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Aircraft were available, and the British started adding their larger Handley Page Hastings in November, but maintaining the fleet proved to be a serious problem.

Tunner looked to the Germans once again, hiring plentiful ex- Luftwaffe ground crews. Another problem was the lack of runways in Berlin to land on: All of the existing runways required hundreds of labourers, who ran onto them between landings and dumped sand into the runway's Marston Mat pierced steel planking to soften the surface and help the planking survive.

Far from ideal, with the approach being over Berlin's apartment blocks, the runway nevertheless was a major upgrade to the airport's capabilities.

With it in place, the auxiliary runway was upgraded from Marston Matting to asphalt between September and October A similar upgrade program was carried out by the British at Gatow during the same period, also adding a second runway, using concrete.

The French Air Force , meanwhile, had become involved in the First Indochina War , so it could only bring up some old Junkers Ju 52s to support its own troops and they were too small and slow to be of much help.

However, France agreed to build a complete, new and larger airport in its sector on the shores of Lake Tegel. French military engineers, managing German construction crews, were able to complete the construction in under 90 days.

The airport was mostly built by hand, by thousands of mostly female labourers who worked day and night.

Heavy equipment was needed to level the ground, equipment that was too large and heavy to fly in on any existing cargo aircraft. The solution was to dismantle large machines and then re-assemble them.

Using the five largest American C Packet transports, it was possible to fly the machinery into West Berlin. This not only helped to build the airfield, but also demonstrated that the Soviet blockade could not keep anything out of Berlin.

The Tegel airfield was subsequently developed into Berlin-Tegel Airport. To improve air traffic control, which would be critical as the number of flights grew, the newly developed Ground Controlled Approach radar system GCA was flown to Europe for installation at Tempelhof, with a second set installed at Fassberg in the British Zone in West Germany.

With the installation of GCA, all-weather airlift operations were assured. None of these efforts could fix the weather, which became the biggest problem.

November and December proved to be the worst months of the airlift operation. One of the longest-lasting fogs ever experienced in Berlin blanketed the entire European continent for weeks.

All too often, aircraft would make the entire flight and then be unable to land in Berlin. On 20 November , 42 aircraft departed for Berlin, but only one landed there.

At one point, the city had only a week's supply of coal left. However, the weather eventually improved, and more than , tons were delivered in January , , tons in February, and , tons in March.

By April , airlift operations were running smoothly and Tunner wanted to shake up his command to discourage complacency. He believed in the spirit of competition between units and, coupled with the idea of a big event, felt that this would encourage them to greater efforts.

He decided that, on Easter Sunday, the airlift would break all records. To do this, maximum efficiency was needed and so, to simplify cargo-handling, only coal would be airlifted.

Coal stockpiles were built up for the effort and maintenance schedules were altered so that the maximum number of aircraft were available.

From noon on 15 April to noon on 16 April , crews worked around the clock. When it was over, 12, tons of coal had been delivered in 1, flights, without a single accident.

In total, the airlift delivered , tons in April. On 21 April, the tonnage of supplies flown into the city exceeded that previously brought by rail.

The next day, the US State Department stated that the "way appears clear" for the blockade to end. Soon afterwards, the four powers began serious negotiations, and a settlement was reached on Western terms.

On 4 May , the Allies announced an agreement to end the blockade in eight days. The Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted at one minute after midnight on 12 May Later that day, an enormous crowd celebrated the end of the blockade.

Nevertheless, supply flights to Berlin continued for some time to build up a comfortable surplus, though night flying and then weekend flights could be eliminated once the surplus was large enough.

By 24 July , three months' worth of supplies had been amassed, ensuring that there was ample time to restart the Airlift if needed.

The Berlin Airlift officially ended on 30 September , after fifteen months. In total, the USAF delivered 1,, tons and the RAF , tons, [nb 6] totalling 2,, tons, nearly two-thirds of which was coal, on , flights to Berlin.

The Cs and Cs together flew over 92 million miles in the process, almost the distance from Earth to the Sun. A total of fatalities were recorded as a result of the operation, including 40 Britons and 31 Americans, [87] mostly due to non-flying accidents.

Diplomatic approval was granted by a four-power organisation called the Berlin Air Safety Center , also located in the American sector.

Tegel was developed into West Berlin's principal airport. As a result of the development of these two airports, Tempelhof was closed in October , [97] while Gatow is now home of the Museum of the German Luftwaffe and a housing development.

During the s and s Schönefeld had its own crossing points through the Berlin Wall and communist fortifications for western citizens.

The US, British and French authorities also agreed to replace their military administrations in their occupation zones with High Commissioners operating within the terms of a three-power occupation statute.

Animosities between Germans and the Western Allies—Britain, France, and the United States—were greatly reduced by the airlift, with the former enemies recognizing common interests, namely freedom and capitalism, shared values and mutual respect.

It is owned and operated by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation. These machines could carry a payload of up to 3. These made up a total of aircraft, which made them the most used types.

Other American aircraft such as the five C Packets , and the one YCA Stratofreighter , with a payload of 20 tons—a gigantic load for that time—were only sparsely used.

The British used a considerable variety of aircraft types. Many aircraft were either former bombers or civil versions of bombers.

In the absence of enough transports, the British chartered many civilian aircraft. These included civilian aircraft operated by Aquila Airways.

In winter, when ice covered the Berlin rivers and made the use of flying boats difficult, the British used other aircraft in their place. Altogether, a total of aircraft were engaged in the Berlin Airlift, more than of which belonged to civilian operators.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on the. Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to People's Socialist Republic of Albania to Somali Democratic Republic to People's Republic of China to Forest Brothers in Lithuania in Latvia in Estonia.

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In all, about 90 conventionally-armed Bs were assigned. Call it Operation Vittles! At the time a codename was needed to coordinate activities.

Large suggested "Vittles" because of its probable unfamiliarity to the Soviets. Another 75 were always in the maintenance pipeline raised in April to , and 19 more were assigned to the airlift replacement training unit at Great Falls AFB , Montana.

Retrieved 22 February Retrieved 11 June Federal Research Division , Library of Congress. Archived from the original pdf on 4 September Creating a Nation and a Society.

Chanak , Burma —47, Berlin Spellmount Publishers Ltd, The New York Times. Retrieved 27 October Retrieved 12 August Breaking the Soviet Blockade".

Journal of Contemporary History. Retrieved 14 February Growing Up Allied pp. The World That Came in from the Cold.

Royal Institute of International Affairs. Retrieved 29 July Landeszentrale für politische Bildungsarbeit Berlin, , pp.

To Save a City: The Berlin Airlift, — Retrieved 6 January Retrieved 5 Jan Retrieved 24 June Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Retrieved January 2, Retrieved 31 October Berlin on the Brink: West Berlin's border was identical to the municipal boundary of Berlin as defined in the Greater Berlin Act of and amended in , and the border between the Soviet sector and the French, British, and American sectors respectively, which followed the boundaries of Berlin administrative boroughs as defined in the same years.

Another amendment was added in at the border between the British sector of Berlin ceding West-Staaken and the Soviet zone ceding the Seeburg Salient so that the Wehrmacht airfield at Berlin-Gatow became part of the British sector and the airfield at Berlin-Staaken became part of the Soviet sector.

The resulting borderline was further complicated with a lot of geographical oddities, including a number of exclaves and enclaves that Greater Berlin had inside some neighbouring municipalities since , all of which happened to become part of the British or American sectors after , so that parts of West Berlin came to be surrounded by East Germany.

However, the de facto administration remained with the Borough of Spandau in the British sector. Therefore, all inhabitants of Staaken could vote in West Berlin's city state elections in and On 1 February , East German Volkspolizei surprised the people of western Staaken by occupying the area and ended its administration by the Spandau Borough; instead, western Staaken became an exclave of the Soviet occupied borough Berlin-Mitte in the city centre.

However, on 1 June , western Staaken's de facto administration was placed with neighbouring East German Falkensee in the East German district Nauen.

This situation was undone on 3 October , the day of German unification, when western Staaken was reincorporated into united Berlin. West Berlin had its own postal administration first called Deutsche Post Berlin — and then Deutsche Bundespost Berlin , separate from West Germany's Deutsche Bundespost , and issuing its own postage stamps until However, the separation was merely symbolic; in reality West Berlin's postal service was completely integrated with West Germany's, using the same postal code system.

In order to reduce eastern tapping of telecommunications between West Berlin and West Germany, microwave radio relay connections were built, which transmitted telephone calls between antenna towers in West Germany and West Berlin by radio.

West Berliners could travel to West Germany and all Western and non-aligned states at all times, except during the Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union 24 June to 12 May when there were restrictions on passenger flight capacity imposed by the airlift.

Travelling to and from West Berlin by road or train always required passing through East German border checks, since West Berlin was an enclave surrounded by East Germany and East Berlin.

On 2 October , six years after the Wall was constructed, tram tracks in West Berlin were lifted because the authorities wanted to promote car usage, meaning that the tram system remaining today runs almost entirely within the former East Berlin.

For travel from West Berlin through East Germany by car or rail a valid passport was required for citizens of West Germany and other western nationals to be produced at East German border checks; West Berliners could get admission only through their identity cards see above.

Transitstrecke , East German border guards issued a transit visa for a fee of 5 Western Deutsche Mark. For journeys between West Berlin and Poland or Czechoslovakia through East Germany, each traveller was also required to present a valid visa for the destination country.

The transit routes for road travel connecting West Berlin to other destinations usually consisted of autobahns and other highways, marked by Transit signs.

Transitreisende were prohibited to leave the transit routes , and occasional traffic checkpoints would check for violators. The latter three routes used autobahns built during the Nazi era.

The transit routes were also used for East German domestic traffic. This meant that transit passengers could potentially meet with East Germans and East Berliners at restaurants at motorway rest stops.

Since such meetings were deemed illegal by the East German government, border guards would calculate the travel duration from the time of entry and exit of the transit route.

Excessive time spent for transit travel could arouse their suspicion and prompt questioning or additional checking by the border guards. Western coaches could stop only at dedicated service areas, since the East German government was concerned that East Germans might potentially use coaches to escape into the West.

On 1 September East Germany, because of a shortage in foreign currencies , started to levy road tolls on cars using the transit routes.

At first the toll amounted to Eastern Deutsche Mark 10 per passenger car and 10 to 50 for trucks, depending on size.

On 30 March , East Germany raised the toll for passenger cars to 30 Deutsche Marks, but after West German protests, in June of the same year it changed it back to the previous rate.

Transitpauschale of 50 million Western Deutsche Marks to the Eastern government, so that transit passengers no longer had to pay tolls individually.

Four transit train connections—earlier also called interzonal train German: These transit trains did not service domestic passengers of East Germany and made stops in East Germany almost exclusively for East German border guards upon entering and leaving the country.

Until the construction of the Berlin Wall, interzonal trains would also stop once on their way within East Germany for travellers having a visa for entering or leaving East Germany.

Train travel from West Berlin to Czechoslovakia, Denmark by ferry , Poland and Sweden by ferry required a visa to enter East Berlin or East Germany to allow transfer to an international train—which also carried domestic passengers—bound for an international destination.

In July and August , the three Western Allies and the Soviet Union decided that the railways, previously serviced by the Deutsche Reichsbahn German Reich Railways , should continue to be operated by one railway administration to service all four sectors.

So West Berlin had — with the exception of a few small private railway lines — no separate railway administration. Furthermore, the operation of the Reichsbahn's Berlin S-Bahn electric metropolitan transport network, consisting of commuter trains, was also maintained.

After the founding of East Germany on 7 October it gained responsibility for the Reichsbahn in its territory.

East Germany continued to run its railways under the official name Deutsche Reichsbahn , which thus maintained responsibility for almost all railway transport in all four sectors of Berlin.

After the Berlin Blockade transit trains German: All transit trains would start or end in East Berlin, passing through West Berlin with only one stop in the Western Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station , which became West Berlin's main railway station.

Until , the Reichsbahn also permitted stops at other stations on the way through the Western sectors. After easing of tensions between East and West Germany, starting on 30 May transit trains going westwards, southwestwards, or southwards stopped once again at Wannsee.

For transit trains going northwestwards, a shorter line was reopened on 26 September with an additional stop at the then Berlin-Spandau railway station , entering East Germany at Staaken.

Their East German employer, whose proceeds from ticket sales for Western Deutsche Marks contributed to East Germany's foreign revenues, tried to hold down wage social security contributions in Western Deutsche Mark.

They could spend this money in East Germany and take their purchases to West Berlin, which other Westerners could not do to the same extent. The Reichsbahn ran its own hospital for them in West Berlin, the building of which is now used as the headquarters of Bombardier Transportation.

For certain patients, the Reichsbahn would facilitate treatment in a hospital in East Berlin. In medical emergencies, the employees could use West Berlin doctors and hospitals, which would then be paid for by the Reichsbahn.

Two waterways via the rivers and canals Havel and Mittellandkanal were open for inland navigation , but only freight vessels were allowed to cross from West Berlin into East German waters.

Western freight vessels could stop only at dedicated service areas, because the East German government wanted to prevent any East Germans from boarding them.

Through these waterways, West Berlin was linked to the western European inland navigation network, connecting to seaports like Hamburg and Rotterdam , as well as to industrial areas such as the Ruhr Area , Mannheim , Basel , Belgium, and eastern France.

In July and August , the Western Allies and the Soviet Union decided that the operation and maintenance of the waterways and locks, which were previously run by the national German directorate for inland navigation German: Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Berlin , should be continued and reconstructed in all four sectors.

Westhafen Canal and locks, West Berlin had no separate inland navigation authority, but the East Berlin-based authority operated most waterways and locks, their lockmasters were employed by the East.

The western entrance to the Teltowkanal , connecting several industrial areas of West Berlin for heavy freight transport, was blocked by East Germany in Potsdam- Klein Glienicke.

Therefore, vessels going to the Teltowkanal had to take a detour via the river Spree through West and East Berlin's city centre to enter the canal from the East.

On 20 November , East Germany reopened the western entrance, which required two more vessel border checkpoints — Dreilinden and Kleinmachnow — because the waterway crossed the border between East Germany and West Berlin four times.

Air traffic was the only connection between West Berlin and the Western world that was not directly under East German control.

Tickets were originally sold for pounds sterling only. According to permanent agreements, three air corridors to West Germany were provided, which were open only for British, French, or U.

The airspace controlled by the Berlin Air Safety Center comprised a radius of 20 miles The West German airline Lufthansa and most other international airlines were not permitted to fly to West Berlin.

From then on West Berliners required a permit to enter East Germany. East German border checkpoints were established in East German suburbs of West Berlin, and most streets were gradually closed for interzonal travel into East Germany.

The last checkpoint to remain open was located at the Glienicker Brücke near Potsdam, until it was also closed by East Germany on 3 July This caused hardship for many West Berlin residents, especially those who had friends and family in East Germany.

However, East Germans could still enter West Berlin. A number of cemeteries located in East Germany were also affected by the closure.

Many church congregations in Berlin owned cemeteries outside the city, so many West Berlin congregations had cemeteries that were located in East Germany.

So many West Berliners wishing to visit the grave of a relative or friend on cemeteries located in East Germany were now unable to do so. Train routes servicing these suburbs formerly went through West Berlin stations, but ceased to make stops in the western stations or terminated service before entering West Berlin.

Tramways and bus routes that connected West Berlin with its East German suburbs and were operated by West Berlin's public transport operator Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe Gesellschaft BVG West ceased operation on 14 October , after West Berlin tram and bus drivers had been repeatedly stopped and arrested by East German police for having western currency on them, considered a crime in the East.

The Reichsbahn shut down all of its West Berlin terminal stations and redirected its trains to stations in East Berlin, starting with Berlin Görlitzer Bahnhof — closed on 29 April — before serving rail traffic with Görlitz and the southeast of East Germany.

Travellers from East Germany were checked before entering any part of Berlin, to identify individuals intending to escape into West Berlin or smuggling rationed or rare goods into West Berlin.

On 4 June , the Bahnhof Hennigsdorf Süd station located next to West Berlin was opened solely for border controls, also to monitor West Berliners entering or leaving East Berlin, which they could still do freely, while they were not allowed to cross into East Germany proper without a special permit.

In , the Reichsbahn began construction work on the Berlin outer-circle railway line. This circular line connected all train routes heading for West Berlin and accommodated all domestic GDR traffic, thus directing railway traffic into East Berlin while by-passing West Berlin.

Commuters in the East German suburbs around West Berlin now boarded Sputnik express trains, which took them into East Berlin without crossing any western sectors.

With the completion of the outer-circle railway, there was no further need for express S-Bahn trains crossing the West Berlin border and thus their service ended on 4 May , while stopping S-Bahn trains continued service.

With the construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August , any remaining railway traffic between West Berlin and its East German suburbs ended.

Rail traffic between East and West Berlin was sharply reduced and restricted to a small number of checkpoints under GDR control.

However, international visitors could obtain visas for East Berlin upon crossing one of the checkpoints at the Wall.

This route was open only to persons bearing all the necessary East German permits and visas. While East and West Berlin became formally separate jurisdictions in September , and while there were travel restrictions in all other directions for more than a decade, freedom of movement existed between the western sectors and the eastern sector of the city.

However, time and again Soviet and later East German authorities imposed temporary restrictions for certain persons, certain routes, and certain means of transport.

Gradually the eastern authorities disconnected and separated the two parts of the city. While the Soviets blocked all transport to West Berlin Berlin Blockade between 24 June to 12 May , they increased food supplies in East Berlin in order to gain the compliance of West Berliners who at that time still had free access to East Berlin.

This was seen as support by the communists and as treason by most Westerners. Until that time all over Germany food and other necessary supplies had been available only with ration stamps issued by one's municipality.

By July a mere 19, West Berliners out of a total of almost 2 million covered their food requirements in East Berlin. The new currency was also introduced in West Berlin on 24 June and this, at least officially, was the justification for the Soviet Blockade due to which rationing in West Berlin had to continue.

However, in the course of the Berlin Air Lift some supplies were increased beyond the pre-Blockade level and therefore rationing of certain goods in West Berlin was stopped.

While West Berliners were officially welcome to buy food in East Berlin, the Soviets tried to prevent them from buying other essential supplies, particularly coal and other fuel.

For this reason, on 9 November , they opened checkpoints on 70 streets entering West Berlin and closed the others for horse carriages, lorries and cars, later 16 March the Soviets erected roadblocks on the closed streets.

They also opened so-called "Free Shops" in the Eastern Sector, offering supplies without ration stamps, but denominated at extremely high prices in Eastern Deutsche Marks.

Ordinary East and West Berliners could only afford to buy there if they had income in Western Deutsche Mark and bartered the needed Eastern Deutsche Mark on the spontaneous currency markets, which developed in the British sector at the Zoo station.

After the Blockade, when holders of Western Deutsche Marks could buy as much they could afford, up to five and six east marks were offered for one west mark.

In the East, however, the Soviets had arbitrarily decreed a rate of 1 for 1 and exchanging at other rates was criminalised.

On 12 May the Blockade ended and all roadblocks and checkpoints between East and West Berlin were removed. The Berlin Airlift, however, continued until 30 September in order to build up supplies in West Berlin the so-called Senate Reserve , in readiness for another possible blockade, thus ensuring that an airlift could then be restarted with ease.

On 2 May power stations in East Berlin started again to supply West Berlin with sufficient electricity. Before then, electricity supplies had to be reduced to just a few hours a day after the normal supplies had been interrupted at the start of the Blockade.

However, the Western Allies and the West Berlin City Council decided to be self-sufficient in terms of electricity generation capacity, to be independent of Eastern supplies and not to be held to ransom by the eastern authorities.

On 1 December the new powerhouse West German: However, for a time Eastern electricity continued to be supplied albeit intermittently. Supply was interrupted from 1 July until the end of and then started again until 4 March , when the East finally switched it off.

From then on West Berlin turned into an 'electricity island' within a pan-European electricity grid that had developed from the s, because electricity transfers between East and West Germany never fully ceased.

The 'electricity island' situation was noticed most in situations of particularly high demand; in other areas of Europe peaks in demand could be met by tapping into electricity supplies from neighbouring areas, but in West Berlin this was not an option and for certain users the lights would go out.

Free entry to East Berlin remained possible until and the building of the Wall. Berlin's underground Untergrundbahn, U-Bahn and Berlin's S-Bahn a metropolitan public transit network , rebuilt after the war, continued to span all occupation sectors.

Many people lived in one half of the city and had family, friends, and jobs in the other. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.

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West Berlin historical division, Berlin, Germany. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. You can learn more about this topic in the related articles below.

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