Did the Berlin Blockade ‘trigger’ the Cold War? L/O – To identify the causes and effects of the Berlin Blockade on relations between the superpowers
Berlin represented • A move to test our ability and our will to resist. President Truman, speaking in 1949 • The climax of the struggle for power over Germany and Europe. Avi Shlaim, Britain, the Berlin Blockade and the Cold War (1983)
The Occupation of Germany • In 1945, Germany was invaded by Western Powers and Soviet forces. It was decided at Yalta and Potsdam to temporarily divide Germany into four zones, all administered by the Allied Control Council (ACC). • Berlin itself would be administered by the Allied Kommandantura, made up of four military governors. • This was a temporary arrangement. The intention was to keep Germany as one economy that would eventually become an independent state again. However by 1949, Germany had become permanently divided.
Long-Term Conflicts over Germany • 1. Differing Aims of the Powers – Germany’s position in Europe and its economic potential made it an area of concern. • The USSR did not want a resurgent and threatening Germany. It also wanted US$20 billion in reparations. • France also feared a united Germany and was in no rush to see Germany prosper again. • However the USA and UK saw the rapid economic recovery of Germany as the best way to contain communism.
Long-Term Conflicts over Germany • 2. Increasing Lack of Trust– As the Cold War developed, suspicions between the East and West intensified. • Both sides were concerned that a powerful Germany could once again be a threat if it joined with either side. Neither side wanted their opposing zones to recover before there's. • Stalin feared a pro-American and economically prosperous Germany. The West feared the influence of a Communist Germany.
Specific Disagreements over Germany • Economic Disagreements – At Potsdam it was agreed that the USSR could take 25% of all industrial equipment from Western Zones. In return, the USSR had to supply food and raw materials. • However, the USSR failed to deliver enough food, therefore the UK and USA stopped supplying the Soviet zone. • The Soviets also wanted coal from Western Zones, however the Americans exported 25 million tons of coal to Western Europe instead. • On 1st January 1947, the British and American zones were merged into one called ‘Bizonia’. This angered Stalin who wanted to prevent the West from rebuilding Germany.
Specific Disagreements over Germany • Political Disagreements – As early as 1945, Stalin made moves to incorporate Germany into Moscow’s sphere of influence. • In April 1946, the Soviets forcibly merged all political parties in their zone to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED). • However the SED failed to win support in the Western Zones as many Germans feared Soviet influence. As a result, SED leaders began planning their own regime in the East.
Why did the four occupying powers fail to work out a joint programme for Germany’s future? • Germany was the most populated and industrialized state in central and western Europe before the Second World War and much of its economic strength, especially its highly trained workforce, remained at the war’s conclusion. • Germany’s potential wealth and military and economic strength ensuredthat neither the USSR, nor the Western Allies, would allow the other to dominate it. • Indeed, as tension rose, both sides began to wonder whether Germany itself could be rehabilitated to become an ally in a future conflict between the two opposing political camps.
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!
The Russians were taking German machinery back to the USSR. In January 1947, Britain and the USA joined their two zones together to try to get German industry going.
Germany… Post WWII • Germany was divided into 4 zones: • American Zone • British Zone • French Zone • Russian Zone • Berlin, the capital, which was in the Soviet Zone, was also divided into 4 zones.
Germany Divided • The 4 Zones were very different from each other. • American Zone: mixture of rural and industrial areas; removal of Nazis with great thoroughness • Soviet Zone: agricultural, dependent on coal; belief that it was the result of capitalism that Nazism flourished, so they changed the economy completely • British Zone: had majority of the coal industry, but relied on other zones for food; tolerated Nazis in key economic positions • French Zone: fairly self-sufficient; had limber, industry and food
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.
Soviet aims in Germany • In June 1945, Stalin explained his plans for eventually bringing a reunified Germany into Moscow’s sphere of influence to the leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD). • The Red Army would directly control the Soviet zone of occupation, while the KPD would seek to win the support of the German workers in both the Soviet and the western zones. • Once Germany was allowed to hold elections for a new parliament, he hoped that the KPD would form a governing coalition with the Socialist and Liberal Parties, eventually taking control of the German government. • This may well have been the reason why the USSR was the first occupying power to allow the formation of democratic parties in its zone in June 1945.
The creation of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) • To broaden the appeal of the KPD, Stalin ordered his officials to force the merger of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) with the KPD in the Soviet zone in eastern Germany. • After at least 20,000 Social Democrats had been interrogated and imprisoned and in some cases even murdered, the Central Executive of the SPD in the Soviet zone agreed in February 1946 to the formation of the new party Stalin envisaged: the Socialist Unity Party (SED).
Reaction in western Germany • The violence in eastern Germany created fear and suspicion in western Germany, preventing the party’s success there. • When SPD voters in the western zones of Berlin were asked by the SPD leaders in Berlin to approve the merger of the two parties, it was rejected by 82 per cent. • Soviet and KPD actions in eastern Germany made many in western Germany and in the western zones of Berlin, as well as the Western Allies, suspicious of Soviet intentions.
The problem of reparations • By the spring of 1946, the compromise over reparations which had been negotiated in Potsdam was already breaking down. • The western zones, particularly the heavily populated British zone, were absorbing the majority of the German refugees who had been expelled by the Poles and Czechs from the former German territories that had been ceded to them at the end of the war. • This meant that there were now many more people to feed.
British and US economic policy in Germany • Britain and the US wanted a moderate German economic recovery so that their zones could at least pay for their own food imports. • Consequently, until that point was reached, they wished to delay delivering to the USSR the quotas from their own zones of machinery and raw materials, which had been agreed at Potsdam . • There were even discussions that the Soviet zone would have to deliver food to the hard- pressed western zones. • The Soviets, who had suffered the most casualties and war damage during the Second World War as a result of a German invasion of their country, were very reluctant to agree to this.
British and US economic policy in Germany • General Clay, governor of the US-occupied zone, attempted to force the Soviets to agree to British and US economic policy in Germany by unilaterally announcing in May 1946 that no further deliveries of reparation goods would be made to the Soviet Union. • Clay stated that there would have to be an overall plan for the German economy for deliveries to be continued, although this violated the earlier agreement.
Chronology • Feb 1948- London Conference: single currency to be used in Europe • Soviets disagreed, removed themselves from group • American Aid 31 March 1948 Congress voted for Marshall Aid on • Immediately, the Russians started searching all road and rail traffic into Berlin. • Marshall Aid was the straw that broke the camel’s back . • Russia was scared that East Germany will be a replication of Czechoslovakia.
Soviet response • The Soviets saw this as an attempt by the US to force Germany’s reconstruction along capitalist lines, which would benefit both US and British industries as it would inevitably integrate Germany into their trading systems. • The Soviets responded in June 1946 by increasing eastern Germany’s industrial production – the products of which went directly to the Soviet Union as reparations – while taking over control of 213 east German companies.
The Conference of Foreign Ministers, July 1946 • When the Conference of Foreign Ministers returned to the question of Germany in July, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov insisted that Germany should pay the USSR the equivalent of $10 billion in reparations. • US Secretary of State James Byrnes again argued the US position that reparations could only be paid once Germany had a trade surplus that would cover the cost of food and raw material imports for the US and British zones. He then offered to unify the US zone economically with the other three zones.
Prelude to Bizonia • Only Britain, whose economy was under great pressure accepted the US proposal while both France and the USSR rejected it. • France strongly opposed a united Germany, while the USSR would not tolerate a united Germany dominated by the US and restored to economic strength, and therefore potential military strength.
The creation of Bizonia, January 1947 • This lack of agreement was a major step in the division of Germany into two states, which eventually took place in 1949. • When the British and US zones were merged economically in January 1947 to form what became known as Bizonia, the US argued that, far from breaking the Potsdam Agreement, the amalgamation would eventually create the economic conditions for fulfilling the Potsdam Agreement and enable reparations to be paid.
US Rational • The US stated that only through economic prosperity could the Soviets receive full reparation payments. • Bizonia would be the first stage in restoring economic prosperity to Germany and this prosperity would mean that the French and Soviet zones would eventually merge with it.
Soviet Reaction • The Soviets suspected that Britain and the US hoped to use Bizonia only to create a capitalist Germany and believed that the two countries did not have the right to form such an economic entity by themselves without consulting the USSR or France. • The Soviets also feared that Britain and the US would attempt to establish a separate German state in western Germany of which Bizonia was only a first step.
The Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, March–April 1947 • The Soviets made a determined effort to destroy Bizonia by demanding that a new central German administration under Four-Power control should be immediately created in line with earlier agreements that all Four Powers should rule Germany together . • RETURN to the POTSDAM AGRREMENT
British Push towards the Recovery • They ran into strong opposition from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin who feared that this would slow up the economic recovery of the British zone and, indeed, the whole of Bizonia.
Give the Reparations Back ? • Britainproposed a plan for revising the reparation clauses of the Potsdam Agreement, which involved the USSR returning some of the reparations it had seized from eastern Germany to the western zones so that the zones of the Western Allies would be better able to pay for their imports.
US Propositions • This plan further stated that the Soviet Union would receive no coal or steel from any part of Germany as reparations until Germany could pay for all its imports of food and raw materials. • The Soviets rejected the proposal outright – it appeared to them that they were the only ones making economic sacrifices for the benefit of Germans and the Western Allies, while their own nation was in ruins and in need of coal and steel.
Bizonia Continued to Flourish • The lack of unity at the Moscow Conference on the part of the Four Powers regarding Germany’s economic future gave Britain and the US an excuse to continue operating independently in their zones with little regard for Soviet views. • Bizonia was strengthened economically and given more political independence while France slowly began to accept British and US views on German economic development. • The divisive issue of reparations, and the future of Germany’s government, was to be discussed in November 1947 in London
The decision to create a West German State • The failure of the London Conference of Foreign Ministers in December 1947 strengthened the Western allies in their resolve to form a separate west German state. A second London conference was then held from February to June 1948 where Britain, France, the US and the Benelux states met to discuss the establishment of this new state. • France was adamantly against • On 7 June, Germans in the western zones were granted permission to create a constitution for a democratic, federal West Germany.
Specific Disagreements over Germany • Meanwhile, Western allies decided to consolidate their occupying zones. • At the London Conference of Foreign Ministers in 1948, France, Britain and the USA began drawing up a constitution for a new West German state. Soviet spies told Stalin everything. • They also agreed to introduce a new currency, the Deutschmark, in the Western Zones. Stalin viewed this as the first step in the establishment of a new Germany. • To stop this, Stalin decided to blockade Berlin in an attempt to force the West out.
What happened? • In response to the introduction of the new currency, Stalin launched a total blockade of West Berlin on 23rd June 1948. • All road, railway and waterways linking West Berlin to the Western Zones of Germany were closed. Supplies of electricity were also cut. The USSR also left the Allied Control Council for Germany and the Berlin Kommandantura. • This left the West with a stark choice, they didn’t want to risk war with the USSR but they didn’t want to let West Berlin fall to the Communists.
From a Russian History Book • [So The Americans had introduced a new currency into Berlin.] • Old money flooded into the Soviet Zone. • Some restrictions were placed on links between Berlin and western zones, but the Soviet side was ready to supply food to all Berlin. • Yet every day 380 American planes flew into Berlin. • It was simply a propaganda move intended to make the cold war worse.
The crisis begins Stalin 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…
Berlin Blockade Caused a Havoc The Berlin Blockade resulted in blockage of all the supplies from Western Germany to Western Berlin.
The Berlin Blockade • On June 23, 1948, a message from a Soviet news agency was sent to a newspaper in Berlin. It read: “The Soviet administration is compelled to halt all traffic to and from Berlin tomorrow at 0600 hours because of technical difficulties.” • These technical difficulties closed the roads and canals. • Berlin had only enough food and supplies to last for 6 weeks • The aim was to force western forces out of Berlin • America believed that if West Berlin fell to Communism, the next to fall would be West Germany
What happened? • To avoid war, the West decided to bypass the blockade entirely by airlifting supplies to West Berlin. • Over 320 days, the West flew 200,000 flights to Berlin, supplying over 1 ½ million tons of food and coal to 2.2 million West Berliners at a cost of $100 million. 1 plane landed every three minutes and had 7 minutes to unload. • It worked. By May 1949 Stalin realised his gamble had failed. He couldn’t force the West out of Berlin without using force.
The Berlin Airlift • British and American forces organized a 24 hour-a-day airlift into the city providing food, supplies and other goods • Britain also stationed 60 B-29 planes with atomic bomb capability within short distance of Berlin to ward off ideas of shooting down British and American airlift planes • On May 12, 1949, the blockade was lifted Tactic of the Cold War : Nuclear Intimidation : Remember the Hiroshima
FURTHER but IMPLICIT PRESSURE • In order to apply further, but implicit, pressure on the Soviets, the US transferred 60 long-range bombers to Britain, which most governments believed held atomic bombs. This was a bluff as bombers capable of carrying atomic bombs only arrived in 1949. • Nevertheless, this deterrent may have prevented the Soviet Union from aggressively countering the Berlin Airlift, as the operation is known, since the Soviets had few bombers and no atomic bombs at this time.
In this British cartoon from 1948, Stalin watches as the storks fly coal and food into Berlin, but he dares not shoot them down.