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Berlin Airlift television documentary archive

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA Berlin Airlift
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Berlin Airlift television documentary archive
Date(s): 1997 - 1998
Level of description: collection level
Extent: 3 boxes or 0.03 cubic metres
Name of creator(s): 3BM Television
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The documentary was produced by 3BM for Channel 4, Oregon Public Broadcasting, RTL and ITEL. 3BM is an independent television production company founded in October 1995 by Jeremy Bennett, Simon Berthon, Marion Milne and Malcolm Brinkworth. It has offices in London and Bath and specialises in production of documentaries in the historical, current affairs and popular science and human interest fields.
The Berlin Airlift was produced by Jeremy Bennett and directed by Marion Milne. Other members of the production team included Professor Avi Shlaim, Historical Consultant; Tamzin Fry, Production Manager; Rosalind Bentley, Film Research; Helen Seaman, Research; and David Spiers, Editor.


Scope and content/abstract:

Transcripts of 45 interviews recorded for The Berlin Airlift, a television documentary produced by 3BM Television for Channel 4's Secret History series and broadcast on 29 June 1998. Those interviewed include individuals and or relatives of individuals connected with the airlift operation which took place in response to the Berlin blockade, 24 June 1948 - October 1949, notably members of the armed forces of UK and USA including the RAF, RN and WAAF, a representative of the Foreign Office, journalists and authors, German interpreters, German civilians and children, members of Soviet administration and relatives of servicemen.
Attention is given to direct roles and experience of the airlift but also seeks views of its historical significance to them personally and to the wider world. Topics covered in the interviews relate to causes of the blockade, Stalin's aims for Germany after 1945, the potential threat of war in 1948, British and US responses to the blockade, Soviet intelligence gathering and espionage in the UK Foreign Office, attitudes of British servicemen to American servicemen in Germany and vice versa, German experience of the Soviet conquest of Berlin in 1945 and ensuing occupation, living conditions at the air bases in West Germany and in Berlin, food and fuel shortages, rationing, operation of the black market, prostitution, relations between conquered and occupying forces, 'no fraternisation' rule, the logistics of the airlift operation - aircraft maintenance, loading and unloading of supplies, Soviet harassment, experience of pilots and crew, incidents such as air crashes, evacuation of Berliners including children, and Operation Little Vittles. The role of significant individuals such as Ernest Bevin (1884-1951), British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the time, and Gen. Lucius D. Clay (1897-1978), Military Governor of Germany 1947 - 1949, are also discussed.
Notable participants include Sir Frank Kenyon Roberts (1907-1998) diplomat and Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during 1948 - 1949, Mrs Jessamy Waite, widow of Air Cdre Reginald Newnham Waite (1901-1975), who devised and organised the airlift operation, and Col Gail S Halverson who became known as the 'Candy Bomber' for his drops of packages of candy attached to miniature parachutes to the children of Berlin.
Transcripts include questions and answers, and the tape counter numbering has been logged. The interviewer is not identified. Where interviews were translated this has been noted. Some names, places or phrases have been guessed at, or spelled phonetically by the transcriber. No information is given about the date or identity of the transcriber.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

There is no identifiable order of the interviews, hence the transcripts have been maintained in the order received.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Director of Archive Services.

Finding aids:

Summary guide entry on-line and due to be published in hard copy. Detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the College Archives reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Centre by Jeremy Bennett, 3BM Television, 13 May 1999.

Allied Materials

Related material:

King's College London Liddell Hart Centre for MilHCMA holds microfilm copies of the papers of Air Cdre Reginald Newnham Waite (1901-1975).

Cambridge University: Churchill Archives Centre holds correspondence and papers of Sir Frank Kenyon Roberts (1907-1998) diplomat.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Alison Field

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
July 2001

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