Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

The Incredible Story of the Berlin Airlift

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

Have you ever wondered how the Berlin Airlift, one of the most remarkable humanitarian efforts in history, began? In this article, we will explore the events that led to the start of the Berlin Airlift and its significance in shaping post-World War II Europe.

The Context: Post-WWII Germany

Following the end of World War II in 1945, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the victorious Allied powers: the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and France. Berlin, the capital of Germany, was also divided into four sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet-occupied zone.

Tensions quickly arose between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies, leading to a blockade of West Berlin by the Soviets. On June 24, 1948, the Soviets cut off all land and water access to West Berlin in an attempt to force the Western Allies out of the city and gain full control.

The Allied Response

A Desperate Situation

The people of West Berlin found themselves trapped in a dire situation. The Soviets cut off all supply lines, leaving the city with a severe shortage of food, fuel, and other essential items. Additionally, the city’s infrastructure was devastated by the war, making it impossible to sustain the population without external assistance.

The Birth of an Idea

Faced with this crisis, the Western Allies had to come up with a plan to support West Berlin. General Lucius D. Clay, the Military Governor of the United States Zone in Germany, proposed an audacious idea – to supply West Berlin by air. The idea was met with skepticism but was ultimately seen as the only viable solution.

Operation Vittles: The Berlin Airlift

On June 26, 1948, just two days after the Soviet blockade began, the Western Allies launched Operation Vittles, later known as the Berlin Airlift. The goal was to airlift supplies to West Berlin, bypassing the Soviet blockade entirely.

The Logistics

Supplying an entire city by air was an enormous logistical challenge. Overcoming this hurdle required careful planning and coordination by the Western Allies. The operation involved the use of military transport aircraft flown by the air forces of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The airlift required specialized aircraft, primarily C-47 Dakotas and C-54 Skymasters, capable of carrying large quantities of supplies. Over time, the airlift evolved into a highly organized operation, with planes landing in West Berlin every few minutes.

A Remarkable Achievement

The Berlin Airlift demonstrated the incredible resolve and determination of the Western Allies. They successfully managed to sustain West Berlin by delivering over 2.3 million tons of supplies, including food, fuel, and other essential goods, during the operation.

The End of the Blockade

The Soviet blockade of West Berlin continued for over a year, causing immense hardship for the people living in the city. However, the blockade ultimately proved futile. The Western Allies’ unwavering commitment to West Berlin and the massive scale of the airlift made it impossible for the Soviets to achieve their objectives.

On May 12, 1949, the Soviet Union finally lifted the blockade, realizing that it had failed to break the spirit of West Berlin. The Berlin Airlift had emerged as a resounding symbol of Western determination, solidarity, and the rejection of Soviet aggression.

The Legacy

The Berlin Airlift marked a significant turning point in post-World War II Europe. It solidified the division between East and West and laid the foundation for the subsequent Cold War. The airlift highlighted the stark contrast between the democratic ideals of the Western Allies and the oppressive regime of the Soviet Union.

Moreover, the Berlin Airlift became a powerful symbol of humanitarian aid and international cooperation. It showcased the lengths to which nations would go to protect the freedom and well-being of their fellow citizens, even in the face of immense challenges.


The Berlin Airlift, a remarkable chapter in history, began as a response to a desperate situation. The Western Allies, through their relentless determination and audacious plan, successfully supplied West Berlin by air, despite the Soviet blockade. This bold humanitarian effort not only sustained the people of West Berlin but also became a powerful symbol of resolve, solidarity, and freedom. The legacy of the Berlin Airlift continues to inspire and remind us of the importance of coming together in times of adversity.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.


  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free