October 1, 2017

1948. Americans Increase the Airlift Operation

More of the Same for Blockaded Berliners
West Berlin news ticker in Potsdamer Platz, first put into operation on October 10, 1950 and designed to be seen from East Berlin, reads: "Die freie Berliner Presse meldet" ("The free Berlin press reports") (info - source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

September 24, 1948

American authorities today are going ahead with plans to increase the Berlin airlift over the Russian blockade. This is the only result thus far of the Moscow negotiations and the special Western Powers meetings in Paris. The unilateral notes sent by the Americans, British, and French governments to the Kremlin are said here to have laid down the final terms for negotiation on the problem of Germany, and depending on the Russian reply expected next week, then the next step by the West probably will be to give the whole situation an airing in the United Nations.

Meanwhile, here in Berlin it will be more of the same. General Clay, who returned from Paris yesterday, announced last week that the airlift will be increased forty percent. Nothing has happened either in Moscow or Paris to change these plans.

The East-West newspaper war that started here in Berlin a couple of weeks ago has virtually stopped the inter-sector exchange of publications. The Soviet-sponsored authorities in Eastern Berlin have closed the newspaper offices of Western sector publications and threatened new vendors with violence if they continue to sell such papers as the American-sponsored Tagesspiegel and the British-sponsored Telegraf.

American occupation authorities announced an hour ago that all Soviet-sponsored newspapers and publications henceforth will be banned from the American zone of Germany. The ban on the Russian-sponsored publications however does not apply to the American sector in Berlin.

General George Hays, deputy military governor for Germany, directs all German authorities to take steps immediately to stop the import of such publications at the zonal borders. Thus far the British and French have taken no action in this respect.

Hays' order comes in retaliation to a Soviet ruling directing the distribution of Western publications through a single agency which, it is charged, has completely stopped the flow of American, British, and French-sponsored newspapers in the Soviet zone.

Here in Berlin, newspaper publishers and dealers already have virtually stopped the exchange of East-West publications. The Western distributors today announced a boycott on Soviet-sponsored publications in reality for a similar boycott in Eastern Berlin.

The storm of German protest that followed the sentencing of five young Germans for participating in an anti-Communist demonstration two weeks ago is credited today for the Soviet action in reducing the sentences. All had been given the maximum penalty allowed under Russian law—twenty-five years at hard labor. However, the Soviet command decided that the five young men had been provoked to action by what they call fascists and militarists. The sentences now range from eight years to one year.

United States authorities have protested a near incident in the airlift corridor early this week. An army plane carrying thirty passengers from Berlin to Frankfurt suddenly found itself escorted by two Yak fighter planes. The startled pilot told how the Russian fighters came in flying tight formation with him, then peeling off for some stunting. But nothing happened.

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