Tagung »Alltagsgeschichten von Flughäfen«, Vortrag von Lauren Stokes

Lauren Stokes »Berlin’s Wings«? Selling Mobility in Cold War West Berlin

West Berlin arguably existed because of aviation. When the Soviet Union imposed a blockade around the city in June 1948, the military leadership of the Western Allies made a choice to supply the city via the three air corridors that linked Berlin to the Western occupation zone. The so-called »Berlin Airlift« preserved the city as a distinctive Western outpost within the Soviet zone, and only 15 years later, the residents of West Berlin were subject to a new conflict fought out over the airways: who would be responsible for flying people out of West Berlin and providing them access to national and international mobility? Would it be the Western Allies and their three airlines – British Airways, Air France, and Pan American’s Internal German Service (IGS), or would it be the East German flag carrier Interflug? Starting in 1963 the management of Interflug began to aggressively pursue the residents of West Berlin as customers by seeking to exploit its sovereignty over airspace as a competitive advantage. Interflu g sold mobility as a consumer commodity to the West to obtain hard foreign currency even as the GDR experienced the mobility of its own citizens as an existential threat, and many West Berlin politicians were only too happy to point out the hypocrisy in this stance. This talk uses the archives of Interflug and of Pan Am to show how airlines and airports on two different sides of the Cold War both sought to market and promote mobility to West Berliners.
Lauren Stokes is Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University, where she teaches German, migration, and gender history. She completed her dissertation at the University of Chicago in 2016, and her research has been supported by organizations including the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Central European History Society, and Alice Kaplan Institute at Northwestern University.

Publications (among others):
»Racial Profiling on the U6: Policing the ›Berlin Gap‹ in the Schönefeld Airport Refugee Crisis«, in: Central European History (forthcoming); Fear of the Family: Guest Workers and Family Migration in the Federal Republic of Germany, Oxford 2022; »Vom Auffinden der Gastarbeiter in der Gastarbeitergeschichte«, in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Volume 70.1, January 2022, p. 40–49; »The Permanent Refugee Crisis in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1949—«, in: Central European History, Volume 52.1, March 2019, p. 19–44.