June 11, 2017

1949. Western Allies Pay Tribute to Lives Lost in the Berlin Airlift

Memorial Ceremony Held in Faßberg
The Berlin Airlift Monument at Platz der Luftbrücke in Berlin, January 26, 1954 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 29, 1949

The men who made the airlift possible—American, British, and French soldiers and fliers—gathered at Faßberg in the British zone this morning to pay final tribute to 59 of their comrades who died flying over the Russian blockade.

It was an impressive gathering with the playing of national anthems of three countries, and as low-flying planes roared overhead, the sound of "Taps," the British "Last Post," and the French reveille completed the ceremony.

The staging of the memorial service at this time again has revived speculation that American and British authorities in Germany are preparing to slacken or halt airlift activities as an economy measure. The lifting of the Russian blockade of Berlin is now being judged as permanent Soviet policy. However, it is expected that the US Air Force will continue to operate Berlin's airlift on a skeleton basis while at the same time maintaining its ground installations, just in case.

Occupation vocabulary in Germany is a confusing hodgepodge of initials, the most famous of which was OMGUS, meaning Office of Military Government of the United States.

With the institution of a civilian High Commission to handle our relations, OMGUS is disappearing. John McCloy's headquarters has a name that sounds like an interrupted belch. It will be known as HICOG—or High Commission for Occupied Germany.

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