“A unique parallel between a young girl’s life in an uncompromising family and the tensions mounting on both sides of the Berlin Wall as she finds a way to freedom. A remarkable journey.”

—Zohreh Ghahremani, Author of Sky of Red Poppies

Walled-In

In her memoir, Walled-In, J. Elke Ertle shares what it was like to grow up in West Berlin, Germany, during the aftermath of World War II, a time when the city was divided into American, British, French, and Soviet occupation sectors. Initially, forty percent of all structures in the city were destroyed. There was little food or shelter. Many died, but Elke’s family survives.

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About the author, J. Elke Ertle

J. Elke Ertle was born and raised in West Berlin following World War II, a time when the city was the focus of an escalating Cold War between East and West. During the first twenty-one years of her life, she lived with her mother and father in the British sector of the city and was known by her first name, Jutta.

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Living History with J. Elke Ertle on YouTube

J. Elke Ertle shared her eye witness recollections of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin visit in a conversation with Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator, Sixth Floor Museum at Daley Plaza, Dallas Texas. The Museum’s Living History Series recognizes Kennedy’s life, assassination and legacy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lCh0uFDtm4

J. Elke Ertle read from her book, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” It is the story of how she learned English, entitled, “English according to Herr Kraschinkski.”

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIG8iroo4_mio5N8XFdwuyg

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Make peace with your past

05/05/2016   |   No Comments »

Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.

–Anonymous

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Berlin Airlift – unprecedented feat

02/05/2016   |   No Comments »

In response to the Berlin Blockade http://walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-blockade-and-the-cold-war/the Western Allies (United States, Great Britain and France) organized the Berlin Airlift. The miles flown to supply Berlin from the air between 24 June 1948 and 12 May 1949 equaled almost the distance between the earth and the sun.

Berlin Airlift Memorial at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport. The inscription at its base reads "They gave their lives for the freedom of Berlin in service of the Berlin Airlift 1948/49", photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Berlin Airlift Memorial at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. The inscription at its base reads “They gave their lives for the freedom of Berlin in service of the Berlin Airlift 1948/49”, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

The Berlin Blockade meant eminent starvation

When the Soviets severed all land and water connections between West Germany and West Berlin in June 1948, there were only 35 days worth of food and 45 days worth of coal left in the city. The power generated provided only 2.5 hours worth of electricity during a 24-hour period. Starvation loomed. Convinced that the United States, Great Britain and France had little choice but to surrender West Berlin, the Soviet military administration celebrated. But their bash was premature.

To try or not to try the Berlin Airlift?

The Soviet Blockade had convinced the three Western Allies that remaining in Berlin was essential to stemming the spread of Communism. Since all surface routes to West Berlin were blockaded, the only alternative was to supply West Berlin by air. There were three previously negotiated air corridors. But the task was enormous. Never before had a population this large (2 million) been supplied from the air. Estimates indicated that about 4,000 to 5,000 tons per day would have to be airlifted to supply the city. And those were summer figures when there was no need for heat. During the winter months the total tonnage required to be airlifted would be closer to 6,000 tons per day. Nonetheless, the American and British military agreed to try a joint operation. The U.S. part of the operation was named Operation Vittles; the British one was dubbed Operation Plainfare. In September 1948, the Australian military joined with Operation Pelican.

The Berlin Airlift begins

On 25 June 1948, only one day after the start of the Berlin Blockade, the American military commander, General Lucius D. Clay, gave the order to launch Operation Vittles. http://walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/lucius-d-clay-berlins-defender-of-freedom/ The next day, 32 planes hauled 80 tons of milk, flour and medicine to West Berlin. The first British aircraft flew on 28 June. During the first week, the airlift averaged only ninety tons a day, but by the second week it reached 1000 tons. Then Major General William H. Tunner was put in charge of the operation. He quickly doubled the tonnage and hours flown. Supply planes eventually flew in five altitudes, starting at 500 feet. Every three minutes a plane landed in West Berlin. He replaced the unloading crews unloading almost entirely with local people.

Typical aircraft flown during the Berlin Airlift, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Typical aircraft flown during the Berlin Airlift, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

The Berlin Airlift ends

Although the Berlin Blockade ended on 12 May 1949, the Berlin Airlift continued until 30 September. The Western Allies stocked up on food, fuel, and other supplies, just in case the Soviets might resume the blockade. Between June 1948 and September 1949, the Berlin Airlift delivered more than 2.3 million tons of cargo on over 275,000 flights. Nearly two-thirds of the cargo was coal. Pilots came from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

 

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