Though Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany is now closed, this memorial to the Berlin Airlift there is still clearly visible from the A5 Autobahn which runs alongside the Frankfurt AirportSixty years ago, the Berlin Airlift was nearing full swing after the Soviets blockaded West Berlin in a bid to starve out the occupying Allied troops and bring the entire city under Soviet control. The blockade had started on 24 June, 1948 cutting off supplies to the city from the west over road and rail lines. In cutting off Allied Forces, the Soviets were perfectly willing to starve West Berlin's civilian residents, as well.
From its start near the end of June of 1948 to its official end in September 1949 (the Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949), American, British and French aircraft delivered enough food, coal and fuel to keep Berlin's citizens fed and warm through the winter.
Aside from serving up a humiliating defeat to Josef Stalin and his pack of commies, the airlift sent the clear message that the US, Britain and France wouldn't abandon their new allies and set the tone for the rest of the Cold War.
Some interesting facts about the Berlin Airlift from this Wikipedia article on the topic:
- Tons of goods delivered: 2,326,406
- Number of flights flown: 278,228
- Total miles flown: 92 million (nearly the distance of Earth to the sun)
- Lives lost: 101 (mainly due to crashes)
- Aircraft lost: 25
- Cost of airlift: $224 million (around $2 billion adjusted for inflation)