Residents of Berlin, which survived the 1948-49 Soviet blockade thanks to a U.S.-led airlift, are scrambling to send aid packages to New Orleans after seeing harrowing images of flood victims. Many Berliners are calling the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation to ask how they can send food- and clothing-filled boxes, like the CARE packages the city once received from Americans during the Cold War, to ordinary people suffering in New Orleans. (...)
"We're making space here for people to bring in their CARE packages for New Orleans," Andrea Mehrlaender [Executive Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation] told Reuters. "A lot of Berliners have friends or family over there and on top of that we want to try to set up long-term person-to-person contacts." (...)
"Many people in Berlin are alive because of the airlift," says Irmgard Helmig, a 72-year-old pensioner. "But I think the whole of Germany is showing solidarity with the Americans." "The suffering of the population in New Orleans reminds me of the situation here after the war," said Werner Doerflinger, president of the German-American Society.
Younger generations of Berliners are very much aware of the airlift and CARE packages as well due to the emotional stories told to them by their parents and grandparents.
In a private initiative members of the German Embassy, together with the German School Washington Community, the Goethe Institut and the German Historical Institute call for donations to help "the particularly impoverished areas of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama that have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina." For more information, click on the image.
US Ambassador to Germany, William Timken, issued a "wish list" of technical assistance, according to a Deutsche Welle report (in English) on September 6:
It includes items such as generators, emergency shelters, pumps, water purification systems, blankets, medicine, search and rescue teams, logistical experts and vaccination teams. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, head of the Chancellor's Office, said this corresponded with items that Germany had offered.
The US and German governments are coordinating US needs and German aid offers. German government press secretary Bela Anda said yesterday that the following aid has already been provided or is on its way: Food aid, 93 THW relief specialists with 15 high speed pumps, and forensic experts to identify bodies.
He expects a quick response from the relevant US agencies regarding the offer to send water purification systems and emergency shelters. (His full statement in German) Chancellor Schroeder supported the US request to release oil reserves on September 2.
President Bush thanked Chancellor Schroeder for his condolences and the German help:
The generosity with which the German People and their Government have responded to the catastrophe is a testament to the human spirit as well as the bonds of our nations.