tusa, John Tusa: The Berlin Blockade . Coronet Books, Coronet Ed., 1989, ISBN 0-340-50068-9 , 557 pp.
  3. Richard Reeves: Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of The Berlin Airlift, June 1948 - May 1949 . Simon and Schuster, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4391-9984-8 , 336 pp.
  4. ^ Food in occupied Germany in the English language Wikipedia
  5. a b Wolfgang Julien Huschke: The raisin bombers: the Berlin airlift 1948/49; their technical requirements and their successful implementation . 2nd Edition. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8305-1485-5 .
  6. ^ "Agreement concerning the creation of a system of air corridors to be used for flights in the respective Zones of occupation in Germany"
  7. ^ "Flight rules for aircraft flying in air corridors in Germany and the Berlin Control Zone"
  8. "full freedom of action, at any time of day and night, without prior notification, by aircraft of the nations governing Germany"
  9. ^ Avi Shlaim: The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949: A Study in Crisis Decision-making . In: International crisis behavior series , Vol. 2, University of California Press, 1983, 463 pp., ISBN 978-0-520-04385-5 .
  10. ^ Judith Michel: Willy Brandts America picture and policy 1933–1992 . In: Dittmar Dahlmann, Christian Hacke, Klaus Hildebrand, Christian Hillgruber , Joachim Scholtyseck (eds.): International Relations. Theory and History , Volume 6. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86234-126-9 , p. 91.
  11. ^ Helena P. Schrader: The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift . The History Press, UK, 2011, ISBN 978-0-7524-6803-7 .
  12. Quotation from Volker Koop in: Die Luftbrücke (ZDF History, June 24, 2008).
  13. ^ A b Combined Airlift Task Force (CALTF): A Report On The Airlift, Berlin Mission; the operational and internal aspects of the advance element . (PDF; 100 S.) Publication by the US Air Force based on a report by William H. Tunner, 1975
  14. Berlin airlift: a USAFE summary . (PDF; 214 S.) United States Air Forces in Europe, 1949
  15. ^ Accident report DC-4 / C-54G 45-514 , Aviation Safety Network (English), accessed on December 1, 2016.
  16. On the death of Jean Ganeval . In: Der Spiegel . No. 4 , 1981 ( online ).
  17. ^ Ernst Reuter's speech to the Reichstag on September 9, 1948. In: , accessed on December 13, 2013. On Reuters popularity, for example, Wehler: Politiker , p. 195 f. On Reuters' ability to exert pressure through public speeches, see Barclay: Look at this city , pp. 247 f.
  18. ^ Ernest Reuter | Sep 18, 1950. In: Time , September 18, 1950, accessed November 4, 2009.
  19. Germany: Last Call for Europe. In: Time , September 18, 1950, accessed November 4, 2009.
  20. The information in official and military sources also differs from one another in some cases
  21. ^ Berlin blockade and airlift - chronology . Edited with permission from John Provan . by the Luftbrückendank Foundation, (PDF; 75 kB; 10 pages)
  22. a b Clément Honsberger: Logistic aspects of the Berlin Airlift 1948/49 . ( Memento from October 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 5 MB) Matura thesis, 55 p., 2013
  23. ^ Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe: Berlin Airlift, a USAFE Summary ........ 26 June 1948, 30 September 1949 . USAFE Reproduction Center, 1949, OCLC 15469731 , p. 12 (American English, [accessed October 26, 2016]).
  24. ^ Arne Hoffrichter: Passenger transport with the Berlin Airlift. In: Federal Center for Political Education . February 14, 2013, accessed April 24, 2015 .
  25. Isabel Fannrich-Lautenschläger: The sweet picture of the raisin bombers In: Deutschlandfunk , March 16, 2017.
  26. Tagesschau from September 30, 1989 (from min. 12:58)
  27. ^ A b Henry Ashby Turner : The Two Germanies Since 1945: East and West , Yale University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-300-03865-8 .
  28. ^ A b John Provan : Berlin blockade and airlift - a temporal outline. In: Stiftung Luftbrückendank ( PDF , 75 kB).
  29. This does not include, for example, the (usually at least three) crew of the C-54 , which - according to information not otherwise confirmed - is said to have been rammed by a Soviet fighter plane on October 13, 1948.
  30. ^ Accident list: Douglas DC-4. In: Aviation Safety Network , accessed December 21, 2016.
  31. John and Maureen Woods: The Douglas DC-4 , Production List. Airline Publication & Sales, Hounslow 1980, ISBN 0-905117-71-9 (English).
  32. ^ Tony Eastwood, John Roach: Piston Engine Airliner Production List . The Aviation Hobby Shop, West Drayton 1996, pp. 257-321, ISBN 0-907178-61-8 (English).
  33. Peter Berry, Tom Dunstall, Michael Ford, John A. Whittle: The Douglas DC-4, including Canadair 4 and Douglas DC-5. In: Air-Britain (Historians) , Hutton, Brentwood, 1967 (English).
  34. Bo-Göran Lundkvist: Douglas DC-4, Detailed Production List. In: Lundkvist Aviation Research , Sunrise, Florida 33313, June 1981 (English).
  35. ↑ Raisin Bomber Crashes. In: , accessed on December 21, 2016.
  36. ASN Aviation Safety WikiBase. In: Aviation Safety Network , accessed December 21, 2016.
  37. ^ William Henry Tunner : Over the Hump. In: Duell, Sloan and Pearce , New York, 1964, reprinted in 1998 by Office of USAF History and Museums Program.
  38. ^ John Provan : The Berlin Airlift. Volume 1. The First Battle of the Cold War, Chapter III.U (English).
  39. ^ Berlin airlift in Greenland: Berlin history with arctic stories. In: , March 12, 2009.
  40. Museum Narsarsuaq and Jørgen Vaengtoft, Museum Kangerlussuaq.
  41. Berlin Airlift | "Operation Vittles". Retrieved May 19, 2019 .
  42. Sven Felix Kellerhoff : How the airlift made prostitution flourish. In: Die Welt , June 24, 2008.
  43. ^ Sven Felix Kellerhoff : How Stalin got nightmares at Christmas. In: Die Welt , December 24, 2013.
  44. ^ Wolfgang Julien Huschke: The Candy Bombers: The Berlin Airlift, 1948/49: the Technical Conditions and Their Successful Transformation . 2nd Edition. Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-8305-1484-8 .
  45. Renita Menyhert: Operation Vittles: Stories from the Berlin Airlift . Xlibris Corporation, 2012, ISBN 978-1-4691-4392-7 .
  46. ^ Philip L. Green: Much Alive at Ninety-Five . iUniverse, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4759-9622-7 .
  47. Berthold Seewald: This secret company broke the will of the Soviets. In: Die Welt , April 17, 2019.
  48. ^ "We had more German mechanics than American!"; Tunner, Over the hump , The Berlin Airlift, pp. 181 ff .; P. 183.
  49. ^ Faßberg Air Base and Faßberg – Berlin Airlift.
  50. Foundation Airlift Thanks (PDF; 2.7 MB)
  51. The Airlift. In: .