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The Berlin Airlift
Newspaper Accounts

Berliners watch an airlift plane flying overhead. The New York Times followed every development of the blockade and airlift, and its stories were reprinted in Canada's Globe and Mail and other papers around the world.

From September 19, 1948:

U.S. Air Lift Educates Germans and Russians

Our Power to Supply Berlin Has Bolstered Our Diplomatic Position
By James Reston, Special to The New York Times


Russian Objective

The objective of the Russian blockade was fairly obvious. The Russians are evidently convinced that they cannot break the development of the Western German Government and the consolidation of Western Germany into the economy of the West. They are, therefore, seeking in every way possible to consolidate their own position in Eastern Europe and Eastern Germany.

To this end they put the squeeze on Berlin. They cut-off supplies from one sector to another. They cut the electrical power. They even stopped the flow of medical supplies -- all on the pretext of "technical difficulties" on the main railway routes from Western Germany into the former capital.

Their hope evidently was that within a short time the Germans would be forced by the shortages to take radical measures to break the blockade; that they would demand withdrawal of the Western powers and thus leave Berlin and the whole of Eastern Germany to the Soviet Union.

The thirty-four-day supply of goods and the airlift defeated this strategy and the dramatic quality of the air operation has certainly heartened and emboldened the Berliner.

These Berliners are not the apathetic, gray-faced persons this reporter saw a year ago. They are probably not quite as reliable either, as many of the United States officials here think they are.

But something has happened to them. They are certainly going through a process of reading of both sides of the question -- something new for this generation of Germans.

Berlin Impressed
All the evidence available suggests that their love of Marshal Vassily D. Sokolovsky, Soviet Military Governor, and the Russians is not unlimited.

People living under a siege -- even former enemies -- are naturally drawn together, and hungry men naturally tend to support those who feed them against those who blockade their supplies. For the moment, therefore, the feeling between United States officials and the Germans is perhaps slightly on the dreamy side. Nevertheless the planes overhead night and day are a fairly strong argument in favor of the United States and for the moment the Berliner seems impressed.

In the wider sphere of European politics too, United States officials feel the airlift has had a considerable effect.

Berlin has become unfortunately, the symbol not of the German problem, but of the Russian problem and United States efforts here have undoubtedly been reassuring to the West. The feeling seems to be that the United States is keeping its word, and that is always refreshing thing, especially in these parts.

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