The Berlin Airlift

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Berlin Airlift (German: Berliner Luftbrücke) is the name of the operation of the Western allies on supplying West Berlin with food during the siege of the city by the USSR. The Berlin Airlift lasted from 23 June 1948 to 12 May 1949. Formally in the end of June 1948 the USSR and the USA were allies, Hitler's winners in the recent war. In fact they had already become the enemies. It was then when the debut Cold War crisis, the first open confrontation between East and West, happened. In general, as a result of the victory over fascism in the World War II in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe a new political situation has been shaping. The liberation of these countries was accompanied by the restoration of independence or the change of the political regime. System, which was established in Eastern Europe, was named People’s Democracy. People’s democracy was considered to be a transitional form of society that rejects totalitarianism and seeks to democratic ideals. Antifascist forces came to power in these countries: communist, social-democratic, radical parties in most countries were united in the Popular Front (Wettig G., 2008). In the formation of representative democracy the Soviet Union intervened. The Soviet army that was on the territory of Eastern Europe greatly influenced the political situation providing powerful support to procommunist forces in these countries. Even where Communists initially did not have superiority in parliament (Poland, Hungary), thanks to Soviet pressure, they controlled the important posts of interior ministers, national security forces etc. While the Communists enjoyed the support of the USSR, and right-wing forces were discredited during the war by collaboration with fascism, centrist forces found themselves in a quandary. Western democracies have refused to support them and they were divided and conquered by the Communists. When the Cold war started, basing on the already gained position and direct pressure from Moscow, the Communists quickly and without bloodshed established their authority during the 1947-1948. The aim of establishing communism covered the area of Berlin as well; for the realization of this it was necessary to make city sub-controlled to the Soviet Union completely, and not to divide the control over the territory with the allied forces (Wettig G., 2008). In response to the London meeting of the six powers (which initiated the process of formation of the Federal Republic of Germany, and which the Soviet Union considered as a violation of the Potsdam Agreement) on April 1, 1948, the order about short-term closure of borders of the Soviet occupation zone was signed by the head of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany Sokolovsky. The Western Allies were forced to supply their garrisons in Berlin by air. The incident later became known as the ‘small’ blockade of Berlin (Giangreco D. M., Griffin. R. E., 1988). In the period from March 31 till April 10, 1948 the USSR demanded that all trains going to Berlin from the western zones were searched. Subsequently, on June 12 due to the repair works road access to West Berlin was discontinued, then on June 21 river traffic stopped, couple of days later, on June 24, due to the ‘technical problems’ the train service ceased its functioning, and in the night from 23 to 24 June 1948 supply of electricity from the power plant in Golpa-Zschornewitz in western Berlin has been interrupted. At this time in the western sectors of Berlin in ruins there were about 2.2 million people that were completely dependent on external food supplies (Emery S., Lacomia J. M., Dillon M., 2008). June 26 is the day of the formal start of the Operation Vittles when after the ground and river access to the West Berlin was blocked Allied Air Force began the systematic mass delivery of food and goods to the Allied sectors of the city. Soviet historians have argued that the currency reform separately held on June 20, 1948 in the...
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