The Berlin Blockade and Airlift ? 1948-1949 Essay

This essay has a total of 931 words and 5 pages.

The Berlin Blockade and Airlift ? 1948-1949

After the Second World War, Berlin was split between the UK, France, the US and the USSR
as it was decided at Yalta and Potsdam. Soon afterwards the four zones merged into two,
namely West and East Berlin. Berlin shortly afterwards became the front for the cold war
between the USSR and the West.


On June 25th, 1948, the USSR set up a blockade around Berlin to try and force the Allies
to give up their rights to the western part of the city. Stalin halted all traffic into
and out of the Russian sector of Berlin; he also cut off all electricity, claiming
technical difficulties. With all roads blocked, the Allies had no way of keeping the 2.5
million citizens of West Berlin, who only had enough supplies to last 45 days, fed and
warm. At the beginning of the Blockade, however, some left wing British labour parties
suggested that the UK should withdraw but the idea was quickly dismissed by Bevin , who
said: "We intend to stay in Berlin… The opinion of the whole world will condemn the
ruthless attempt by the Soviet Government to create a state of siege in Berlin and so, by
starving the helpless civilian population, secure political advantages at the expense of
the other Allied Powers."

General Clay devised a way of supplying the people of West Berlin in way of an airlift but
first had to convince his commanding officer, General LeMay . He agreed and the airlift
started on the 24th of June 1948 under the codename "Operation Vittles".

At the same time, Clay pushed President Truman to reopen the closed roads, by force.
Truman rightfully rejected the idea in fear that by using force would escalate the
situation and upgrade the cold war into a full "hot war".

At the start of the airlift, the main aircraft used was the C-47 , but due to space
restrictions soon had to be replaced with the C-54. General Clay was ever to meet his goal
of 4,500 tons of supplies a day. A total of 72 C-54 bombers and 2,500 crewmembers were
used in the airlift and by September 1948, the airlift was transporting 5,583 tonnes of
supplies into West Berlin.


Russia tried to justify the blockade by claiming the West had voided their right to the
occupation of Berlin on July 14th, and that the blockade was to protect "the economy of
the Soviet zone". This was in some part due to the Allies insisting on setting up a
separate West German government and issuing a separate currency. The USSR stood by its
argument that "West Berlin is in the centre of the Soviet zone and is now part of that
zone."

The Western reaction to the Soviet accusations was as could be expected and they replied
that no "Threats, pressure or other actions" could force the US out of Berlin. General
Donovan also said "The place to make a stand against Russia is right here in Berlin. This
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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