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On 24 June 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all ground traffic to and from West Berlin. The Western allies were angered, especially the US. President Truman took two days to consider alternatives—which most feared could include war.

On 26 June we began a massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to show our technological superiority. On 12 May 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.

And on 26 June 1963, President Kennedy visited West Berlin, where he made his famous declaration: “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). There were reports that he said he was a jelly donut in his German phrase; it’s all a matter of pronunciation; the favorite snack in that city is a jelly donut pronounced bear-lean-er. I suspect that he pronounced the word properly.

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