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     The blockade was imposed, not suddenly, but gradually and in numerous ways. The time table of Russian interference with traffic between Berlin and the West during 1948/9 is as follows:


24th January 1948

Restrictions and conditions imposed on passenger traffic.


10th March 1948

Restrictions intensified and travel by Germans, even on Allied business rendered difficult or impossible.


28th March 1948

Russians ask the British and Americans to evacuate their two emergency aid stations on the Berlin to Helmstedt autobahn by the end of April.


30th March 1948

General Dratvin announced that no Goods could be transported into or out of Berlin without a Soviet licence. Allied freight was also subject to Soviet inspection.


31st March 1948

Russians set up a new checkpoint at Nowawes (Berlin) and detain Allied freight consignments. Nine British licensed canal barges are held at Buchhorst. Allied vehicles turned back at Marienborn.


1st April 1948

British and American military trains detained at Marienborn (adjacent to Helmstedt) because the Russians were not permitted to "inspect" them. Parcel mail from Berlin to the West refused unless accompanied by virtually unobtainable Soviet permits. USAF begins flying military stores into Berlin.

Soviet Yak fighters begin performing aerobatics in the air corridors into and out of Berlin. From April onwards Western-licensed barge skippers on the German-wide network are 'detained "Because their papers are not in order". Barge traffic is brought to a standstill.


3rd April 1948

Rail routes to Berlin-Hamburg and Berlin-Bavaria are closed leaving only the Berlin-Helmstedt line open. The British military freight-train service between the West and Berlin is barred by Soviet authorities unless each individual item of cargo has Russian clearance.


5th April 1948

A BEA airliner is buzzed on the outskirts of Berlin by a Soviet Yak fighter. Both planes crash, killing the Russian pilot, twelve Britons and two Americans. The Soviet Command denies responsibility and refuses to recognize evidence by all witnesses who are not Russian.


25th April 1948

New Soviet Rules for the documentation of Rail-freight.


4/6th June 1948

Twenty six rail wagons of Berlin mail for the West are seized by Russian officials.


10th June 1948

Five coal trains for West Berlin stopped by Soviet officials because their new-type documents were "not in order".


12th June 1948

All freight trains from  the West suspended until settlement of a dispute concerning the labelling of cars.


15th June 1948

All trains from the West forbidden to use termini in West Berlin. Road bridge over the River Elbe closed for "repairs". The only substitute is a barge ten miles away, propelled with a pole.


18th June 1948

Russians cancel all internal motor-coach licenses and suspend passenger trains, road and mail services to and from the west.


23rd June 1948

Further "technical difficulties" brought all rail traffic between Berlin and the West to an end. Traffic on inland waterways experienced similar treatment.


24th June 1948

All surface communication with Berlin stopped.


28th June 1948

Operation Knicker ordered. This was the plan for the supply of the British troops in Berlin by air. In practice a number of Dakota aircraft carried out sorties in advance of this date.


30th June 1948 

Operation re-named "Carter Paterson" and extended to include the supply of the whole of the Western Sector by air. The corresponding American operation was "Viftles".


19th July 1948 

Operation re-named "Plainfare"


4th August 1948

First official day of the Civil Airlift.


12th May 1949

The Berlin Blockade was lifted at 00.01 hours.


16th August 1949

End of the Civil Airlift.


6th October 1949

End of the Airlift.


Notable Statistics


Between the 25th of June 1948 and the 1st of August 1949, two million two hundred thousand occupants of West Berlin were supplied 2,223,000 short tons of supplies in 266.600 sorties.



18th February 1949

First million short tons delivered.

2nd July 1949 

Second million short tons delivered.

5th August 1949

Two and a quarter million tons delivered to Berlin.

Total Tonnage by Commodity:









Military Supplies






Wet Fuel






Total Combined Tonnage

2,325,809 short tons