A New Novel about a Brave Woman and America’s Selfless Heroes

Let’s be clear, without the help of the US in 1948/1949, Berlin may have been lost to the Soviets. Who knows, reunification may not have happened. But let me start at the beginning.

A Novel in the Making

Berlin sectors after WWII
Berlin’s four sectors

Since I write in English and German, I always search for subjects that may interest US-American and German readers. During a visit to the museum Haus der Geschichte in Bonn, which documents Germany’s history since 1945, I came across a presentation of the Berlin airlift, primarily orchestrated by the US and Britain, to save two million West Berliners from starvation. Upset about Germany’s new currency, the Deutsche Mark, and its clear interest in orienting its politics toward the western allies, Russia’s Stalin decided to cut off all street and rail supply lines to West Berlin. Not only that, he also cut off power and water, in hopes to kick out the three western allies (USA, Britain and France) and take over all of Berlin. Until that moment, all four allies governed Berlin, which had been divided into four sectors, together.

c47 planes in Tempelhof
C-47 Planes at Tempelhof Airport

Britain and the US immediately realised that handing Berlin to Stalin would be a mistake. After an impassioned speech by West Berlin’s unofficial mayor, Ernst Reuter, they agreed to supply West Berlin from the air, the only remaining pathway still remaining open. In a herculean effort, they began deploying planes to Berlin, carrying food and coal to the starving population.  Considering how little technology was available and how small cargo loads were at the time, they managed to transport 2.3 million tons of coal, food and construction materials. In May of 1949, after ten months of flying thousands of planes back and forth, Stalin signaled that he’d had enough. At 12:01 am on May 12, roads and rail reopened. Berlin’s supply situation had been saved.

A Fateful Meeting

Gail halverson pilot with parachutes
Gail Halverson preparing parachutes for his candy drops

In the summer of 2022, I attended a weeklong health fast. Sitting next to me at the group table was an older lady, Loni, who despite her advanced age was very lively. It turned out that she’d been born in Berlin and not only endured WWII in Berlin, she also witnessed the Berlin airlift as a fourteen-year old girl. She’d met Gail Halverson, the famous candy bomber also called Uncle Wiggly Wings, who’d shared two gum sticks with a bunch of German children, and thus kicked off a huge goodwill campaign, dropping chocolate and gum via small parachutes to Berlin’s kids. Loni not only graciously agreed to share her documents, she told me in several sessions about her memories.

Of course, I also researched books, images, reports, and listened to/read eyewitness reports about the end of the war in Berlin and the airlift.

In early 2023, I was ready to begin the manuscript and though, my writing was slower than usual, I am happy to report that the novel will be published in October 2023.

Berlin, Summer 1945

In the summer of 1945, Berlin equalled armageddon. As Germany’s capital and Hitler’s headquarter, Berlin had been embattled for years, though most of the damage was done in the last year. Take a look at the original footage in 1945. 

Watching the footage, it is hard to imagine how several million people could exist here. And yet, they did. And while some commented that Berlin should be left in its current condition and serve as a monument of Hitler’s terror reign, the people of Berlin, helped by allied forces from the west, slowly, very slowly pulled themselves out of the rubble.

c54 plane landing in tempelhof airportHow slow this process was becomes clear when we skip to 1948. It seems hardly anything has been fixed, how could it, and most people are merely surviving on hunger rations. Yet, again, Berlin persists, even when Stalin closes its borders and forces the western allies into action.

The airlift is one of the most impressive rescues ever performed. I hope we’ll keep its memory alive for a long time to come.

When the Skies Rained Freedom

book cover Berlin airliftAs with THE SCENT OF A STORM, my new historical novel, WHEN THE SKIES RAINED FREEDOM, tells the story of a young German woman’s journey, on two time lines. We begin in 1948, then slip back to 1945, and finish again in 1948/1949. As always, my protagonist experiences much emotional turmoil, heartbreak, a lot of ups and downs, and in the end a happy ending.

Here is a little intro:

Captivating, gripping and relentlessly authentic…inspired by eyewitness accounts.

To this day, the Berlin airlift presents one of the most dramatic and daring historic events of post WWII Germany, pinning east against west, and cementing the Cold War against Soviet Russia. Without the help of America’s brave pilots, two million Berliners would’ve been lost to Stalin’s dictatorial regime, the future of Europe may have turned out entirely different.

Berlin, May 1945: As the war finally ends, Lotte Berger’s apartment lies in rubble, her mother suffers a breakdown after an assault by Russian soldiers, and both, Lotte’s father and fiancé are missing in Russia. Only when Mitch Cameron, an American pilot, comes to her aid after an accident, does she regain hope. Just as they are growing closer, Lotte’s fiancé reappears under suspicious circumstances…

Berlin, June 1948: Lotte has fought her way through the aftermath of WWII and a devastating loss, when Russia’s dictator, Josef Stalin, decides to take over West Berlin. By cutting off supply lines, electricity and travel, he is willing to starve two million Berliners and force the U.S., Britain and France out. But the western allies, led by President Truman, decide to do the impossible: support Berlin from the air. Thus begins a turbulent and seemingly futile attempt to rescue West Berlin. Willing to do her part, Lotte lands a job as a translator at the American-run Tempelhof Airport. Even if her love is long lost, she can at least dream about Mitch helping to free Berlin…