Tuesday, September 25, 2018

70 Years of the Berlin Airlift

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 1949, which is widely considered a turning point in the German-American relationship.
After the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into the American, British, French and Soviet occupation zones. Although Berlin lay within the Soviet occupation zone, the city itself was also divided into four sectors. In 1948, the Allied nations created a single new currency – the Deutsche Mark – for their occupation zones. The Soviets were displeased with this move, fearing that this new currency would devalue the Reichsmark they were using in the East. As a result, they began a blockade of West Berlin, hoping to starve the western powers out of the city. Without the intervention of the Allies, there would have been a humanitarian disaster and many people would have starved to death.
In response to the blockade, the Western Allies had to come up with a plan to provide food and supplies to the people of West Berlin. They launched the Berlin Airlift – an initiative consisting of more than 270,000 flights that brought up to 8,893 tons of supplies to West Berliners each day. After several months, the Soviets lifted the blockade in May of 1949.
This airlift saved many lives and was the start of a long-lasting friendship between Germany and the US. The German people are eternally grateful for the help they received from the US and the Western Allies during the blockade.
This past week, the German Embassy in Washington held several events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, including an event at the Air Force Memorial that featured a flyby of the C-54 Skymaster (the type of plane used in the Airlift), the A400M of the German Air Force and a C-17 of the US Air Force.
Our special guest was Colonel Gail Halverson, a veteran of the Berlin Airlift who was often called “Uncle Wiggly Wings” for dropping chocolate bars from his “candy bomber” plane.
“Colonel Halverson, we owe you and your comrades a great deal – the German people will always be grateful!” said German Ambassador Emily Haber at the Air Force Memorial on Sunday. In addition to attending the commemorative event, Halverson also spoke to school groups on Monday at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
“The airlift was a turning point in the relations between our countries,” Ambassador Haber continued. It also “marked a strategic battle in the beginning of the Cold War. The United States and its allies won this battle. They saved the freedom of Berlin. And they won the hearts and minds of the German people.”
This is a contribution of Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

If you want to know more about the Airlift, read:
Berlin in the Cold War. The Battle For The Divided City, by Thomas Flemming.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Annual Steuben Parade on September 15!

The annual Steuben Parade is just around the corner!  On September 15, we will be participating in the parade along New York City’s Fifth Avenue. And it’s one we definitely can’t miss: the Steuben Parade is one of the largest gatherings of German- Americans in the world!
Thousands of participants and spectators attend the annual parade, and we can’t wait to be among them! Let's take a look at who this large event is named after:
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1794) has long been a symbol of German-American friendship. The Prussian-born military officer fought in two major wars, but is best known for his contributions on American soil. His experience gained during the Seven Years' War equipped him with a wealth of military knowledge that helped the young man rise in the ranks. When he was in his thirties, he found himself in debt, and hoped to find employment in a foreign army to gather funds. In 1777, the young baron was introduced to General George Washington by means of a letter. Soon thereafter, he was on his way to the United States, where he offered to volunteer his services without pay. Arrangements were made so that Steuben would be paid for his services after the war, based on his contributions.
And he did not fail to impress: Von Steuben became inspector general and major general of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and he is often credited as being one of the founders of the Continental Army. In the final years of the war, the Prussian-born military officer even served as General Washington's chief of staff. Finally, in 1784, he became an American citizen.
Today, there are celebrations throughout the US that are named after Von Steuben, including the German-American Steuben Parades in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. There is also a Steuben Society, an educational and fraternal organization that was founded in 1919 to help organize the German-American community. We even have a statue of Von Steuben at the German Embassy in Washington!
As we celebrate German-American friendship, culture and heritage, Von Steuben is a name that we will always remember.

This is a contribution from Nicole Glass at The Week in Germany

Happy Steuben Day Parade from Eva at Berlinica!  

Route and locations.



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