Some people call the Berlin Airlift a mercy mission; some people call it a political venture; still others call it a military power play. Whatever it was, it saved the people of Berlin from starvation.
The Soviet blockade had begun. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” June 24, 1948, families were cut in half, people were kept from their homes, and supply ways were blocked as Soviet Russia surrounded West Berlin with a fence and armed guards. The Soviets built a very secure blockade during the following months, complete with watch towers, guard dogs, and snipers.
The allies witnessed this. They watched the men, women, and children of Berlin become deprived. President Truman decided he would not stand by and do nothing. Then again, he did not want to be the reason for a war with Russia. So, instead of using force, Truman initiated a way to get supplies into Berlin without conflict. The plan was to fly goods into West Berlin on a 24-hour basis using an airlift. It was coined “Operation Vittles” or “Berlin Airlift.”
Lt. Gail Halvorsen, “The Chocolate Pilot,” dropped candy from his airplane with handkerchief parachutes. This was called “Operation Little Vittles.” The effort grew, by the end of the airlift, 8,000 tons of food were delivered to Berlin daily.
The Airlift and blockade ended on May 12, 1949. The Allies had delivered 2,323,738 tons of food and supplies (costing about $224,000,000), enough to save Berlin. Berlin’s wall was destroyed 40 years later after Ronald Reagan petitioned for it to be torn down. Edmund Burke’s words remain true, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
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