Mapping Modernity

3. Berlin Airlift

31 October 2023

Berlin lifeline during land blockade

This propaganda leaflet with cartographic infographics shows how an airlift negates the land blockade of West Berlin by the Soviets in 1948. The leaflet visualises the logistical operation required to provide people, food, fuel and building materials for 2.5 million West Berliners get to their destinations by plane. When this leaflet appears after 10 months of blockade, everything is running smoothly: along three air corridors, 4.5 million kilos of stuff reach the city every day. Formal reason for the land blockade is introduction of the Westmark (May 1948) for the Britishand US occupation zones. A blockade of this air bridge would violate agreements made in 1945 for access to Berlin’s western zones; thus, the Soviet Union abides by those agreements. It is the first major confrontation in the Cold War between ‘East’ and ‘West’. Within weeks of the blockade being lifted, the Federal Republic of Germany, in May 1949. A few months later, the German Democratic Republic was established. The Iron Curtain is finally lowered.

(US Government?), (Operation Vittles) How the 'Berlin Airlift' functions in keeping the 'Island City' of Berlin supplied with the necessities of life, s.p. 1949. Coll. S/T W.1c.1000, 27.5 x 112.5 cm.