The Berlin Candy Bombers

Children in Berlin await US aircraft dropping candy over the city during the Berlin Airlift in 1948
Children in Berlin await US aircraft dropping candy over the city during the Berlin Airlift in 1948

Historical Context

One of the first major crises of the nascent Cold War, the Berlin Blockade tested the resolve of the Western alliance to protect the small non-communist enclave of West Berlin.

When the Soviets blockaded the city in 1948, the Western alliance resolved to break the Soviet operation by airlifting in the supplies that the West Berliners needed.

Pilot Gail Halvorsen of the US Air Force noticed a crowd of children at Berlin airport when he dropped off supplies. When he handed out candy, he was so impressed by their gratitude that he promised to return with more candy. Thus began Operation Little Vittles. More than twenty tons of candy were dropped on Berlin, some of it sent by children all around the United States.

Eventually, the Soviets relented, realizing that the airlift had ended up supplying more than had initially come by rail and land before the blockade.

Photo Info


Photographer: Unknown
Location taken: West Berlin, West Germany

Source: Prussian Heritage Image Archive

Related Events

  • 1948-06-24 Soviet Union begins the West Berlin Blockade by stopping access by road, rail and water
  • 1948-07-17 US Air Force pilot Gail Halvorsen encounters children in at Templehof Airport in Berlin during the Berlin Blockade, giving him the idea to drop candy in 'Operation Little Vittles'

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