After reading and learning about the Berlin Blockade, our History teacher Lenny asked us to answer some questions and complete a chart about the topic.
- What was life like in Berlin in the post-war era?
Berlin was divided into two zones, the eastern and western part. The west part was capitalist and was divided into three zones: The French zone, the British zone and the American zone. The east part was communist and was under Soviet control. Berlin was devastated, it had suffered a lot and its people were also going through very harsh times, as they had lost everything. Life was terrible for everyone, especially in the east part, as the soviets had strict control over the people and their lifestyle. The whole city was under constant threat of war, so people lived with fear. Moreover, there was a lot of poverty and shortage of food and supplies.
- How did Soviet policy towards Berlin differ from that of the West?
The west part was capitalist and they wanted Berlin to grow and recover. On the other hand, the communist part wanted to keep the city crippled and destroyed. They were against Berlin recovering.
- Why was reform of the German currency a key issue for both sides?
This was symbol of union for the west side, which wanted to show their power and alliance(between the British, American and French parts). However, Stalin believed the new currency was an attempt against the East’s economy. This finally lead into the Berlin Blockade, which finally meant the start of the Cold War.
4.Why was the airlift such a major feat?
The airlift showed this union the allies wanted to demonstrate. It showed power, the west wouldn’t be doomed by the soviets. The capitalists found the way to go over communism. Thanks to the airlift, the west part was improving whilst the east part was in decadence. The east part could see the capitalist prosperity and compared to their poverty it was frustrating. Also, 11 months later, the Soviets retired the blockade because it wasn’t working. The capitalists were very intelligent with this strategy, and it was an achievement for them. This event determined the start of the cold war, which is why it’s so important.
- In what respect can the USSR and US be responsible for further increasing tensions during the airlift?
The tension during the airlift was very strong. The US and the USSR can be responsible for further increasing tensions during the airlift because they were very suspicious of each other although the two countries had expressed they were not willing to go to war. They had opposite ideals and objectives, as they wanted opposite things for Berlin. The US saw the blockade as a threat to the freedom of Western Europe. The blockade triggered war, as it was the final event that showed the clear rivalry between both countries.
- Why did Stalin eventually agree to talks over the airlift?
Stalin agreed to talk over the airlift because he saw the strength of the allies amd that the blockade wouldn’t stop them. They wouldn’t give up as he expected. Also, with the airlift the allies were giving even more help and supplies to Berlin than before the blockade. This showed the blockade was uneffective. After 11 months of blockade, he opened communications and the airlift was over.
Extension question; Who was more to blame for Berlin becoming a major flashpoint in the Cold War, the Soviets or the Americans?
In my opinion the USSR was more to blame as she was persistent on making the whole of Berlin soviet. The allies were also persistent on keeping their part capitalist, but they didn’t interfere with the East part. The importnace of Berlin was alo determined by the Berlin blockade, which was created by the communists. With the Berlin blockade the Soviets were interfering with the west part of Berlin, and the allies had not done this with the eastern part. Stalin could have let the allies supply their part of Berlin. The allies had done nothing against the Soviet part of Berlin. The USSR should have minded her own part of Berlin and let the allies do what they wanted as long as they didn’t interfere with West Berlin.
The Berlin Blockade, Why did it happen and what were the consequences?:
- Yalta Background; Germany was divided int four parts; the British, French, American and Soviet parts. Berlin, the capital, was algo divided into these four parts, and controlled by them. This conference created tension. Eastern europe became a soviet sphere of influence.
- Stalin’s concerns; Unification of West Berlin, as it would became stronger and more powerfu than the East part. It would become a buffer against communism, which wouldn’t benefit Stalin. Capitalist countries would make their region prosperous, making communist states eager to prosper as them and start to distance from communist ideals.
- Stalin’s reaction; Carrying out the Berlin Blockade, therefore blocking the communication\supply lines between West Germany and Berlin.
- «Allied» Reaction; They airlifted supplies to make sure the population could survive and not suffer from poverty and starvation. With the airlift they prevented West Berlin from depending on East Berlin.
- Consequences for USSR; USA didn’t become weaker as the USSR thought. She showed her strenght. As the blockade was ineffective because the allies managed to create the airlift, Stalin was forced to reopen the roads. The blockade had no positive benefits for Stalin, supplies from the West were even bigger than before.
- Consequences for USA; She reinforced the policy of containment. She was able to show off her power, strength and intelligence. The NATO was created, an alliance between the US, France and Great Britain.