April 3, 2017

1949. Easter in West Berlin

Rumors Swirl in Berlin on Easter Sunday
A crowd in blockaded Berlin celebrates the arrival of a "candy bomber" during Operation Little Vittles, a program started by Gail Halvorsen during the airlift (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

April 17, 1949

Today is the most beautiful Easter Sunday in many years—bright with warm sunshine, the buzzing of bees, and the roar of the airlift.

Despite the blockade, life is good in Berlin today. The Western Powers have allotted two extra hours of electricity a day for the Easter weekend, and everyone gets an extra 100 grams of chocolate. There's a new lion cub at the Berlin zoo which is attracting crowds of children. Along the streets people are dressed in their best clothing—nothing much new, but made-over bonnets with new ribbons are in evidence. And today is so warm that the summer fashion of going stockingless is being introduced ahead of time.

This glorious spring weather—after the blockade winter—creates a great atmosphere of peace that is so contagious that the Berlin newspapers have revived the old rumors that the Russians are preparing to lift the blockade.

These unconfirmable stories include one that Moscow is ready to ease the blockade if it can reach certain trade agreements with the West German zones. Another story reports that the Kremlin is ready to lift the blockade if there is an immediate meeting of the foreign ministers and the neutralization of Berlin—which presumably means the withdrawal of all occupation forces.

There is another unconfirmed story that the former Soviet ambassador to Germany, Dekanozov, is here discussing possible trade relations with West Germany.

But it must be emphasized that no matter how good they sound, they are just an Easter parade of rumors.

The biggest Easter parade in Berlin this year is to the altar. For the past week marriage license bureaus have been open extra hours to take care of the rush of young couples wanting to get married. Registrations are 100 percent over last year, including the marriage of one 76-year-old Berliner.

The traditional gold wedding rings, however, are out. Some couples are overcoming the shortage of rare metals by taking spoons to a jeweler and having silver wedding rings pounded out of them.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.