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Berlin Airlift Remembered

When the Soviet Union cut off all land links into West Berlin in 1948, the United States, Britain and France launched the biggest airlift in history to keep 2.25 million residents from starving. 11 months later Stalin gave up. Last week Berliners celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the Berlin blockade.

According to the BBC:

Thousands of people, including dozens of American, British and French veterans, attended ceremonies at Berlin's recently closed Tempelhof Airport on Tuesday to pay tributes to those involved in the unprecedented effort. (...) Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said. "We will never forget the victims who fell for the freedom of our city," he added. "You laid the cornerstone for today's trans-Atlantic relationship. It was a logistic, humanitarian masterpiece that is... burned in the memory of the city."

Related article on Atlantic Review: Famous Berlin Airlift base Rhein-Main is closed

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David on :

In 1948 we were able to bring food and supplies with the most meager amount of resources to a distant city on the other side of the world. Nearly 60 years later our incompetent government was incapable of rescuing a major city on our own shores. Leadership - or rather lack of leadership - made all the difference.

Zyme on :

So Pat is right and you compared Berlin to New Orleans? I mean seriously, why do you constantly engage yourself in party-struggles? This happened years ago, and usually responsible politicians are from the same lot, regardless of their party. Just look at Britain. I couldn't think of a reason for complaining about past mistakes of parties I don't like here, because it would be very tiresome wasting one's time with these fools..

David on :

Yes, I am making the comparison. Two cities in peril, two very different responses at different points in our history.

SC on :

Zyme, Yes, this comparison is rather silly: Apples and oranges. But worse than that are the continuing myths. If you or anyone else is interested in the rather fair accounting of the Katrina disaster and some of the things that have been learned take a look at this link to an article that appeared in 2006: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=1 As one small example taken from the article: ------------------------------------------------- GOVERNMENT RESPONDED RAPIDLY MYTH: "The aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."--Aaron Broussard, president, Jefferson Parish, La., Meet the Press, NBC, Sept. 4, 2005 REALITY: Bumbling by top disaster-management officials fueled a perception of general inaction, one that was compounded by impassioned news anchors. In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall. ------------------------------------------------ Incidentally, my wife works on occasion with emergency and disaster relief officials. they would largely back the observations of this article. They would also tell you that it is well understood - or should be - that as a matter of policy local and state officials are responsible for initial response for the first 72 hours. This was the policy then and remains the policy today no matter anyone may think regarding the merits of a particular administration.

Don S on :

I read the entire piece, SC. Seems like good sense. Thank you. Like anything, the response to Katrina had it'; good points and it's bad ones. The response does seem to have been swifter and more effective than the one to Hurricane Andrew. Andrew hit a more prosperous area than Katrina did, and local response may have been somewhat more effective there than with Katrina. But the Feds were slower to the scene at Andrew, so it balanced out. One sector's respone was almost a complete disaster, however. The news media, particular national and international news organisations. They consistently mis-reported what was going on, and many of the mistakes made by relief forces and local police were due to bad information. Some of the local cops stopped refugees from leaving New Orleans, for a time at least. Might have been racism, but more likely it was the reports of looting mobs in New Orleans - the cops may have thought the mob was coming over the bridge to loot their community. A reasonable assumption given what the networks were reporting. Even so they did not reacti violently. They just set up roadblocks and prevented free movement of refugees until it was clear that that is what they were; unarmed refugees, not armed looters. One might think that the major news organisations would create their own plan to improve performance after the Katrina debacle; think again. Hell will freeze over before.

Joe Noory on :

You desire to impose your personal, domestic political compulsions on the rest of the world is stunningly arrogant and ignorant. I also wonder just who it is that you mean by "we"? Were you an airman? The "we" that conducted the airlift was not part of the present day worldview that places every form of complex, attention-seeking millstone around the neck of any application of the use of the military. Were "not in my name" around in '48/'49, they would have christened the Luftbrücke as an imperialist act, or fixated on it being done incompenetly, just as with Katrina. They would have tortured all logic necessary to alter the percieved role of the Soviets in the same way that Louisiana's State government and NO officials were left out of the harangues. Those harangues, that orgy of political exploitation, by the way, fed no-one, but made every attempt to cast the detatched complainers as some sort of saviour.

Kevin Sampson on :

(Comment removed)

Pat Patterson on :

Fake!

John in Michigan, USA on :

You know, at first when he faked our names, he would leave little typos in the names so that he could say (technically) that he was using a similar name, not the exact same name. But he has stopped doing that and now litterally steals our identity. Whoever 'he' is...(I think we know...infamous Merkel-X). How long has he been with us? At least as long as I have been posting here (1+ year). It is sad, because he is taking unfair advantage of a nice, simple comment system that Joerg has chosen in part because it requires no registration and therefore new readers are more likely to leave a comment. But 'he' is ruining all the fun...way to go, loser.

Pat Patterson on :

Faux!

Pat Patterson on :

Joerg-I'm pretty sure that this is also a bogus post simply placed there to imply that you are deleting John in Michigan's comments. The intent is confusion!

nanne on :

Pat, thanks - we are deleting the imposter/troll comments as fast as we can, we have no problem identifying them.

Don S on :

The comments sound like our old troll friend pen name, and are no problem to ID - as you say. I think he's he/she can't dominate the discussion and may everyone say things which pleases him - so he's decided to destroy the board. Behavior somewhere between 13 and 15, I think. Too young to realize the emptiness of such tactics.

Pat Patterson on :

I believe pen name was Iranian and did have some training in engineering or some kind of physical sciencen but was no where near as entertaining as the Chinese fire drill currently on view.

John in Michigan, USA on :

I can't help thinking that if David had been commenting back in 1948, before it was clear that the airlift would be a success, he would have complained that the airlift was provocative and risked war with the Soviet Union. Joe Noory already commented on this, but I wanted to add some local color. It doesn't take David long to bring up Katrina. It is quite telling what David's kindred spirit, anti-war nutter Cindy Sheehan, said after the Bush administration finally sent troops to relieve New Orleans: "But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests." "George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power." [url=http://www.michaelmoore.com/mustread/index.php?id=503]These are direct quotes from Sheehan posted on Michael Moore's Web site[/url]. I have relatives in New Orleans. Talk of "occupation" is sometimes a code phrase used by the "[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cause]lost cause[/url]" movement: The south never truly lost the US Civil War, rather, it was betrayed; slavery did more good than harm, etc. This movement, in part, inspired the Jim Crow system that terrorized the entire South for generations. Note Sheehan's victim fantasy of being shot by a (Yankee?) soldier. You can't make this stuff up. Note Sheehan's defense of private property, a concept not usually very popular with her fellow-travelers. It is a bit of a stretch, but I guarantee you there are some who will read into this a coded nostalgia for slavery (property) and the antebellum understanding of states rights. The victim mentality on the US far-left is so powerful, it doesn't surprise me to see them attracted to some of the same feelings, themes, and ideas as those on the far-right. --- Until quite recently, Germany was also a nation divided. It would be interesting to hear some local color from Germans, or German scholars, about the cultural tensions that exist, if it isn't too soon to talk about it. It is only human nature for there to be a certain amount of resentment in the East for being "liberated" by the West. Are there "code phrases" that people use to talk about these past divisions or feelings, instead of talking about them openly?

Don S on :

I don't usually comment about David because I find him completely on message, all the time. That is, what David thinks about any given issue is utterly predictable. If an angle exists where he can priase Obama to the skies or trash Bush, he'll comment. Otherwise silence.

Pat Patterson on :

I had read Mrs Sheehan's post some time ago and wondered how she had missed the bulldozed tank traps, the sniper teams on the hotel roof tops and of course the barbed wire relocation centers. But I suspect that she spent most of her visit in Laura's Candies or walking around Bourbon St. looking for Big Daddy's.

Pat Patterson on :

First question must be on what runway was this aid supposed to land on and from what nearby runways were the supplies supposed to be collected and then airlifted to NO? Even NO's port was not functioning. But the second question should be how many people starved in New Orleans vs Berlin? Any aid that got to the city had to be hauled via truck for some 500 miles. Unlike Germany which had one major airport and an emergency strip and at least a dozen strips in the Allied Zone. David is still beating the drum on blaming Bush for something that local officials traditionally as part of a federal system were responsible for handling. But last year CBS also did a video on Gail Halvoreson and the other Candy Bombers. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4425320n

David on :

I would say that "Heckuva job, Brownie" was the beginning of the end for Bush and his party. Bush's poll numbers never recovered after Katrina, and the Republicans lost two national elections. Or where do you see the collapse of support beginning?

Joe Noory on :

Funny haow you'll only get out the "that was a great thing to do" that was socially difficult is a) it succeeded; and 2) if it happened half a century ago. If you were young and virile the question would be: "where's your nutsack, trooper?"

SC on :

To the editors: A nice post. But, while I've been particularly busy of late and may have missed it in my little corner of the States, I didn't note anything said or written about the anniversary. Pity really. Not only a nice story, but given the tensions of the time, a remarkable response to Stalin's provocations: Perhaps, a lesson to be learned there.

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