BERLIN AIRLIFT 16mm HOME MOVIES 1949 Trip to BERLIN WEST GERMANY 44734 #Germany #travel





This fascinating, silent 16mm home movie — shot by an unknown American who was almost certainly a military officer — shows a trip to Europe in 1949 and includes stunning footage of the end of the Berlin Air LIft. At 7:22, you will see dignitaries gather as a C-54 airplane with the “Last Vittles Flight” leaves Rhein Main Air Base, Frankfurt, Germany headed to Berlin Tempelhof Airport. At 1845 hours on September 30, 1949, sister C-54 planes of the airlift flew overhead in formation, marking the end of a dramatic chapter in Cold War history. As the painting on the aircraft shows, “1,783,572.7 tons to Berlin.” (Note: the final RAF airlift flight was on 5 September 1949.) The pilot of the “Last Vittles” was Perry Immel, flying his 403rd mission, and the 276,926th mission overall.

The film begins with the person who shot it in transit, landing at the 18 second mark at Harmon Field in Newfoundland. The net shots at :28 are in London and show the Thames, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and there’s also a spot of tea served at the 2:35 mark. At 3:22 you’ll see downtown London including Big Ben and the House of Parliament. At 3:38, an important personage possibly the Queen, is seen in a black car as photographers shoot pictures. At 4:27 the Savoy Hotel is seen along with London traffic — cabs and double decker buses. At 4:47, a military flight crew is seen on the tarmac before the film (at 5:00) transitions to Paris. You’ll see Notre Dame Cathedral, cafes at 6:10, the Louvre entrance at 6:20, plus the Museum itself, the Seine at 6:30, newsstands at 6:40, and Paris Orly Airport at 6:55, with some Gendarmes out front.

At 7:00, Operation Vittles and the C-54 “Last Vittles Flight” is loaded at Rhein Mein, while a band plays. A large group of military officers is seen on the tarmac in front of the plane and remarks are made. (We’d love some ID on these men!) At 9:05 aircraft fly in formation as the last C-54 to Berlin takes off. It’s unclear but it looks like the shooter got to travel aboard the aircraft to Berlin. At 9:40 a military officer is shown, and then the film shows block after horrific block of destruction in Berlin. At 11:00, you will see the burned out Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, as well as a Soviet war monument under construction. The film predates the construction of the Berlin Wall so you will see traffic passing through the Gate.

At 13:30, you will see three boys posing in front of a “You are Leaving the American Sector” sign. There is very little traffic in this area but at 13:55 you will see a Berlin tram whisk past.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit

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6 Comments

  1. it was partly racism. Lots of American govt food were approved and ready to be shipped to japan and China in the years preceding Berlin blockade for newly nuked cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Some racist American civil servants and govt officials did not want to feed people of Asian national origin in these cities. They would rather send the food to people of European national origin. Some American officials would rather send the food earmarked for Asia and Africa, and send these to Germany. The Soviets had already been feeding Berliners to 3 years. They already arranged for additional distribution of food by East German new civil servants and Soviet soldiers and East German policemen and East German soldier and others to distribute food or to report any hidden families who may be hiding in basements . President Truman had a soft corner for these two cities in Japan, and had the food ready for japan. So, govt officials decided to find a high ranking government official with the same last name ass an American war time general, to spearhead the diverting of food stock of America earlier earmarked for Japan, and to send these to Germany. Many Germans are saying now, "Had I known that some American officials were diverting food crates and food packets from being sent to nuked Japan to send these to Berlin, we would have turned down the offer back in 1948 or so. We Germans weren't that hungry, as soviets were already feeding us. In fact, we Germans in 1948 would have arrested these racist american pilots coming to supplement the food offered to us by the Soviets. "

  2. Some historical documentary of the Berlin blockade in black& white that I had seen in the Boston area in about 1987 either in the history channel or National geographic or a similar channel in the late 1980's clarified that : 1) The Soviets were Distributing a Soviet new food stamps in order to alleviate hidden hunger to quickly distribute food among the the hungry residents of Berlin. The Russian leadership claimed that with this new food stamp program they introduce will win the hearts and minds of the Germans in Berlin. Western officials allowed in requested the Berliners to turn down the food stamps even if they go hungry, as Berliners may be possibly be brainwashed into thinking that communism is a good concept. 2) The soviets had introduced a new currency in East Germany including Berlin, so that local Berliners and East Germans get paid every time they do work for eight hours or four hours or whatever accordingly. Western officials living in the Soviet Zone were allowed into Berlin and East Germany, but they asked East Germans and Berliners to revolt and to burn those currencies., until the Soviets asked them to leave. Moscow asked the westerners to leave Berlin around 1948 or 1949 because of the above two reasons among other reasons. This explanation pacified the American officials and more importantly, the American president. When these westerners who were living in the Soviet Zone of Berlin finally left, these same western officials were the first to defend Moscow, saying they the food stamps program for hungry Berliners and the new Eat German Deutchmark currency program weren't necessarily bad for locals of Berlin, as Berliners will get aid if they work in a bakery or in the new East German olice fore and the like. War was never imminent. in post ww2 Berlin.

  3. A friend of mine, now deceased, was in a MASH Unit in the U.S. Army in West Germany, 1953-1956, and when he went on pass, he took Europe's most favorite area's such as Holland, France, Italy, etc., etc. But his most memorable was when he was allowed into East Germany, he snuck a camera in to take some photo's, he went the Brandenburg Gate, the Prison were many of the Nazi's were being held, he was lucky, as it was the British Army's turn to guard the prison. He had slides of it all, but unfortunately it was lost in a fire. Great video, too bad it did not have sound.

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