13 February 2008

Operation Vittles and the (maybe) passing of Templehof

I noticed in the Wall Street Journal this morning that there is some controversy brewing about the proposed closing of the Templehof airport in Berlin. While I can't speak for the modern commercial aspects of the airport, I can address the historical significance.

US Army Center of Military History: Operation Vittles

For it was this airport, along with others, that became the focal point of the Berlin Airlift.


Divided up into two parts after the war and controlled by both the Allies and the Soviets, Germany became the new lead point for the newly emerging Cold War. Nowhere could be seen better than in Berlin, which itself was divided into opposing Soviet and Allied zones. The sticky point with Berlin however, is that the city was located in the Soviet held part of Germany.

By the late forties, the rush to rebuild Germany was already in place by the Allies. The Soviets, however, had a different point of view. Beginning in 1948 a series of events drew both factions to a boiling point. These included airplane collisi0ns, train track outages and blockages and a host of diplomatic maneuvering on both sides of the table.

In June of 1948, the Soviets cast their die and cut off access to Berlin via land routes . Responding immediately, the Allies began resupply of Berlin by air routes. Involving staggering amounts of foodstuffs and coal as well as air support with all types of aircraft in the Allied inventory, the effort was massive.

As an example:

"...By the end of the operation, American and British pilots had flown 92 million miles on 277,000 flights from four primary airfields in the western sectors of Germany into Berlin to deliver nearly 2.3 million tons of supplies to three airfields conducting round-the-clock operations within 10 miles of each other...."

Included in this event was the operation within an operation, that is Operation Little Vittles, but I'll probably save that for later.

Don't forget to hit the links below for more information in depth and have a great day!

See you tomorrow!


NY Times PermaLink on Berlin Airlift

NPR Story on Berlin Airlift

Wikipedia: Berlin Airlift

National Museum of the USAF

Wikipedia: Templehof

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