The Berlin Airliuft

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The Berlin Airlift

  • Blockade posed a problem for the Americans.
  • Truman not prepared to let his policy of containment fail
  • West Berlin had about 6 weeks of fuel and food left. The people would starve unless the USA handed over West Berlin to the Soviets, or provided them with food and essentials.
  • So, the americans decided to use 3 air routes into West Berlin and take goods in by air.
  • It was estimated that at least 4,000 tonnes of supplies would be needed every day.
  • At first, British and American planes only flying in 600 tonnes a day.
  • But, once the pilots got used to the narrow air corridors, the deliveries increased to 8,000 tonnes a day.
  • Pilots had to put up with ice and fog, as well as being tracked by soviet fighter planes.
  • Stalin tried to persuade the West Berliners to give up the fight.
  • Winter of 1948, electricity supplies were cut off.
  • Stalin bribed the West by promising them extra rations if they moved to the East. Only about 2 percent accepted.
  • Stalin considered attacking the British and American planes, but realised that this would be a declaration of war.
  • On 12th May 1949, Stalin accepted that his plan had failed and lifted the blockade.
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Importance Of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift

  • The USA and West had proved that they were prepared to stand up to the USSR and resist any further expansion- The Truman Doctrine in action.
  • It ended the possibility of a speedy unification, not only of Berlin but also Germany. In 1949, it was divided into the pro-west republic of West Germany and the pro-soviet communist East Germany.
  • It was seen as a victory in the West and led to the formation of NATO.
  • It was the first main crisis of the cold war and it set the pattern for the future. It consisted of threats, not war, but deepened the hostility between West and East.
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