The US veterans were to fly from Frankfurt Airport to Tempelhof Airport in the Air Service Berlin’s historic “Raisin Bomber” in order to join their British and French comrades for the press conference. At Frankfurt Airport there is a copy of the Berlin Airlift memorial where a commemoration had taken place that morning. However, the “Raisin Bomber” fell through and the US Air Forces in Europe provided a replacement aircraft in no time at all. Surprising? Not so. In the end, two very prominent representatives of the US Air Force wanted to partake personally in the Berlin festivities. They were General Arthur J. Lichte, US Air Force Commander of the Air Mobility Command, and General Roger A. Brady, Commander of the US Air Forces in Europe.
Following the press conference it was off to the museum for the opening of the special exhibition where every last spot on the grounds was occupied. “Check Six”, the band of the US Air Forces in Europe, put the audience in the right mood with swing-era songs from the forties. The main speakers for the evening were Edzard Reuter, an honorary citizen of Berlin and the son of the legendary Berlin mayor Ernst Reuter, and General Lichte. The US veterans were represented by Lewis Dale Whipple, Vice President of the Berlin Airlift Veterans Association, the British by Air Vice-Marshall George C. Lamb, and finally the French by Georges Drouault. Overall, it was a beautiful and harmonious evening that all who took part will long remember.
“The Berlin blockade and airlift offer much food for thought. Their stories should be known to us all, both young and old alike. Former Federal President Richard von Wiezsäcker was wise to remember the old saying: If we don’t know where we came from, we don’t know who we are.
Without the success of the airlift, there would be neither a unified Berlin nor a united Germany and the development on the entire European continent would not today be determined by the fundamental values of freedom and democracy. But this success did not come without a price. The human and material efforts were immense. We have gathered together today to recognize the achievement by the people of the US, Great Britain and France, not mention those from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. For this reason we are also joined here today by the veterans. The names on the base of the Airlift Memorial remind us that several of the soldiers paid for this mission with their lives. Let us prove ourselves as worthy beneficiaries of this highest of missions.”
Dr. Helmut Trotnow OBE
“The images in this exhibition recall the irresistible power that can emerge from the ideas of freedom, human dignity, democracy and solidarity if they are worn with courage and preparedness, to unconditionally defend those who are thirsting for them.
And precisely for this reason I am firmly convinced that my fellow German countrymen here in Berlin, and all over our fatherland as well, will bow together with me in everlasting gratitude…
These friends (from the United States, from Great Britain, and from France) did not act in the interest of their own nations, they acted in selfless aid of the Germans, fellow humans beings threatened by brutal oppression.”
„As we departed Frankfurt ... I was struck by the profound emotion of hope. Hope then not only for the Berliners trying to survive the repression of the Soviet Union, but as a pilot, I also felt the hope of the Allied airmen wanting to complete their mission, to save individuals, families, villages, the City of Berlin and the whole of the German people …
That fortress of hope was built not only by the Allied Airlift, because nearly every pound of cargo moved ‘part of the way on a man’s back’ – the backs of Germans …
This will to succeed endured then and now, humanitarian airlift is the “outstretched hand of hope”.
General Arthur J. Lichte