The Cold War began shortly after World War II and we recall something that happened on this day in 1949, the day the USSR lifted the blockade against West Berlin.
For over a year, the USSR tried to strangle West Berlin by closing all entrances to that city. The US and UK broke the blockade with a massive airlift of supplies to keep the citizens fed and warm over the winter. The numbers were impressive:
Over the course of the airlift, 2.34 million tons of food, coal, fuel and other vital supplies were delivered to Berlin’s 2.2 million inhabitants.
More than 277,000 flights involving 300 aircraft took part in the operation, the biggest of its kind. At the height of the airlift planes were taking off and landing at 90-second intervals.
The Soviets ended their blockade on May 12, but the Allies continued the airlift until August 27 in order to build up a sufficient supply of goods.
Some 78 people lost their lives during the airlift — 31 Americans, 39 Britons and eight Germans.
The Berlin airlift was one of President Truman’s finest moments. He stood up to the USSR and the good guys won. Of course, we also remember the story of the “candy bombers,” the pilots who dropped candy to children on the ground.