The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller appeared at Tempelhof Airport today, with partners who are supporting the upcoming celebration for the 70th anniversary, in order to present the plans for the event and other details.
The organizers are expecting 50,000 visitors. “Exactly seventy years after the end of the Soviet Union’s Berlin Blockade in 1949, Berlin will be commemorating this historic event at a big Airlift celebration for the whole family and the entire city”, Mayor Müller told reporters.
“The celebration conveys the message that humaneness connects people”, Müller said, referring to the fact that the Americans and the other Allies who took part in the Airlift saved the residents of West Berlin after the Soviet Union had blocked all land and water connections to the city.
In 1949, the Allies helped West Berlin by flying food and other items to Berlin, using Tempelhof Airport, while decades later, in 2015 and to a certain extent even today, Tempelhof Airport was and is being used to accommodate refugees from countries like Syria and Afghanistan. Several asylum-seeking families still live in a container village right on the airfield. That way, Tempelhof Airport is connected to humanitarian help yet again.
Müller repeated his invitation “to all Berlin residents and guests from all over the world”. He thanked everyone who was part of the preparations of the Airlift event, for their dedication and creativity.
The Airlift Event will include an ‘Airlift Gate’ at the entrance to Tempelhof’s airfield. It is an adaptation of the Airlift statues located at airports in Western Germany, from where the so-called Raisin Bombers took off for Berlin during the Berlin Blockade.
An ‘Avenue of Allies’ will present American, British, French, Australian, Canadian Airlift participants and helpers from other nations who were part of it. At the event on May 12th, their humanitarian aid will be linked and compared to similar help, as it is being provided by numerous organizations today.
With sound and video installations, photos from back then and other means, guests will be introduced to the Airlift, meaning they will have the opportunity to experience some of it themselves. An exhibition will show the realities during and right after the Blockade and the Airlift.
What would a celebration of this kind be without music? Many acts, including the United States Air Force in Europe Band and the Federal Police Orchestra will perform along with The Band of the Royal Armoured Corps from Great Britain, the Qadasi & Maqhinga duet from South Africa and others.
A million Euro (1.12 million Dollars or 0.86 million Pounds Sterling) is the amount the celebration on May 12th will cost. Several companies and organizations have contributed funds, including the operating company ‘Tempelhof Projekt GmbH’, Care Germany, the German Television Lottery, the Lottery Foundation, Lufthansa, the airport operations company ‘Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH’ and ‘Wall GmbH’. Lufthansa, Germany’s flag carrying airline, was actually founded in Tempelhof in 1926.
In 1999, part of the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift was celebrated at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C., which does exhibit a former ‘Raisin Bomber’, just like Tempelhof Airport. Back then, Berlin’s former Governing Mayor Eberhard Diepgen thanked the United States for the Airlift, with a severe ‘th’ issue, but in a very convincing way.