The Cold War: The Berlin Blockade

Causes, consequences and what happened in the Berlin Blockade/ airlift

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  • Created by: SG
  • Created on: 01-06-12 20:59

Causes of the Berlin Blockade

  • Berlin was divided into four zones for Britain, France, America & Russia, but was in the soviet zone
  • Long term suspicions made Berlin into a conflict waiting to happen
  • Britain, France and America had united their zones of Germany and Berlin in 1946
  • In 1948 they reformed the currency to further encourage economic prosperity
  • However, Stalin felt that these moves were provocative and he was keen to extert his authority
  • West Berlin had become a symbol for both sides- to the USSR it was an unwanted tumor and Stalin was going to do his best to get rid of it
  • In addition, Stalin didn't want his side to have news of the outside world- he wanted to keep people dependant on him and to keep Germany crippled so they would favour communism
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What Happened

In June 1948, Stalin cut off all road, rail and canal links to west Berlin in attempt to force the west berliners to become reliant on the USSR. This was clever as if the US tanks tried to ram the blocks then it would be seen as an act of war. However, the allies wern't prepared to give up- Truman wanted to show he was serious about containment & retain his symbol of hope.

The only way left into Berlin was by air, so the allies air-lifted in supplies to West Berlin. When the first planes took off, everyone feared the soviets would shoot them down, but they didn't. Neither Truman nor Stalin wanted wanted to back down so supplies were constantly lifted in for 10 months, despite severe shortages. 

By May 1949 Stalin realised the blockade of Berlin wouldn't deter the allies, so he lifted it.

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Consequences of the Berlin Blockade

In the short term, both sides claimed victory: the west because containment had worked and the USSR as they could exert control over Berlin.

However, in the long term neither side had won, a stalemate had deveoped. Due to the blockade, Germany stayed a divided contry for 41 years and Berlin forever became the symbol of the cold war: an oasis of hope in communism. The USA & USSR's worries about Berlin affected their policies with the rest of the world & it set a pattern for the rest of the cold war.

In April 1949, NATO (north atlantic treaty alliance) was set up, it was an alliance between western powers to stop war between America & Russia- which had seemed a possibility in the Berlin Blockade. In 1955, the Warsaw Pact was created, similar to NATO but an alliance between eastern countries- it gave Russia & the red army greater power.

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