While mired in such conditions, Berlin emerged as a forward salient in the Western struggle against the Soviet Union.
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The year saw major shifts in occupation policy in Germany. On January 1, the United States and United Kingdom unified their respective zones and formed Bizonia , which caused tensions between East and West to escalate. In March, the breakdown of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers and the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine served to harden the lines of an increasingly bipolar international order.
The Berlin Airlift: The Partitioning of Berlin
In March, when the Soviets discovered these designs, they withdrew from the Allied Control Council, which had met regularly since the end of the war in order to coordinate occupation policy between zones. In June, without informing the Soviets, U. Soviet authorities responded with similar moves in their zone. Besides issuing their own currency, the Ostmark, the Soviets blocked all major road, rail, and canal links to West Berlin, thus starving it of electricity, as well as a steady supply of essential food and coal.
The United States and United Kingdom had few immediate options if hostilities broke out.
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Because of the draw down in U. On June 13, , the administrator of U.
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We are convinced that our remaining in Berlin is essential to our prestige in Germany and in Europe. Whether for good or bad, it has become a symbol of the American intent.
Based upon written agreements with the Soviet Union in , the only connections to Berlin left to the Western Allies were air corridors from West Germany used to supply Berlin by air. The administration calculated that if the Soviets opposed the airlift with force, it would be an act of aggression against an unarmed humanitarian mission and the violation of an explicit agreement. Thus, the onus of igniting a conflict between the former allies would be on the aggressor. The beginning of the airlift proved difficult and Western diplomats asked the Soviets to seek a diplomatic solution to the impasse.
Fearing that the Western Allies might halt the airlift and cede West Berlin to the Soviets, , West Berliners gathered at the Reichstag to show their opposition to Soviet domination. The turnout convinced the West to keep the airlift and the Deutschmark. In time, the airlift became ever more efficient and the number of aircraft increased. At the height of the campaign, one plane landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport.
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By spring , the Berlin Airlift proved successful. It was inactivated on October 1, For almost two years, the d participated in tactical exercises in operations, training troop-carrier aircrews using C Commandos for assignment to the Far East, and worked closely with other troop-carrier groups to test and evaluate new troop-carrier doctrine and procedures. With the nearing end of the Korean War, the d was inactivated on January 8, The d became the primary USAF wing charged with training air and ground crews of C Globemaster II and the new C Starlifter heavy transports, while simultaneously maintaining a capability to perform airlift operations worldwide.
With the retirement of the prop-driven C Globemaster II from active service, training diminished in and ceased in , being replaced by training air and ground crews on the new C-5 Galaxy , a very heavy-lift transport, in The wing performed this training mission until when C-5 and C training was consolidated after the end of the Cold War.
Air Mobility Command reorganized Air Force Airlift units in , and the d was inactivated on October 1, , as part of the Air Force Heritage program, where notable units were retained and reassigned after the Cold War. The new 97th Air Mobility Wing , a former Eighth Air Force World War II bombardment group, and later Strategic Air Command bomb wing, absorbed the personnel, equipment and aircraft of the d upon its inactivation in an administrative transfer.
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