National Geographic : 1970 Jan
Skat amuses pensioners at a park in Moabit, an indus trial district. They receive a minimum pension of $100 a month. More than 20 percent of Berlin's inhabitants, in East or West, have passed 65 years of age. Though East Germany will not permit pensioners to move from the West through the Wall, it allows its own elder citizens to visit relatives in the West. that reported to the highest governing body, the Allied Control Council. That ended in 1948, when the Russians blockaded Berlin. The guns of war had hardly been stilled when Winston Churchill, in his famous speech at Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, announced that the Iron Curtain had de scended in Europe. It lowered for Berliners on June 24, 1948. On that day the Soviets, in an attempt to force the Allies out, cut all land and water routes between Berlin and West Germany. The Western response was the Berlin airlift. Between June 26, 1948, and September 30, 1949, American, Brit ish, and French planes made 277,728 flights into the blockaded city. At the peak, cargo craft were landing in West Berlin at the rate of one every 45 seconds. After they had brought in more than two million tons of food and supplies, the blockade was ended.* The following (Continued on page 43) *See "Airlift to Berlin," a picture story, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, May 1949. 38 Sailing the Grosser Wannsee, sloops taste the open spaces of the Havel River, a favored retreat in West Berlin. Nearby lies Wann see, the largest inland bathing beach in Europe. West Berliners treasure their miles of forested parks, since holi days outside the city mean board ing a crowded plane or train, or a drive through East Germany and the risk of frustrating delays at its borders. At the church on time, top hatted West Berliner Walter Dressier waits to drive a bridal couple to a reception. Besides the required civil ceremony, many couples cling to older traditions: a Polterabend (when friends smash old pottery at the bride's door for good luck), a church service, and a ride in an elegant white carriage.