The Berlin Blockade and airlift
In this Revision Bite you will learn about the causes of the Berlin Blockade crisis of 1948 - how Stalin was eventually forced to abandon the plan that could have cost the lives of thousands living in divided Berlin or started another war.
In 1945, the Allies decided to split Germany into four zones of occupation. The capital, Berlin, was also split into four zones. The USSR took huge reparations from its zone in eastern Germany, but Britain, France and America tried to improve conditions in their zones.
In June 1948, Britain, France and America united their zones into a new country, West Germany. On 23 June 1948, they introduced a new currency, which they said would help trade.
The next day, Stalin cut off all rail and road links to west Berlin - the Berlin Blockade. The west saw this as an attempt to starve Berlin into surrender, so they decided to supply west Berlin by air.
The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days. During this time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tons of supplies and a plane landed every three minutes at Berlin's Templehof airport.
On 12 May 1949, Stalin abandoned the blockade.
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