The Berlin Blockade and the Berlin Wall The Cold War This icon indicates the slide contains activities created in Flash. These activities are not editable. For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation.
Berlin after 1945 Why was Berlin so important at the end of World War II? Complete your own spider diagram – what ideas can you suggest? Heart of Nazi power – Berlin was the symbolic capital of Germany and Nazism. Had been a race for Berlin at end of war – USA vs. USSR. Importance of Berlin Power and prestige – both USA and USSR wanted influence in Berlin – and wanted to stop the other. Geographical location – USA and USSR keen for central European military bases. Berlin was a city where the Cold War could become extremely hot!
Problems with Berlin Berlin was deep inside the Soviet sector, yet it was divided between the four Allied powers (USA, USSR, Britain and France). Germany was run by a joint Allied Control Commission, and Berlin was run by a joint Allied Kommandatura. The countries differed as to how they felt Germany should be governed. The USSR wanted to keep Germany weak, but the USA and Great Britain wanted to rebuild the German economy.
The introduction of a new currency was a step too far for Stalin. It was seen as a real threat. West Berlin was a ‘window into the West’ for those living in the Soviet sector. The Western Allies had invested heavily to help West Berlin recover. This showed those in East Germany (living behind the Iron Curtain) the standard of living in the West. West Berlin was thus a potential embarrassment to Stalin – with Marshall Aid it was being used as a showpiece of capitalism. This, together with his determination to prevent a West German state, meant Stalin had to do something… Explain SIX reasons why tensions grew over Berlin by 1948
The crisis begins Stalin thus wanted to force the Western Allies (USA, Britain and France) out of West Berlin. In June 1948, Stalin blocked all routes in and out of Berlin. Road, rail and canal routes were all cut – all surface transport links.
The response to Stalin’s blockade Consider the position of the Western Allies in June 1948. How should they react? Think about the following options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. Give in to Stalin’s demands – hand over control of West Berlin. This would prevent 2 million people starving. Invade the Soviet zone – blast through the blockade. This would start an armed conflict, but show Stalin who has most power. Fly food, fuel and all other supplies into West Berlin. A massive undertaking, requiring much organization and immense cost. Which is the best option? Explain your choice…
The Berlin Airlift The choice to fly supplies in was taken. This meant the Western Allies wouldn’t give in to Stalin, but also wouldn’t provoke war. It placed pressure back on Stalin – he couldn’t just shoot planes down! Poland Czechoslovakia France
How were the Berliners kept alive? For eleven months food and other supplies were flown into Berlin by British, French and US planes. Inhabitants of West Berlin depended on these flights for everything. In the winter of 1948 they lived on dried potatoes, powdered eggs and cans of meat, with just four hours of electricity per day. 275,000 flights carried in 1½ million tons of supplies. At its peak, one plane landed every 3 minutes. The airlift cost over $100 million, together with the lives of 79 servicemen who died in accidents. Was it worth it? How do you think the airlift was justified?
Differing perspectives… “When Berlin falls, western Germany will be next … Communism will run rampant”. “It was simply a propaganda move intended to make the Cold War worse.” General Lucius Clay,US commander in Germany. USSR contemporary viewpoint. “When we refused to be forced out of the city of Berlin, we demonstrated to the people of Europe that … we would act ... when their freedom was threatened.” US president Truman. What do you think both Stalin and the Western powers believe that the other side was trying to do?
Was the airlift a success? In May 1949 Stalin called off the blockade. The impact of the blockade should not be underestimated. It highlighted the divisions between East and West – and made these divisions more permanent. They lasted until the early 1990s! Germany would now be split up into West and East Germany. Cold War got worse – war had almost broken out. Results of the airlift Arms Race – both sides focused on building conventional and nuclear weapons NATO and the Warsaw Pact – defensive alliances would be set up.
After the blockade Using the Berlin blockade as ‘proof’ of Stalin’s intentions to take over Europe, the Western Allies set up NATO in 1949. This ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organization’ was a military alliance that offered mutual support in case of attack. The Warsaw Pact (the USSR equivalent) was set up in 1955. In May 1949 the Western Allies set up the new Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) – West Germany. In October 1949, the USSR responded by creating the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – East Germany.
Did problems continue in Berlin after the airlift? Berlin was a massive problem for East Germany. It was an escape route through to the West. Between 1945 and 1961 nearly one-sixth of the East German population had fled to the West. These were young, well qualified people – exactly those that East Germany didn’t want to lose! The new leader of the USSR, Khrushchev, like Stalin, wanted the West out of Berlin. Both sides accused the other of spying (which was entirely accurate!) and the Soviets continued to see Western influence in Berlin as dangerous and troublesome. Khrushchev hoped that the issue would be resolved at the Paris Summit of 1960, but this collapsed due to the U-2 spy plane incident. Tensions thus again rapidly grew between East and West …
Containing the East Berliners – the Wall In August 1961 Berliners awoke to find their city divided in half. The construction of the Berlin Wall had begun. East German guards patrolled the wall and shot anyone trying to escape over it. Why do you think Khrushchev decided to build a wall?
What effect did the wall have? Graph showing the number of defectors to the West. What do you notice about the number of defectors after 1961? What does this tell you about the success of the Berlin Wall?
Impact of the Berlin Wall Kennedy remarked that a wall is better than a war. Do you agree? East German citizens were now effectively prisoners – how does this reflect on Western governments? Khrushchev had been trying to push the Western powers out of Berlin. How would other communist countries view Khrushchev's decision to build a wall instead of removing the Westerners?
Your conclusion “The building of the wall was at once a sign of failure and success. It was a sign that there would be no settlement … of the problem of divided Germany … But it also reduced the possibilities of future crises in Berlin. The wall contributed to peaceful co-existence …”Peter Lane, 1985. To what extent can the wall be considered both a failure and a success? Who do you think would have been most pleased – Kennedy or Khrushchev? To what extent do you agree with Lane’s summary of the situation?