The Berlin Blockade

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The announcement of The Truman Doctrine (a policy aimed at stopping communism) and The Marshall Plan (providing economic aid to European countries, both east and west) by the United States in 1947 caused Stalin further doubt about the Western Allies' intentions. It was in this atmosphere that the Berlin crisis arose.

The Berlin Blockade: Berlin was located completely within the eastern side of Germany which was occupied by the Russians. Britain and the United States unified the western zones of Berlin in 1948, and announced a new currency there. Stalin responded on June 24 by attempting to force the western allies out of Berlin altogether. He cut off rail and road access to the western side of the city.

Between June 1948 and May 1949, the Western Allies mounted a massive airlift to keep the western sectors supplied with the 5000 tons per day of food and fuel that the city needed, a massive undertaking. This broke the blockade. On May 12, 1949 Stalin lifted the blockade and the Cold War was underway.

Berlin Airlift
Airlift at Tempelhot 1949
(Truman Library)

Landing at Templehof
landing at Tempelhof

In May 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was created. In September the Soviet-supported Republic of Germany was established in the East. This resolved the issue of Berlin for the moment. The establishment of NATO and The Warsaw Pact (military organization) in the same year gave teeth to this formal division. Europe was now two armed camps divided by an Iron Curtain.

American cartoon
American cartoon from 1948 (Truman Library)

Part of M.A.D: The Cold War exhibit

The Cold War

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