Berlin blockade

Article

July 3, 2022

The blockade of Berlin (June 24, 1948 - May 11, 1949) was one of the most important crises of the Cold War and consisted of the Soviet Union blocking all road and rail access to West Berlin. The crisis began to resolve itself when the Soviet Union did nothing to stop the airlift to Berlin, namely the US, British and French humanitarian flights carrying food and other supplies to the western sectors of Berlin. The Berlin blockade was one of the largest blocks around a city in modern history.

Premises

After the end of the Second World War, the Allied powers concluded the Potsdam Agreement, dividing the defeated Germany into four zones of occupation. Berlin was also divided into four zones, but being the city within the portion of Germany occupied by the Soviets, the US, British and French sectors, later known as West Berlin, formed an exclave of what would later be the Federal Republic. German within the territory of East Germany.

The dispute over Berlin

The Soviets pushed for West Germany, which would later become the Federal Republic of Germany, to pay them war damages, although this was not agreed upon. US President Harry S. Truman refused and on June 18, 1948 introduced the new German mark in place of the occupation currency in the three western sectors of Germany, reunited under US control after France and the UK had decided to withdraw, one for the losses suffered in the Indochina war and the other due to the Labor government focused on internal welfare, and which on May 23, 1949 were transformed into the Federal Republic of Germany. This was a measure of pressure on Stalin to end the occupation and reunify Germany. The Soviets objected that, having been invaded twice by a German state in the last thirty years, they wanted a demilitarized Germany, like Japan, before there was any talk of reunification. So Stalin responded, on October 7, 1949, by transforming the Soviet occupation zone of Germany into an "independent" but hegemonized state of the USSR, the German Democratic Republic, despite being reluctant to create two Germanys, preferring to have influence in everything. the German state rather than total control of the Soviet side alone. The Soviets wanted the Westerners, who occupied West Berlin (located within the Soviet occupation zone), to leave so that they could have control.

The airlift

On June 24, 1948, the USSR blocked access to the three sectors occupied by the troops of the US, UK and France in Berlin, cutting off all road and rail links that necessarily crossed the part of Germany under Soviet control. On the other hand, the three allied powers had never bargained for a right of way. The western parts of the city were also disconnected from the electricity grid, also under Soviet control. West Berlin became a dark besieged city, with no food or medicine. The commander of the US occupation troops, General Lucius D. Clay, proposed sending a large armored column through the roads linking West Germany to Berlin. The column would march peacefully to escort humanitarian aid, but would be ready to return fire if blocked or attacked. President Harry S. Truman considered the proposal an unacceptable risk of war and commissioned General Albert Wedemeyer, commander of the US air force in Europe, to study the feasibility of an airlift. On 25 June, the day after the blockade began, a huge airlift was started, which will then last 462 days. Hundreds and hundreds of airplanes, affectionately called "Rosinenbomber" (bom