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The Berlin Airlift

After the Second World War, Germany was divided into four zones and occupied by Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Between 1947 and 1948, cooperation between these powers broke down.

The west decided to create a separate government in their zones. To prevent this, the Soviets increasingly harassed the western traffic to and from Berlin. It intensified into the Berlin Blockade on June 24, 1948.

To counter the blockade, the western powers organized and airlifted a total of 2,326,406 tons of food, coal, passengers, and other items into the city in a total of 278,228 flights. The mission nicknamed “Operation Vittles” by the United States and “Plain Fare” by the British, was a success. The Soviets did not respond to the airlift by trying to stop it, mainly because they believed that they would have failed or triggered a war. At the height of the airlift, planes flew around the clock in four hour blocks taking off and landing every 90 seconds. At any given time there were thirty-two aircraft in the air.

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