Berlin Airlift Exhibit to Honor 75th Anniversary

Post-World War II Germany was a divided and occupied country. Divided as the Allies (United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union) had each claimed distinct territories which were initially administered through the Allied Control Council.

On June 24, 1948, Soviet troops blockaded rail, road, and water access to Allied-controlled areas of Berlin. The US and the UK responded by airlifting food and fuel to Berlin from air bases in western Germany. The Truman administration considered these flights a humanitarian mission. The United States launched “Operation Vittles” on June 26, with the United Kingdom following suit two days later with “Operation Plainfare.” Despite the desire for a peaceful resolution to the standoff, the United States also sent B-29 bombers to the UK, which were capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The beginning of the airlift proved difficult, and Western diplomats asked the Soviets to seek a diplomatic solution to the impasse. 

In time, the airlift became ever more efficient, and the number of planes increased. At the height of the campaign, a plane landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport. By spring 1949, the Berlin Airlift had proved successful, and the Western Allies had demonstrated that they could sustain the operation indefinitely. On May 12, 1949, Moscow lifted the blockade of West Berlin. The Berlin Crisis of 1948–1949 solidified the East-West division of Europe. Read more here

Join at the German-American Heritage Museum to celebrate this humanitarian effort by the American and British governments to save the people of Berlin, and to remember the victims of Operation Vittles and Operation Plainfare.

Listen to presentations by:

  • Francis Gary Powers, Jr., Author & Historian
  • Dr. Andrew Wackerfuss, United States Air Force

“I am ready to try an airlift. I can’t guarantee it will work. I am sure that even at its best, people are going to be cold and people are going to be hungry. And if the people of Berlin won’t stand that, it will fail. And I don’t want to go into this unless I have your assurance that the people will be heavily in approval.”

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