Ohhh, I'm cold...and hungry,....tired. Can't even go anywhere. Stuck in this icy house with the Red soldiers at every turn. I think back again to why they are there. I don't understand it well. I am not allowed to read, but from what I hear, they are here because the Allies want to unify the zones they hold here in Germany. So the Red Soviets want to take back their control of us. Just a bit ago the Reds enforced their will with a heavy blockade at every enterance to our side of Berlin. Roads, railways, waterways, the whole nine yards. So far nothing has been able to get in. They've kept us hungry for the food they hold back, cold for lack of fuel. All supplies blocked.
Those *#!@* men! I am young, but I have learned many new words and their meanings in these past days! I do not understand the motivations behind our leaders' actions, but I do know that we will not give in, to the point that if the Reds ever get West Berlin it will be because we are all dead, starved past submission. Or perhaps we shall all go mad, and eat the Red soldiers standing on the outskirts of our city....
"Rolf?" I ask my brother if he is awake still, as I am.
"I am speaking to you even now, Sabine. Is it not apparent that I am awake?" Rolf grumbles, and turns over to scoot closer to the heap of our family's sleeping forms for warmth.
"Rolf, if I die, and you live, will you take care of Snowy?" I ask, anxious for my small cat's well-being. She is my closest friend, and I do not wish her to suffer as much as we do now.
"Sabine, you will not die. You will take care of Snowy, and love her as much as she loves you. Do not worry for her sake..." Rolf trails off, unsaid words worry for ours linger in the cold air. His gruff manner is betrayed by his soft comforting words to me. I snuggle closer to him, and soon fall asleep once more.
Now it is morning, but the sun's rising brings no real warmth. There is nothing we can do, so most of the family stays huddled in the corner while the youngest begin to whimper and cry for what we cannot give them: a full stomach. What food we do have is rationed out to the sick and very young. The small children soon realize that they have received all they will get, and begin to wander outside in search of something to play with. This horrid routine goes on for days. One morning of June 1948 is different, however, and marks the beginning of the end.
Rolf and I are sitting outside under the overhanging roof, speaking softly of life in general. He is more wise than I am, and I enjoy hearing what he has to say on any subject he wishes to talk about.
Suddenly, we hear a faint sound from above and look up. As the sound grows closer, I can see that it is an Allied bomber airplane! Screams are heard all around the neighborhood. Men grab rifles. Women grab children and haul them inside. Rolf and I stand outside still, staring at the airplanes.
"They aren't attacking us! They're dropping packages of... of..... well, something not dangerous, anyway," Rolf concludes sheepishly. He begins to run in the direction of the falling boxes, and many follow him; some jogging along simply for the interest, some racing ahead with the enthusiasm of one pent up for days. As we arrive at the site, men are already tearing into
the boxes with knives and bare hands.
"Food!!" one man yells excitedly.
And another: "Fuel!" Calls go back, proclaiming the contents of the boxes to those still running up. Rolf grabs a can of beans and shrieks happily. He whirls in place a few times and takes off for home, still gripping the can in tight hands. I laugh almost hysterically, and, following suit, pull a can of kerosene from the rapidly growing pile on the ground. I clutch it to my chest and run after Rolf.
The crisp air rushes into my face as I run, pulling at my hair and scant clothes. The thrill of simply running catches my body unaware, and I begin to gasp with the exertion.Somehow, I get home intact, seconds after Rolf arrives. He is already babbling the news, almost incoherent. I add my attempts at explination to the chaos, turning an already confusing report into pure gibberish.
"ENOUGH!" our father roars, and silence reigns. "One by one. Rolf, speak plainly. What is happening?"
Rolf takes a deep breath to calm himself.
"The Allied bombers were not the enemy. They were dropping supplies, not bombs!" I giggle uncontrolably, and squirm where I stand.
Another roar is heard overhead as yet another airplane careens past, dropping it's precious load. More shouts of happiness are resounding through the streets.
Incredibly, this keeps up at a rate of an airplane landing or taking off every few minutes for long periods of time. Even though the nearly constant roar of approaching and departing airplanes is deafening, they are what keeps us alive for the next eleven months. The food is still scarce, and must be carefully distributed, but it is food; sustenence.
It is now an early, bright, morning of September 1949. The Berlin Airlift, as we now call it, seems as if it is beginning to wind down and the Soviets seem likely to pull out at any day.
Under the shadows of ravaged buildings standing next to the new ones, my brother and I are lying, content to be in the warm sun with full bellies. I stretch out and rest my head on Rolf's stomach.
"Why?" I ask, without pretext or introduction.
"What?" Rolf's stomach bounces with the word, and my head along with it.
"Why would the Allies help us for so long? It can't have been without cost to them. I think they did it to get a political foothold here. I'm glad they got it, aren't you?"
"It depends. I am glad they helped us, for whatever reasons they had. Most likely, you're right -- they did it due to their eternal political manuevering. If so, I don't really care right now if they succeeded in their mission, so long as it doesn't involve us personally. Of course, I will have to care, and sooner than I'd like, but as long as I can enjoy life, I'd prefer to keep it as simple as I can." Silence echos as he finishes. I lie expectantly quiet, knowing he might continue. I am right.
"I like to think that the Allies helped us "out of the goodness of their hearts", however unlikely that may be. Actually, people are considerably better than I am inclined to think. Focus tends to stay on the bad things people do, and ignore the good. So it seems that humanity in
general is pretty bad-natured, greedy, and selfish. This Airlift shows real compassion. Hopefully."
"Hopefully?" I repeat, reiterating it as a question. I turn to face Rolf. He turns to me, and I can hear the absence of hope edging into his voice.
"Maybe it's just military manuevering. I don't know. It's hard to tell what's in a person's heart, especially when you don't really know them." I sigh my agreement. Silence falls, and is broken, this time by me.
"At least it did help. It kept all of West Berlin alive and functioning for eleven months. That's pretty amazing in and of itself. It's probably going to make the Reds pull out for good. No matter why the Allies did it, it still happened, and I'm grateful for that." This time Rolf grunts his agreement. We both roll flat on our backs and wave at the passing Allied bomber airplanes from the Berlin Airlift.