The First Battle in the Cold War

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Rolf Bergmann


astfilm productions | for RBB

The sky over Berlin - day and night the roar of the engines can be heard , every three minutes a "Raisin-Bomber" is flying over the roofs. For 462 days, between June 1948 and October 1949, the U.S. Air Force staged the biggest humanitarian mission in history, food and coal for more than two million people. With a total of 277.246 flights, the unthinkable was achieved, a steady transport of needed supplies for many months that guarantees the survival of the people in West-Berlin.

June 23rd 1948. During the night the soviets seal off all roads to West-Berlin. They also cut off all electrical supply to the city. Now it becomes obvious, how very vulnerable the city was. The Soviets want all western Allied-Forces out of Berlin, also to use the Uranium from the Ore mountains undetected for their Atomic Bomb.

Stalin's political power game leads to the first "dangerous dispute" between the former Allies on German territory and Berlin became the front-line-city of the Cold War. Looking back, things were not as clear as the obvious outcome, the triumph of the West over the soviet blockade. In time, the "Operation Airlift" became a myth.

The documentary recalls in detail the events that took place, the fate of the people, the fears and hopes of millions, the daring job of the pilots, and the manipulative game the Soviets played. U.S. Pilot Gail Halverson, one the "Angels of the Sky", on every mission he and his comrades risked their life. Halverson constantly filmed with his 8mm film-camera. Rare color film-footage showing mostly everything, on and off duty.

"Operation Airlift" is not a tribute to the heroes. The film tells the story of a whole city being taken hostage and the reactions to it. It remembers one of the most dramatic chapters in a time full of tensions. It is the story of the first battle in the Cold War.