Sir Freddie






Q: You took a camera with you. Can you tell me about that?

A: Oh yes. I have a little eight millimetre Revere movie camera, had that with me all the time shooting footage of this, but I wanted to include in that footage something of Berlin, and you couldn't do that because you'd see it from the air, but you'd land at Tempelhof, or we did, and the Brits at Gattau and stand by the aeroplane. The second it was unloaded they'd ask to get out of there and go for another load. So we had no opportunity to take footage of Berlin. 'Cos one day I thought this thing's going to be over and I wanted to get some footage, so instead of going to bed for the six hours I had, I just jumped on my friend's aeroplane at noon one day, headed back to Berlin, started shooting movies at the fence at Tempelhof. And these movies were interesting to me. I wanted to show, if I ever got married and had kids I'd show 'em this approach, it was a crazy approach. Hitler built the runway too short for us, and we had to come right over these old bombed-out buildings, come down very quickly and get on the ground. And with the load we had it was a real challenge. And of course in weather it was a special challenge, coming over the bombed out buildings. Later on we got a runway between the buildings and that was easier access. But I, I went back to Berlin, to get this picture, inside the barbed wire. Kids came up on the other side of the barbed wire, look at me in the uniform, the building behind them, runway right behind us. And I was shooting, they came up and started talk to me, "How many sacks of flour have you got?", you know, "How's it going to be tomorrow? More aeroplanes?" They'd tell me, they kep' a list, how many more aeroplanes would come in every day, and week to week. But they got off the subject of flour very quickly, on the subject of freedom, and said, "Look," he said, "some day we'll have enough to eat. Just give us a little. Just don't give up on us when the weather gets bad. But we can get along without enough to eat. Some day we'll have enough. But if we lose our freedom we may never get it back." And these kids were eight to fourteen years old and blew my mind with their maturity, understanding of what was important. They'd seen enough of Hitler; they saw what Stalin was doing across the border; their aunts and uncles were coming into West Berlin to use the library to find out what's going on in the world; they couldn't travel; they - didn't have their church opera- opportunities: so these kids had a real understanding of what was important in their life and they wanted freedom like Americans. I was so engrossed in what they were saying that I'd forgotten that I had a jeep waiting for me at operations two miles around the terminal. And all of sudden light came on, "Holy Cow, kids, I gotta get out of here. I got a jeep waiting, I want to get to Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Hitler's bunker and sorry, but I got to run." I started to run, and I got just about five steps and a little voice said, "Hey these kids are really different. How come?" Said, "Well they got a post graduate degree in international relations. They're not out of grammar school." I took off, voice came back, "Wrong answer." And then I remembered I flown South America and Africa during the war and they had lemon candy but the kids would chase you in gangs and surround you and shake it out. "You're a rich American. You're a drug store pipeline. We want some of that stuff." Obnoxious. And these kids, thirty of them, hadn't had gum and candy for months. And yet one of them wouldn't lower themself, not one would lower themselves and become a beggar, hold out their hand and say, "Hey," you know, "give me, give me some, something so extravagant as gum and candy." They were so grateful for food to be free that they wouldn't be beggars. And it blew my mind. First group, you know, post-war, or during the war situation I'd seen like that. So I reached in my pocket instinctively, I had two sticks of gum. Got two