Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
The Berlin Airlift
Newspaper Accounts

Chinese soldiers poorly armed, snuggled close to the land as their camouflaged caps indicate. In 1949, The Sydney Morning Herald kept close watch on the civil war in China that would result in the establishment of the People's Republic of China by year's end. But it was good news from half a world away that made the front page on Friday, May 13, 1949.


Road, Rail Supplies Go Through

From Our Staff Correspondent and A.A.P.

BERLIN, May 12. -- Berlin people really knew the blockade was off when at one minute past midnight last night --

  • The big Soviet-controlled Klingenberg power station switched on the lights in the Western sectors of the city; and
  • Soviet-controlled Berlin radio announced: "At this moment, all traffic and trade restrictions between the Soviet zone of Germany and the Western zone and within Berlin imposed since January 1, 1948, are being lifted on the orders of the four occupation Powers."


Berlin is the happiest city in the world to-day.

After months of tension and austerity and the recent days when skepticism tempered the hopes of more than two million people besieged in the Western sectors, the whole city is lit with jubilation to-day.

Great crowds -- singing, laughing, and cheering every Allied vehicle -- are parading the ruin-lined streets decorating tramcars with bunting garlands and slogans -- "Berlin lives again," and "hail to the new era."

With trains, lorries and a never-ending stream of airlift planes pouring supplies into the city's larder, West Berlin is tasting normal life for the first time for 11 months.


One of the first passenger trucks leaves for Hannover in the British Zone, 12 May 1949. Sign reads "Hurrah! We're still Alive!" Laden with potatoes and other vegetables, a cavalcade of lorries poured into the city this morning after a breakneck race along the Helmstedt-Berling Highway.

The placings were: 16 tons of cucumbers, time four hours, first; 13 tons of leeks, time four hours seven minutes, second.

The winning driver won 10 bottles of schnapps, three bottles of wine, a golden wreath and a number of cash awards.



General Lucius Clay, the retiring United States Military Governor in Germany, spoke of the significance of the lifting of the blockade when he addressed the Berlin City Assembly to-day.

"The end of the blockade does not merely mean that trains and trucks are moving again," he said. "It has a deeper significance.

"The people of Berlin have earned their right to freedom and to be accepted by those who love freedom everywhere.

"The people of Berlin," he went on, "ranked with the American and British pilots who fed the city as the real heroes of the blockade."

The Soviet-controlled Berlin Radio announced that all Berliners were invited to a mass demonstration in the Soviet sector to-day "to manifest the will of Berlin for a united capital and an undivided Germany."

back to top page created on 01.19.2007

The Berlin Airlift American Experience