Berlin Blockade

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Discuss and account for one of the Berlin crises which erupted during the Cold War.

In this essay I will look at the Berlin Blockade of 1948. This was the first of two Berlin crisis's and has often been cited as the starting point of the cold war. The cold war has often been described as a clash of beliefs, between that of capitalist beliefs and that of communist beliefs. In 1948 Stalin ordered a blockage on all ground access routes between West Germany and West Berlin, effectively trying to starve out the inhabitants of West Berlin, which at the time were Western allies and Western Berliners. I will look at the events leading up to this blockage and the influence that these had on the subsequent crisis. I will look at some of the possible causes for this growing tension between the East and the West and the resulting effect that this tension had. Having done this I will look at the success of the Berlin airlift and the implications this had for future East and West relations. In concluding I will have looked at some of the events that lead up to and influenced the blockage of Berlin as well as some of the possible causes for tension that finally gave way to the Berlin blockage. Finally I will have discussed the success of the Berlin airlift and the subsequent implications that it had for East West relations.

After WWII and the reaching of the Potsdam Agreement, Germany was divided into four zones to be occupied by the US, British, French and Russians respectively. The Russians had an Eastern zone and the US, British and French divided the Western zones amongst themselves, these zones would later be called East Germany and West Germany. However Berlin the capital of Germany was also to be divided into four zones similar to that of Germany itself again with the Soviet zone being called East Berlin and the Western controlled zones being called West Berlin.

One of the first events that influenced the eventual Berlin blockade was the Soviet breaking of the agreements made at the Yalta conference in 1945 in which Russia had agreed to the implementing of democratic elections in liberated countries namely Poland. The Soviet setup communist government in Poland, this angered the Western allies but they conceded on the basis that poles living in London must form part of the government, this happened but the communists always won the majority vote. Stalin was determined to build himself a buffer zone of friendly countries surrounding the Soviet following WWII and saw communists governments as a way of doing this, "For the Russian people, the question of Poland is not only a question of honor but also a question of security. Throughout history, Poland has been the corridor through which the enemy has passed into Russia. Poland is a question of life and death for Russia." (Stalin, Yalta Conference 1945). This is the first sign of the deteriorating relationship between the two emerging super powers of the East and West and would soon lead to many problems that developed in post-war Europe.

Following this broken agreement and increasing Soviet Eastern control the US decided to implement the Truman Doctrine which was a pact made by the US to support both financially and economically any country that was under communist pressure, "I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." (Truman Doctrine 1947) This was aimed at keeping both Greece and Turkey free of communist control. After a visit to Europe in 1947 by General George Marshall, Truman was informed that as a result of WWII the European economy was collapsing and that unless the US helped that Europe would turn communist. General Marshall called upon countries to put together a financial plan to help bolster the European economy. This was called the Marshall Plan. The plan was to raise $22billion and with the eventual help of...
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