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American Experience; Berlin Airlift, The


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American Experience
Berlin Airlift, The
Program Number


Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

On June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union blocked railroad and street access to West Berlin, starving the population and choking commerce. Allied forces refused to cede the city, and for nearly a year, succeeded in doing what even the best military minds considered impossible - supply two million civilians and 20,000 allied soldiers entirely from the air. Operating on a strict plan masterminded by U.S. General William Turner, allied forces landed planes every three minutes and delivered more than 4,500 tons of supplies each day. Former German soldiers built airfields and repaired engines for the enemies they had been shooting out of the sky just three years before. American and British pilots, so recently delivering death, were now angels of mercy, supplying coal, flour, coffee and chocolate to the beleaguered city. Through the personal stories of those who were there, this program provides a striking look at the first battle of the Cold War and the largest humanitarian campaign the world had ever seen.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Berlin Airlift, The,” 01/02/2007, GBH Archives, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “American Experience; Berlin Airlift, The.” 01/02/2007. GBH Archives. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: American Experience; Berlin Airlift, The. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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