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Hist 112 Berlin Airlift Photograph Analysis

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Dr. Burrows
History 112
26 November 2012

Berlin Airlift Photograph Analysis

There is a popular saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, an expression simply meaning that photographs have the ability to help tell a story. For instance, there is the famous kiss photo taken in Times Square after Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. The picture has become an American symbol that portrays the victory and patriotism felt by Americans on that great day. Likewise, an image of an American plane flying over the city of Berlin, Germany in 1948 has its own significance in our world’s history.

This particular photograph is in black and white and shows a crowd of Berlin citizens looking up at a low-flying plane. It is not necessarily exceptional from an artistic standpoint, for the quality is not remarkable and without knowledge of the circumstance of those photographed, the picture could easily be overlooked. Looking closely, only children appear in the picture with the exception of one older man, who is the only person with his face in view of the camera’s shot. The presence of a large crowd indicates anxiousness for the arrival of this plane, which happens to be carrying a load of supplies for the people. The photo was captured from the bottom of the hill that the children are standing on, thus separating the photographer from the event. The scene does not look posed, especially because there are some children walking through the frame. It appears that the photographer simply wanted to capture the photo when the plane was as close to the ground as possible.

Even before the Berlin blockade and airlift, the citizens of Berlin, Germany had suffered from scarcity of food and lack of heat due to damage throughout Europe as a result of World War II. Other European countries also endured coal shortages, a broken transportation system, and destroyed crops at…...

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