June 25, 2017

1949. The Berlin Airlift's First Anniversary

The Airlift Continues After the Blockade
"Watching Berlin Airlift flights arrive at a West German airfield for reloading provides local residents with a close-up look at history in the making in June, 1949" (Photo by Gordon Curvan - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

June 25, 1949

Today ends the first year of the Anglo-American airlift, an event marked by an almost miraculous escape from death this morning when a four-engine C-54 airplane stalled and crashed at Tempelhof airdrome just as it was preparing to land.

The right wing of the aircraft touched the ground, the plane turned over and caught fire. Rapid action by German crash crews put out the flame. The three-man crew escaped without serious injury, and although the aircraft is a complete loss, the cargo of ten tons of coal was saved.

West Berlin is celebrating the anniversary by dedicating the square in front of Tempelhof airdrome to the fifty-one American and British fliers who have lost their lives in the airlift.

All attempts to get rail traffic moving into the city have stalled this morning. The Russian-controlled rail management turned down an American request to send in a locomotive and crew to take one of our military trains through the Soviet zone to Hamburg. This request was made last night after the striking rail workers had put the elevated system in shape to operate an emergency service for zonal traffic but still keep the strike on the elevated system operating inside Berlin.

The striking independent union moved to extend its traffic shutdown to include a strike blockade of the entire Russian zone. They asked the rail workers' union in the Western zones not to handle trains into the Soviet zone as long as the Berlin strike is on. The Western railroad workers' union said they sympathized with the anti-Communist strikers here and would make a decision on Monday whether or not to boycott eastbound trains.

The American, British, and French commandants are meeting at this moment in another attempt to find a solution to the Little Blockade.

The Communist press is teeing off again on the United States. American world imperialism and capitalism is now taking its last gasp, according to the Eastern propaganda. The proof of the end of our decadent culture is the fact that we are now reverting to boogie-woogie, jitterbugs, bad literature, and criminal movies.

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