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.
|January 1947||Britain and the USA join their two zones together into Bi-zonia (two zones).|
|December 1947||London Conference: America, Britain and France meet to discuss Germany's future. Russia is not present.|
|January 1948||Russia starts to stop western literature being sold in the Soviet zone.|
|March 1948||The USA offers Marshall Aid. Stalin forbids Cominform countries to take part.|
|April 1948||Russia imposes a partial blockade of west Berlin - Allied transport into the city has to apply for a permit and is inspected.|
|1 June 1948||America, Britain and France announce they wanted to create a new country of West Germany.|
|23 June 1948||America, Britain and France introduce a new currency - this causes economic chaos in the Russian zone as everyone tries to get rid of their old money and change to the new currency.|
Now consider this quote from the US commander in Berlin, General Clay:
When Berlin falls, Western Germany will be next. If we withdraw our position in Berlin, Europe is threatened... Communism will run rampant.
To help you learn the facts from this Revision Bite, imagine you are a Soviet writer trying to prove that America was to blame for the Berlin crisis of 1948, what would you say? Then think about what an American writer would say.
Remember don't confuse the Berlin Blockade of 1948 with the Berlin Wall of 1961!
As part of your revision, think about the arguments and facts you would use to explain: