The causes of the Berlin Blockade, the Berlin Airlift and its consequences

By June 1948, Stalin had taken control of most of Eastern Europe.

In response, the West made Western Europe wealthy and pro-american.

After the War, Germany and it's capital Berlin, were each divided into four zones of occupation; the British, French, American and Soviet Zones.

Western Germany had always been a rich industrial area of Europe, so it was decided that Western Germany would be included in the plans to rebuild Europe. With this aim, the USA...:

  • Extended the Marshall Plan to the Western Zones of Germany, but not the Soviet Zone, as they knew Stalin would reject the offer.

  • Combined American, British and French zones together, creating a stronger zone that was much easier to manage.

  • In the Western Allied zone, a new currency was introduced called the 'Deutschmark'. It has began to help Germany recover, but is much stronger currency in the Soviet zone.

The Berlin Blockade

The blockade began on the 24th of June, when the Soviets cut all land and water connections between the allied zones and Berlin and halted all traffic and trading in and out of Berlin.

The Allies (US, UK, France) responded by cutting trade and traffic from Western Germany into East Germany.

The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift began on the 26th of June 1948 and lasted until the 30th of September the next year.

Over this time, the Western Zones of Germany flew more than 1.5 million tons of food, fuel, clothes and equipment into Berlin with around 1,000 flights landing each day.

Surprisingly, Soviet forces did not fire on the planes and allowed them to pass over Soviet territory.

By May 1949, Stalin accepted that his attempt to force the Western Allies out of West Berlin had failed and called the blockade off.

The Allies continued the airlift until September to build up a comfortable surplus of resources in case of another blockade.

What effects did the incident in Berlin bring in Europe?

Immediate Effects

  • In 1949, the Western Allies set up a military alliance called NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in which they promised to defend each other if attacked.

  • The Berlin Airlift significantly improved the relationship between the Allies and the Germans living in Western Germany, especially because they had been at war recently.

  • Germany became permanently divided into the Allied zone: Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet zone: German Democratic Republic.

  • The crisis was peacefully resolved by the airlifts and showed the West's commitment to the city.

  • The USSR and the Western Allies both increased propaganda against each other as they both claimed victory.

Long Term Effects

  • Berlin became a symbol and the center of Cold War Tensions as the Americans saw Berlin as an 'island' of democracy in the middle of communist repression and the Soviets saw Western Berlin as an 'invasive cancer' in East Germany.

  • Due to the Soviet Union's actions, many Americans became even more anti-communist, fearing future communist aggression in the West. They began to pressurise their government into fighting communism globally.

  • In 1955, the Soviets created the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance where the USSR and Communist states of Eastern Europe promised to defend each other if they were under attack.