Berlin Blockade and The Airlift

Berlin Blockade Reviews:

DESCRIPTION: The publisher has built a solid reputation by releasing  a number of series of military history books with a high photographic content. This series promises to become as popular as the well-established Images of War series and similarly makes use of rare  photographs, with full colour sketches and drawings to augment the photographs. The Cold War effectively began in 1945, but the Western Allies initially responded passively to Soviet expansion. The Berlin  Blockade marked a new stage in the war and the Allies struck back
brilliantly – Strongly Recommended.

Having experienced a period of appeasement, Stalin felt it was time to remove the Western Allies from Berlin to create an exclusive Russian occupation of East Germany and then prepare to roll forward to the North Sea and Channel coasts. The large Russian forces then stationed in and around Berlin could have simply rolled over the notional borders into West Berlin, but he did not want to risk a fire fight at that point. Like Hitler before him, he looked to expand in small bites that got larger and larger, reducing the ability of the opposing nations to resist the final hot war. So Stalin decided the simple solution would be to close the agreed land corridors from West Germany to West Berlin and choke the Berliners and the Western Allies occupation forces in the city. It must have seemed such a simple process and one which the Allies were unlikely to prevent.

What followed came as a severe shock to Stalin and set the course of the Cold War that would be followed by both the Soviet Union and NATO, with the Soviets running up increasing mountains of debt and falling behind NATO as US and British development and manufacturing capabilities out-performed the Soviets, eventually bankrupting the Soviets and forcing Glasnost and the end of the Cold War.

What was amazing was the speed with which the Allies built a massive air bridge to provide a logistics corridor into West Berlin. The air forces of the Allies included very capable transport aircraft that were immediately deployed. Their capabilities were expanded by new airlines, mostly flying war surplus transport aircraft and modified bombers. The logistic operation was enormous and the challenge was in managing the continuous flow of hundreds of aircraft from many different organizations and nationalities.

The Lancaster heavy bomber had spawned the Lancastrian and York transport and passenger variants. The Sunderland flying boats and the US Catalina amphibians complemented the land aircraft, making use of Berlin’s rivers and lakes. Gliders were also used and the Americans employed an interesting method for recovering the gliders to clear the landing grounds and reuse the machines.

By any standard the Berlin Airlift was an amazing achievement. It ended when the Soviets had to admit defeat and reopen the land corridors. The importance of the great operation is difficult to understate, making it all the more surprising that it has received such poor coverage from historians. It was more than just containment of Soviet expansion plans. It was effectively the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The Soviets next tried a major conventional war in Korea because their original plans at progressive staged expansion in Europe had been halted by the Berlin Airlift. That war also failed, not least because the US was able to mobilize the United Nations to send a multi-national army to South Korea. Without the victory in Berlin, that UN army might never have been formed.

Berlin Airlift Veterans Association
With excellent details encompassing the British portion of the airlift Berlin Blockade also highly details the American side. The book has beautiful colour graphics of the aircraft, maps and unit insignia’s plus B&W photographs not seen in previous American publications.  This book contains one of the best detailed descriptions of the black market and the value of cigarettes and how the Allies provided them in the tens of thousands. This a most excellent book about the RAF effort.

Air Fan, October/November 2017 – reviewed by Sam Pretat
Using many maps and vintage pictures, the author reports in depth the hard time the Allies had standing their ground to face their former partner, Staline who denied his previous Yalta position. Intimidations, brutal provocations, propaganda, and rescue operations (including the famous Berlin airlift), this is the first hot spot of the Cold War that is being told here in a new World order.

RUSI Victoria
Raised in Rhodesia, Gerry van Tonder in the late 1990s moved to Britain where he has written numerous military and historical works. Malayan Emergency is a second title he has in this Cold War series. His eminently readable account of the Berlin ‘moves and counter moves’ is punctuated by newspaper reports and letters of the day, topical photographs, excellent maps and compendium of the aircraft used and Allied military insignia.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) – Miniaturas JM
The visual section of the work is very complete, 100 photographs in black and white, 1 in colour and 8 colour plates in which we find maps, a collection of badges and various profiles of airplanes.
A hot and hot topic about the end of the Cold War.

Brilliant pictorial review at this address:
Berlin Blockade. Hola Amigos… Hoy voy a hablaros sobre el libro “Berlin Blockade” (Bloqueo de Berlín…

Berlin Airlift Veteran Norman Hurst
I write to you as an interested member of the diminishing number of Berlin Airlift veterans. In the course of the last sixty-nine years I have read many volumes concerning the Blockade but it was not until reading your latest book that I realised just how much activity was going on behind the scenes during my period of attachment at Wunstorf that lasted from July 1st until 17 November 1948. The use of provincial newspapers I found novel. One of my favourites concerned the suggestion that RASC officers were waiting for aircraft to return so that they could supervise parties of German/Displaced Persons in reloading them. No, the teams were led by the trained rank and file of the Air Dispatch companies who oversaw the loading and lashing of cargoes. Your work deserves to be a success.

Mrs J Howard, Treasurer, British Berlin Airlift Association
Thank you for the generous gift of your book Berlin Blockade. I have been away for two weeks so it was a really welcome surprise on my arrival home. I was particularly interested in the ‘At What Cost’ as this was information I did not know. There are many interesting photos and my late husband would probably have read the book twice by now, he was not a Veteran of the Berlin Airlift but had a great interest in the history of the Blockade, it was Bernard who actually ‘volunteered’ me to be the Treasurer about ten years ago.

Eddie Ide, Berlin Airlift Veterans Association, USA
Gerry van Tonder a former Rhodesian soldier now a citizen of England has published a history of the Cold War with a heavy emphasis on the Berlin Airlift titled Berlin Blockade Cold War 1945-1991.
With excellent details encompassing the British portion of the airlift it also highly details the American side. This book has beautiful color graphics of the aircraft, maps and unit insignias plus B & W photos not seen in previous American publications.
The book leads into the airlift with details of the battle of Berlin, the German resistance and follows with compelling reading of the “after battle” plus stories of the citizens and their plight. It details the interesting relationships between the Allied and Russian leaders. This book contains one of the best detailed descriptions of the black market and the value of cigarettes as money and how the allies provided them in the tens of thousands.
The aftermath of the Airlift has good details describing the beginning of the Cold War; but it lacks details beyond 1950. This is a most excellent book.