Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Thursday, May 14, 1998 Published at 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK



World: Europe

Clinton joins airlift veterans
image: [ The Spirit of Berlin, the plane renamed by President Clinton ]
The Spirit of Berlin, the plane renamed by President Clinton

On the final day of his visit to Germany, Bill Clinton has attended a ceremony at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport to mark the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.


BBC News' Peter Van Velsen on the morning's events in Berlin
The airlift saw hundreds of flights come into the city every day in an attempt to beat a Soviet blockade of West Berlin at the height of tension between the east and west.


[ image: The leaders both paid tribute to their nations' relationship]
The leaders both paid tribute to their nations' relationship
The US president joined several hundred airlift veterans for a rousing set of celebrations at the airport, which served as the main operating base for the US Air Force as they ferried supplies into West Berlin.

The president said that Berliners described the sound of the planes flying overhead as "a symphony of freedom".

Mr Clinton said: "The most precious cargo did not come in the well-named care packages, it was the hope created by the constant roar of the planes overhead."

Survival link

In a toast on Wednesday evening at a state dinner in his honour, Mr Clinton called the June 1948-September 1949 airlift "the bridge we built together almost 50 years ago."

The western allies made more than 277,000 flights, delivering more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and medicine to Berlin.

At the peak of the airlift, aircraft were taking off and landing about every minute.

On May 12, 1949, the Soviets ended the blockade.

In remarks introducing Mr Clinton, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl expressed his country's thanks.

"This city owes its survival and freedom during the Cold War to the firm resolve of the United States and our other western allies," Chancellor Kohl said.

President hails heroes


[ image: The original candyman, Gail Halvorsen]
The original candyman, Gail Halvorsen
Recalling the 38 Britons and 31 Americans who lost their lives in the airlift, Mr Clinton singled out the heroes who came to be known as the "candy bombers".

Gail Halvorsen, an Air Force 1st lieutenant, began the practice of dropping sweets with handkerchief parachutes to the German children watching the landings at Tempelhof.
 





Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

©

Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

13 May 98 | World
President Clinton praises Chancellor Kohl

13 May 98 | World
Clinton to honour 'candy bombers'

12 May 98 | Special Report
Blocked but not beaten, the airlift begins

 
  Internet Links

Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation

The G8 Summit in Birmingham


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
 
In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift





Europe Contents

Country profiles