1945 – 2005
Sixty years have passed since the end of World War II. A new generation has grown up and the sufferings of the war and its aftermath are only the subjects of action movies. Nevertheless, the world as we know it today was born in those days, in the middle of controversy.
In 1945, Europe was in ruins. Hunger, misery, and economic disaster ravaged the continent. Based on human desperation, Communism progressed. Tyranny and dictatorship changed color from Nazi black to Soviet red. The Americans understood the necessity to put in place a vast economic recovery program. The American taxpayers spent $16.5 Billion, representing 70 Billion of today’s dollars, in economic revival of Western European countries, to stop Soviet expansionism. Without the Americans, the map of Europe would be different today.
The crisis and conflict arrived only three years after the end of World War II. In June 1948, the Soviet Army blocked West Berlin, essentially taking hostage two and half million inhabitants. They were certain the allied powers would abandon the city, opening the road for the Soviet Union to exploit Germany and all of Europe. For almost a year, the planes of the U.S. Air Force and the British RAF, like an army of majestic eagles, kept blockaded Berlin alive through the air. Every minute, a plane landed in Berlin transporting fuel, milk, coal, potatoes, instruments, wine, asphalt, pickup trucks, clothes, and all supplies necessary for the survival of the city.
The Americans arrived in Berlin as enemies in 1945. Three years later, they became friends and allies, the guardian of the freedom and the hope of two and half million Berliners. In face of the allies’ tenacity and determination, the Soviets lifted the blockade in May 1949. In the heart of the Soviet sphere, an island of democracy and freedom, West Berlin, remained unvanquished.
It remained bright and appealing until the day when the fundamental principle of mankind could spread out to an entire region. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the Communist dictatorship collapsed. Without the heroism of American and British pilots and airmen, without the determination of two and half million Berliners forty years earlier, that day would never have come about.
In the frame of the thrilling love story between John Carpenter, American pilot and Esther Kohlberg, survivor of the death camp Treblinka, we follow the events of the Airlift and the everyday life of the Berliners with the exactitude of a documentary. My objective was to bring this period to the ordinary people on the street in the form of a fiction novel more readable and accessible to people than a political analysis.
Today, we face another, even more terrible enemy — terrorism. We have to draw an example from the lessons of the past. In the aftermath of World War II, the Allied Powers were able to create a strong unity. In December 1948, West Berliners without democratic experience, torn between monarchy and dictatorship, were able to choose democracy in free elections. I write these words on January 30, 2005. Today, the people of Iraq also choose democracy. Once again, a country of tribal rivalries and dark terror for decades engaged itself to democratic transformation in spite of bloody terror.
History shows us that wherever the Americans have arrived, democracy, freedom, civil rights and progress flourished in their footsteps. These are the basic principles of mankind! I hope this book will help to create a new alliance by highlighting our common values.