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tv   Reel America NATO Background to Berlin - 1962  CSPAN  August 14, 2018 3:44pm-4:15pm EDT

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crimes and talks about his book, blood and i have, the 1849 murder that scandalized harvard. saturday night at 8:00 eastern during lectures in history a class by rutgers university professor jefferson decker on the history of the environment movement and laws and litigation regarding natural resources. and sunday night at 8:00, during our weekly look at the presidency, harry truman's russia policy, which became known as the cold war. after he outlined his plan to contain communism during an address to congress in 1947. 70 years ago the soviet union blocked off eastern berlin. in response, the western powers organized the berlin air lift. cargo planes dropped supplies into the isolated part of the city until may of 1949. next on reel america, a 1962 film documenting the city of berlin from the ends of world war ii to the construction of the berlin wall in 1961.
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produced by the nato information service, this half hour film details the berlin air lift, and the creation of the north atlantic treaty organization, now called nato, to defend against soviet aggression. the building of walls, the erection of barbed wire and barriers, these can never for long divide peoples. never create a permanent prison for the human spirit. for the strength of a wall is measured only by the fear of those who built it. this was the city 30 years ago,
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a city then one of the great nest the world, in size and stature, ranking with london, paris, rome, new york. alive and a unity, this was berlin in the 1930s. no barriers at the brandenberg atoll. no guards at the blats dammoplats. but this was berlin before hitler came to power. 1945. and this was berlin, a city in name only and geographical location.
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amid the rubble of destruction the flags of the victors, men who had taken up arms in self-defense with the common aim to destroy that which menaced them all. around them, a defeated nation for their armys had met in the very middle of germany. until such time as germany could reshape her own destiny she would be divided into separate zones of occupation each controlled by an allied power. american, british, french, russian. economically she would be treated as a whole. this the victors had agreed when they met to decide the future of germany. even then, some had reservations about mutual trust. about you a world war just over, they had to trust one another or else begin another war. for berlin it was to be each par with its sector, but a -- each power with its sector but a city open to all the powers until
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berlin could again resume her role as the capital of the german state. access to the city for the other powers was agreed over certain roads, railways and three air corridors. makeshift, perhaps. but then it was never meant to be permanent. in berlin, they set up the headquarters of an allied command where day-by-day officers of the four occupying powers would administer berlin by cooperation, joint agreement over what was to be done and how. frankly, what was to be done meant starting again from scratch. yet amid the ruins and the deprivation slowly a start was made a. start not only upon the physical reconstruction, but also the political rebirth of
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the city. it would appear that the soviets had agreed to joint occupation only because they believed that in the first re-elections berlin would vote communist. so it was with confidence that they watched the democratic processes of free ballot. although communist support in berlin was far from negligible, for them the results came as a shock. instead of a landslide for the extreme left there came instead a victory for the social democrats and other non-communists. but when in june 1947 the assembly elected righter for mayor this provided victory without fruit. for an allied command they vetoed his election. it was a step ominous and foreboding. until that moment the city had been divided in name only. but from then on the russians made the divisions more clear-cut.
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they set up a communist system in under own sector and established decided barriers between it and those of their recent allies. these from the years in custom the expression iron curtain became a reality. along a line from the baltic to balkans, a clampdown n. place of the comradeship of victory, barbed wire, suspicion and distrust. years of disillusionment. meanwhile there flowed refugees east to west. soon it became clear that most were moving westwards because they could not tolerate life in the east. again, an ominous sign. in the eastern sector of berlin, communist power was fully established. party buses, party youth, party rallies permeated with all the hysteria previously associated with the nazis.
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by organizing special police and paramilitary units the soviets were illegally rearming east germany. in the world consult of the united nations with war weary were endeavoring to establish a lasting peace. but these were the days of stallinist extension so by repeated refusals to cooperate except on their own terms the soviet delegates sabotaged any progress towards real stability. on the 23rd of june, 1948, west berlin introduced monetary reform without which economic recovery would have been impossible. new noted for old. the currency was revalued. for the russians, their disagreement gave them the excuse for action. west berlin they could not touch. but they could and did interfere with the lifelines on which west berlin depended. the roads, the railways, the canals.
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these were west berlin's vital arteries. so stop the trains. close the roads. bar the canals, and cut the power. west berlin was 100 miles deep in the soviet zone of germany. this was to be the way to force the western allies to quit berlin. thus, 2 million people were isolated. to be faced with the prospect of hunger, cold, unemployment, and misery. no way in. no way out. the only elements still open, the air above. it started as a trickle, as a temporary measure. plane after plane, destination,
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the air fields of west berlin. the vital necessities, food, raw materials, even coal, brought in by air until the united states, great britain, and france were embarked upon the biggest air transport operation history has ever seen. around the clock, plane after plane. even flying boats to set down on best berlin's lakes. in the beleaguered city, power shortage enforced skeleton transport services. food shortage necessitated careful diction and queues. rather short measure than surrender.
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as each night fall, the roar of arrow engines continued dependent for the most part on power from the eastern sector, west berlin was plunged each night in blackout. but still, the air lift continued through the hours of darkness. when west berliners rose each dawn it was again to the roar of planes. but because of those planes, there was bread in the shops. and this was to be the pattern for many a hard month ahead. it was to be expected the soviets would not take the air lift without some reaction. across the eastern boundary the communists staged demonstrations against what they called this western interference with berlin affairs. this in turn led to riots that forced the non-conformist counsellors to abandon the town hall in the eastern sector. in the western the unit of the blockade was overwhelming.
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symbolized by riter. any joint administration of berlin as a whole had already seesed to exist, a fact emphasized by the abandonment by the russians of the allied command attura. city government for greater berlin was impossible since the western counsellors have been
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driven from the east. so reuter and the new communists moved into new quarters in the west. at their meetings empty chairs stood witness to the fact that the east berliners were denied the right to choose their representatives freely. it had to be a tough winter. in spite of the conditions, the airlift carried on. in spite of the conditions and the loft. by means of the air lift, west berlin had been kept alive. but only at a cost. all the sufferings of war in the midst of peace. there could be no turning back
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now. if the russians thought that the city could not be supplied indefinitely by air, they were going to be proved very wrong. for the air lift, all possible reinforcement. more planes. improved runways. greater facilities. and so had begun as make shift became routine. food and supplies, month in, month out. soon it became clear that the west had not only won a victory against logistics but also a modern victory which drew the admiration of the world thanks to the crews of the airlift. victory through determination to
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defend the right. meanwhile series of signatures on a piece of paper had turned into practical steps toward military cooperation and collective within nato. indeed the growth of unity in the west was such that the russians, though still breathing threats, realized that their pressure was inducing the very opposite of that disunity in which they counted. and so for the free world, an historic night. the night when on the outer bound, the barriers were pushed aside for the first time in nine months, as the trucks and cars streamed forward, this train for berlin read once again. but if the russians believed
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that the lifting of the blockade would cause the west to lower its guard they were mistaken. nato had been born and until the east displayed a very vastly different spirit, nato was to stay. no stopping now as yet forces were still weak, but as soon as possible they must be built up a strong defensive shield and what now, berlin, having won with western help now begin the process of placing west berlin on to a basis of economic prosperity. a city still an island linked with the world only by the arteries who's continued existence had been so hardly won. but now, through them, west berlin was to draw strength to
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make itself no longer just a fragment of a city but a unity within itself. yet still across berlin as a whole, there was much traffic over the borders. berliners came and went. true, the sector boundaries still loomed up, but they did not prevent passage across the city so it was passage inform difficulties. at the eastern sector border the trams, though continuing on, nonetheless were forced to change both drivers and conductors. while at this border too, anyone passing had first to change his money for the east did not except western money and visa versa. still a steady movement both ways. why not? when all were berliners.
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but there were many passing but one way, a steady stream of refugees to the west, a steady stream unceasing since the end of world war ii but growing day by day as life became more intolerable under a communist regime. the island of west berlin had become the staging point for the free world to the west. to all but the most prejudice, it was all that far was from perfect. on the 17th of june, 1953, came proof. on that day a protest march of east berlin workers turned into a general rebellion against the communist regime. that regime was helpless against the disorder until in desperation they called in the
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red army. and so because stones and courages against tanks are not enough, the revolt died. after the june uprising the movement of refugees could no longer be termed a stream. it had become a flood. throughout the western sectors of berlin, the honey factories were evidence of their rising prosperity. soon indeed west berlin once to become again the most powerful production ceremony in all of germany. before the -- crowds passed to pay homage to the man that
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helped save their city. he was dead but his work was already showing great results. meanwhile, indonesia's uneasy truce, the soviet union had systematically turned her zone into a purely communist regime and blocked every attempt to treat germany as a whole. the three western powers had no alternative to move forward with the economic reunification of their zones. this was followed by political unification. independence was not long in coming and there was born a new sovereign state, the federal republic of germany. the status of berlin, however, was not changed. it remained the responsibility of the four occupying powers and the garrison's stayed. the guarantee of security for western germany depended on the overall strength of the atlantic alliance. chancellor and the federal parliament agreed that the new republic should join nato so bringing the organization
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strength up to 15 nations. and by now, strength was no misnomer, for though the crisis was far from over, nato's power was such as to make any aggressor think carefully. now the west could negotiate from a position of strength and confidence. at the geneva summit, the soviets paid lip service to the reunification but blocked any practical purpose. all the trying could not break down the iron curtain, but for west berlin it was still go ahead to the traveler flying in, the city displayed a brave new face. first on arrival, he would see the memorial to the airlift, a sign that west berlin remembers those who won its survival. after that, a new skyline risen from the rubble. if west berliners had as the
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communists alleged little hope for the future, it was not apparent in the face of their steadily facing city. in west berlin, a new look. in east berlin -- from beyond it, still thousands arriving, still a flood to airlift off the island to find new homes in the west. in the face of continued soviet obstruction, the 15 nato nations sought to clear the soviet's minds as to how the alliance stood on the thorny question of berlin. already, in 1954, the three powers responsible for berlin had made it clear beyond doubt that any attack against berlin
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from any quarter would be treated as an attack on their forces and on themselves. the other members of nato immediately associated themselves with this declaration. the reunification of germany applied their refusal to -- to which the west was and is firmly committed. until such time as the soviets change their minds, the nato nations will stand firm and face an all soviet pressure to main the freedom of west berlin and its people, a pledge often repeated at nato meetings. so, until there was a change of front on the part of the east, it would seem that germany and berlin would remain divided but evidence that the status quo did not suit everybody in the east was the continuing flood of refugees passing through to west berlin. in november 1958, soviet pressure comes on again.
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there's a crisis by threatening to sign a separate peace treaty with the east germans. paris, may 1960, mousses the u2 incident to break up the summit conference which was meant to bring the berlin and german questions nearer to a solution. he drops his threat but does not change his tune. berlin he alleges is the capital of a sovereign east germany and the allies must be made to quit berlin. the force is there. men and armor. june the 4th, 1961, he repeats his threat to sign a separate peace treaty with east germany which he claims, wrongly, will end all western rights in berlin and so on. move after move until -- on the
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13th of august, 1961, a wall of east german police stands at the brandenburg gate. but soon they give voice to the indignation. after all objections, all approaches, the only answer jets of water from eastern armored trucks. soviet attacks on the rights of the western powers in berlin showed that the war was meant to be a step towards control of the whole city, towards forcing out the western powers. as the last escape route, final
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scrambles so as not to be left behind in the prison. and this was an exodus not confined merely to the civilians, even among the east german police guarding and maintaining the new barrier, there were some who decide that had they too had reached the end of their tether. and there was nothing left for it but to cut and run. at protest meetings held in the western sectors, the mayor and people of west berlin called for help and support from the three western powers. and they did not call in vain.
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along the outer bound leading to the city came reinforcements. in all, these garrisons number only 12,000 men, a small force compared to the massive weight of the 20 soviet divisions that surround the city. a force so small that it gives the lie to soviet charges that berlin is a western base. but these reinforcements where the symbol of western determination. they demonstrated to the soviet union that any aggression threatening the life of west berlin could bring into power the offensive power of the west. a firm stand, so far and no
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further. brick by brick until no contact but a friendly wave. so when the chancellor visited the crisis area, he was met my radio truck insults by a wall. its strength is measured only by the fears of those who build it. by night, by tunnels, somehow a few still managed to make their escape, though others failed and riddled with east german bullets. so that thissed to is the plots where freedom like the trams comes to the end of the line. but for the west, such settlements are unacceptable, ever since the atlantic appliance was created, it has
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driven to resolve all problems by peaceful negotiations, including the reunification of germany and berlin in freedom. but it is negotiation from the strength necessary to withstand the threat of force and in nato's determination to resist aggression lies the hope for peace and freedom of millions all over the world. america in turmoil.
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can you listen to the podcasts on on our 1968 page. if you missed any of today's program, we'll show it again at 8:00 eastern. wednesday, american history tv continues with a developmentst automotive industry in the u.s. and how cars changes american life. will show a 50th anniversary commemoration from march and friday the world war i centennial ceremony and a look at various aspects from the war as discussions from u.s. army heritage days. this weekend during our regular american history tv programming will take a look at the murder of one of boston's richest men while he was visiting harvard university in 1849. english professor paul collins specializes in 19th century crimes and he talks about his latest book, "blood and ivy," the 1849 murder that scandalized harvard. then saturday night, a class by rutgers university professor jefferson decker on the history of the environmental movement
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and laws and litigation regarding natural resources. and sunday night at 8:00 during our weekly look at the presidency, harry truman's russia policy which became known as the cold war after he outlined his plan to contain communism during an address to congress in 1947. next, from our series 1968, american in turmoil we look back to the cold war and the race to the moon. as 1968 came to a close, the apollo 8 mission took three astronauts into the moon's orbit for the first time. it was watched by millions worldwide. our guests are elizabeth cobbs and mark kramer.


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