Skip to comments.Cold War myths
Posted on 06/13/2008 10:16:15 PM PDT by neverdem
As the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift approaches, recycled myths about its accomplishments drop from the sky like candy into the waiting arms of Americans hungry for a foreign policy alternative to endless war and secret torture. But politicians and pundits looking for a humanitarian policy to win the world's hearts and minds should look back to the airlift with caution.
Sixty years after British and American planes began to fly supplies to West Berliners facing a Soviet blockade, even the faux news program "Colbert Report" has reprised the Cold War refrain that the airlift saved the population from starvation and halted the Soviet advance across Europe. But the airlift never provided everything West Berliners needed to stay alive.
While the airlift delivered more than 2.3 million tons of supplies to Berlin, this amount failed to meet West Berlin's food needs, and the planes never even attempted to supply coal to heat private homes. The Western victory in this first Cold War battle came in spite of the fact that the airlift never achieved its ostensible purpose: to fully supply West Berlin.
That the West "won" depended first and foremost on Berliners' survival practices in the face of ongoing scarcity - practices that the great powers could not control and failed to understand. And this Western victory came with costs that were not obvious at the time and have largely been ignored in retrospect.
After World War II, the four victorious allies - Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States - divided Germany into occupation zones. Berlin, located more than 100 miles into the Soviet zone, was likewise divided into four occupation sectors. By spring 1948 the four-power structures designed to administer occupied Germany had collapsed.
On June 24, 1948, the Soviets halted rail and...
(Excerpt) Read more at iht.com ...
Maybe he's hawking his new book?
My guess is he has a few myths of his own.
So he goes on to say the West Berliners were also able to deal under-the-table with the Easterners and purchase and barter for what they needed (before the Wall sealed them off thirteen years later) in addition to what came off the planes. And that the East German commies were never in control of the situation and that (Nyah! Nyah!) the situation was never so desperate as we like to think.
The good professor goes on to say that it was our dangerous mythologizing of the event that solidified the Cold War in the public mind and led to us simple-minded Amerikaners seeing it as a fundamental good vs. evil conflict.
Which we have then simple-mindedly extrapolated to our current “War on Terror.”
So there. Even when we’re good, we’re stoopid. Again, nyah, nyah.
So, it wasn't that the USA won the war that fed them...
it was their will to lose that saved lives?
Well, there you have it. Next he'll say we didn't really take Normandy on D-day.
The IHT probably should try to hire some competent web folks. They can’t manage to get their pages to display on Firefox; I had to use IE to access the story.
In an effort to achieve his agenda, he glosses over the fact that Berlin would have fallen without the airlift.
Indeed, the airlift started not to fully supply West Berlin, but to supply the Allied troops in Berlin.
In the Spring of 2000, approaching the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, we suddenly learned from the press of the “No Gun Re Massacre” - which later turned out to be a total lie but served the left’s purpose by denying the men who served in the US forces in Korea the proper credit and honor they deserved.
Now, on the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift we learn that it really wasn’t that big a deal and had very little to do with why the west ‘”won”’ the cold war.
Is this a pattern?
Republicans are flawed, but they love the country.
We are all online, so "google" the 'Venona intercepts' and you will read messages from agents that worked in the Whire House.
Republican Americans support America, that is my idea.
Democrats trash America, they are commie lovers.
What's this "won" business??? We WON! Where are the Soviets and Communists now?
(Well, okay, under a new name they're running for president, I guess... )
supply coal to heat private homes.
Just a thought; why would the people need coal in the summer.
The temp right now in Berlin is lows in the fifties to sixties and highs in the sixties to eighties.
If they had airlifted coal in the summer the criticism would now be that the airlift was a waste as coal was not needed in the summer and how dumb we were.
It also was to show the Soviets that we still had enough aircraft to face down any challenge to our occupation of West Berlin. They might have been able to take it, but they knew we would make it costly.
COAL: BERLIN'S KEY TO SURVIVAL
The single most critical necessity for Berlin to survive was fuel. Coal became the major cargo of U.S. Air Force C-54s and ultimately made up 65 percent of the total tonnage flown into Berlin. Coal was dirty, dusty and heavy, all of which created major problems for both aircraft and crew. Coal dust seeped into every part of the aircraft, causing damage that included corrosion of control cables and erosion of electrical connections. It caused equal problems for crews, who complained of breathing problems and headaches. The only way to effectively handle the coal, as a cargo, was to place it in bags. Many types of bags were tried, but finally one-half million army surplus duffel bags were found for this purpose. The average USAF C-54 carried 10 tons of bagged coal. The Airlift flew a total of 1.5 million tons of coal into Berlin.
Unless, of course, he's alluding to some touchy, feely, dim lib “cost”-—like someone's hurt feelings or some such nonsense.
No, they won’t go that far. They can’t. There’s too much evidence around to the contrary.
At this time!
However, I do think it’s more than likely that one of these useful idiot eggheads will give us a tome that proves unequivocally that Hitler sired George Bush.
Appearing soon on a bookshelf at your favorite neighborhood bookstore!
Great comment! Thanks for the link!
Looks like reeducation camp for you, my friend!
Well, DUUHHHHH. If they hadn't they might have died! History is repleat with examples of people doing extraordinary things to survive extraordinary conditions. The Airlift did one thing very, very well and that was to prove to the Soviets we were not going to be bullied out of Berlin. Of course, this nitwit writer misses the point choosing to instead concentrate on the failures of the airlift to completly supply Berlin's needs.
Lastly, the Berliners of that era, those who LIVED thru it and many of their offspring KNOW what would have happened had the airlift failed.
Steege gives the game away in the very first paragraph.
(I B not goin back to skewl!)
You must allow the “iht” scrip, I keep the others on “forbid”. Works great.
as usual...America never really achieves anything, is never truly owed any gratitude...
Coming to a history book at your high school:
More tomatoes were going from Russia to West Berlin than East.
Doncha know, West Berliners were really being fed by the Commies not Americans. And all the while the United States was negotiating to give East Germany to the Rooskies.
There was Gen. Marshall conniving with Uncle Joe. "If you don't agree to take East Germany, we will continue to fake this air lift propaganda."
Because 2.3 million tons of supplies is such an ephemeral, insignificant amount of provisions?
So this professor is claiming that market economics, and not a big government program, met the peoples' needs? What a right-wing jerk!
The propagandist who wrote this, Paul Steege, seems quite irritated that the Berlin Airlift resulted in Freedom winning over Oppression.
But that is typical of the Left.
The historical fact is, the Soviets had to back down and the entire world took notice.
Furthermore, Paul Steege is a red diaper baby who "teaches" at Villanova.
Department of History
Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085-1699
tel. 610.519.6963, fax 610.519.4450
Amongst the Democrats and Greens.
“Well, there you have it. Next he’ll say we didn’t really take Normandy on D-day.”
Or better yet...
We shouldn’t have....because it was insensitive to attack w/o negotiating, and bad for the environment...and unnecessary.
What a load of crap! The Berlin Airlift was never meant to nor did we ever expect it would supply “all the needs” of Berliners. The idea was to take away the goal of Russia to hold the citizens hostage while the pursued their nefarious goals.
WE wanted to outlast them and we did.
Good advice to any Leftist that still has a bit of patriotism flickering in their small brains is to “google” the ‘Venona intercepts’
you read the whole story at the link and came to that conclusion?
As well they should have. We were already fighting communism even then. We didn't suffer fools and enemy enablers like we do today.
1. West Berlin stayed free. The objective of the Soviets was to seize West Berlin, they lost.
2. The airlift demonstrated to the very recently vanquished Berliners that the West would stand by them and not let them fall to the Communists.
3. The airlift demonstrated to the Soviets that their bid for greater hegemony over Europe would be stopped.
People that claim to be historians should study history and apply logic, not make up fantasies - if the West hadn't carried out the airlift and its simultaneously conducted military movements and diplomatic response, Berlin would have fallen, whether the black marketeers were resourceful or not: the Soviets had T-34 tanks - the Berliners didn't.
Villanova's standards seem to have slipped.
You have that exactly correct!
Very well put, and thank you!
What part of his opinion led you to think otherwise?
You left out another key benefit of the airlift - it fundamentally changed the relationship between the Allies and the former German military and destroyed the anti-fraternization standards.
The US and other allies had to recruit former Luftwaffe personnel to provide ground service for the aircraft. Although the German mechanics and the Americans were supposed to communicate only to the limited amount needed to actually get the job done, as a practical matter, legal barriers as well as social barriers were overcome.
Odd that the supposed historian didn't catch that... but that concept probably didn't correspond with his politics.
He probably misses the good old "German Democratic Republic".
And how does that contradict his thesis?
Paul Steege>Rejecting the standard account of a total blockade does not deny the incredible technical accomplishments of the airlift or the sacrifice of the American and British personnel killed while flying supplies to the former German capital. Nor does it deny the ruthlessness of the Soviet and German Communists who showed no qualms about defending their hold on power with brutal violence
Not exactly terms one would use for being upset at the outcome.
But I suppose some people insist on hagiography, myths, etc., and can't accept that the typical beliefs might be wrong--yet it was still a great victory.
From what he has written since he started Grad School, the West didn't do anything - the Germans did it all by themselves.
Not hardly. The airlift was not only necessary, it was indespensible.
Berlin would have been Soviet if the West hadn't move decisively. The only question left is why he is pushing alternate history so aggressively.
I give up. Why?
And why do you ask?
“Maybe he’s hawking his new book? “
Might I suggest a more accurate/palatable view of history?
(See amazon link below)
I’ve not read the book yet (mostly due to time constraints).
BUT, I was impressed when the border-line socialist and English immigrant
talk-radio host on one of our major stations interviewed the author
of this book.
For once, the fairly hard-bitten, cynical fellow actually melted a
bit and applauded the story of “The Chocolate Bombers” that saved West
Berlin from Stalin and his hordes.
N.B.: I’m suprised the book has a FIVE-STAR rating from eleven reviewers
(10 five-stars and one four-star).
Usually, by that number of reviewers, you get some liberal/crank
revisionist coming along to say such a book is just a whorish exercise
in Christian Fundamentalist NeoCon revisionism.
The Candy Bombers:
The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America’s Finest Hour
by Andrei Cherny