A Second Glimpse at West Berlin D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II


The lessons of the 1948 Berlin Blockade had been taken to heart by the West Berlin government, and many of the city’s citizens. In the event of another blockade or war, a massive airlift of food, and other essential supplies by the United States and her allies to relieve the city could not be assured. So Berliners did what Germans do better than just about anyone on the planet: Plan ahead and organize. In July, 1987 the city had enough food, medicine, and other emergency supplies on hand to sustain the population for ninety days. For all intents and purposes, these were West Berlin’s wartime stocks. Estimates predicted these supplies would sustain the city for six months. Realistically, the city’s government expected the emergency supplies and food to last for half that amount of time.

Each borough had its own designated stockpiles stored in a warehouse. Distribution locations were established and citizens were well-versed in the procedures should the need arise. Through the first week and a half of war, West Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen held off on tapping the wartime stocks. Many Berlin families already had their own cache of emergency food and water ready as a hedge against another blockade or worse. As the storm clouds approached in late June and early July, other Berliners started to purchase supplies, food, and water. The result was a well-prepared population. When hostilities started most families, and single people had a two-week supply on hand. It was not until D+10 that Diepgen ordered a very limited amount of food, and water to be made available to the small number of Berliners in need.

Even though the traditional weapons of war had yet to be used on West Berlin, the city found itself under a relentless, and different kind of assault for the duration of the conflict. This one took  the form of propaganda. Right from the start East German political organs, and the propaganda arm of the Stasi had a role to fulfill. Their goal was to weaken the resolve of the NATO troops, and West Berlin police. Powerful loudspeakers placed in close proximity to the wall, and other points around the city broadcast colorful diatribes telling the US, British, and French soldiers that it was ‘futile to sacrifice their lives in a hopeless struggle.’ Attempts were also made to manipulate and demoralize the civilian population. Radio messages and PA system announcements encouraged both passive, and active resistance to a prolonged defense of the city when GDR forces entered West Berlin. Agitators already on the ground and established in the western zones distributed pamphlets, and attempted to plant seeds of fear among the populace with rumor. Overall, the efforts had limited value. They were most effective in the early days of the war. However, as time went on, and it became apparent there would be no East German ‘liberation’ coming, the propaganda was regarded more as gallows humor than anything else.

Sabotage was another issue to contend with. A number of attacks were made by East German and Soviet operatives, as well as sympathetic leftist citizens, and agitators on the city’s infrastructure. Powerplants, and the water supply were the two favorite targets. None of the acts of sabotage, or the limited attacks on the water supply succeeded. West Berlin auxiliary police were largely responsible for guarding the infrastructure and performed admirably. But two bombs did go off at the powerplant located in the British sector, knocking out power for an extended period, and the workers at all electrical facilities had to contend with the occasional mortar round falling at random.

NATO forces in West Berlin were not idle. In the last days and hours of peace, as thousands of people retreated from the city, small groups of US Army Special Forces, and British Special Air Service troops were slipping into the city. Some of these highly trained men were part of the defensive plans for the city, there to prepare, and in some cases man the stay-behind teams. Other teams were there to use West Berlin as a staging area for their own operations across the GDR, and other parts of the Warsaw Pact.


Author’s Note: Ok, I decided on a third Berlin post instead of wrapping things up in this one. Simply because I want to get into detail a bit on the US Special Forces and British SAS activity. No sense overloading everything into a single blog post. It’ll be up on Friday. Until then, I hope everyone is having a tolerable week. 😊

6 Replies to “A Second Glimpse at West Berlin D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part II”

    1. Its urban camo for armored vehicles actually. The British used it for their Chieftains and all in Berlin back in the 80s. In fact I think it was exclusively used there.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I owe you Wayne. Thanks for your comment because it made me realize I posted the wrong pic 🙂 That was a modern pic. Posted a new one on the blog entry of the camo they used back then

      Liked by 1 person

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