The Berlin Blockade and Airlift began on the 23rd of June 1948 and ended on the 12th of May 1949. It was the first major conflict to occur during the Cold War between USA and the USSR. During this conflict Western Berlin who was under the control of the Western Allies was blocked off from the West Germany by the USSR. USA decided to airlift goods between West Berlin and West Germany. The causes of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift we the Yalta Conference, the American policy of containment and the growing mistrust and tension between the USA and the USSR.
The consequences of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift were the major disruption to the everyday life of the people living in West Berlin, NATO and Warsaw Pact created and the further decline in the relationship between USA and the USSR. One cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the Yalta Conference. The Yalta Conference was a conference held by the ‘Big Three’- USA, Britain and the USSR. It was held in Yalta (USSR) in February 1945. This conference was to decide the future of Europe. They came to the decision that Germany would be divided into four separate zones.
One for each of USA, Britain, USSR and France. Berlin was to be separated in a similar way. The Iron Curtain was also established. This was a barrier between Eastern and Western Europe. Communist East and Non-Communist West. It was decided that there would be free elections for Eastern Europe but that agreement was not kept as one by one communist parties were voted into power. Also the allies agreed that the Soviet Union would receive a quarter of the industrial goods made in the Western zones in return for food and coal from the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union did not send food and coal in return.
Therefore the Yalta Conference can be seen as a cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift. Another cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the American policy of containment. Containment is the idea of stopping the spread of communism around the world. The Marshall Aid Plan was introduced in 1947 and involved th USA giving European countries money in order to build them up from war, making them prosperous again and to stop the spread of communism. The Truman Doctrine, another containment policy, involved USA promising to send money, weapons and advisors to any country that felt threatened my communism.
For example the US congress gave 400 million dollars of military aid th Greece. Stalin was worried about the USA policy of Containment, as he thought they might try to interfere in the Soviet Union and stop his desire to spread communism. The Western idea of containment can be considered a cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift because Stalin wanted to eject the USA of West Berlin to protect his communist influence in Eastern Europe. By blocking all access to West Berlin, Stalin was also testing the American policy.
America, true to its word, decided to put the policy of containment in action and decided to airlift supplies into West Berlin rather than letting Stalin initiate a communist takeover. Therefore, the USA policy of containment was a direct cause pf the Berlin Blockade and Airlift. The final cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the growing tension and mistrust between the two super powers, leading to Stalin closing the border in Berlin and America deciding to airlift in supplies.
With USA’s policy of containment Stalin felt threatened by a capitalist takeover and looked for ways to protect his interests. Separating the West from Berlin would be a way for him to protect his Western border. The final straw was when the Western Allies introduced a new currency to West Germany. Stalin felt more threatened now and closed all access to West Berlin by road and railway which was difficult for the Western Allies and people living there. In June 1948 Stalin completely blocked off all access accept by airlift. The Blockade and Airlift had began.
As a result of all of this USA and Britain were forced to airlift supplies as it was the only way to get supplies into West Berlin, so therefore, the growing mistrust and tension between the superpowers was a direct cause of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift. A short term consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the major disruption to everyday life of the people living in West Berlin , causing stress and trauma. Stalins goal was to force the Western Allies out of West Berlin by reducing the population to starvation.
This caused a lot of stress among the people of West Berlin. Berlin only had enough food and fuel to last six weeks but Berlins 2. 1 million at least 4,000 tonnes to survive per day. USA’s first fligh was on the 26th of June 1948 bought 80 tonnes of milk, flour and medicine. By September a load of supplies landed in West Berlin every three minutes, day and night. The Berliners became desperate. By October people were aloud small amounts of fat, spam, potatoes and bread. By Spring 1949, 8,000 tonnes of supplies were flown in each day. In all 2 million tonnes of supplies were flown in.
The Soviet Union tried to stop the airlift. The people of West Berlin had to adjust to rationing their foods rather than it always being available. The blockade also effected the economy and employment, as people were either not able to get to their place of work, or they were unable to get a hold of supplies. Families were also separated by the blockade which would have added to the stress and trauma. The disruption to everyday life for the people of West Berlin can be seen as an immediate consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift.
Another consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact. Because America believed Stalin had started the crisis in Berlin, America became fearful that Stalin would initiate another attack on capitalism, perhaps on a larger scale. So America decided to form NATO, which was signed in Washington on the 4th of April, just before the crisis ended. The alliance was designed to be purely defensive. All members agreed to regard an attack on any one of them as an attack on all of them.
The Soviet Union saw NATO as an attempt to encircle their nation with countries hostile to communist ideas. Western Europe were only too glad to take refuge in alliance backed up with the vast military strength of USA. In the Soviets eyes, the events justified to create a counter military attack. So, on the 14th of May 1955 the Warsaw Pact was created. Between 1949 and 1989, NATO and the Warsaw Pact acted as umbrellas for collective defense of the West and Eat. The creation of both of these treaties can be seen as a consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift.
The final consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was a further decline in the relationship between USA and the USSR which led to other long-term consequences such as the establishment of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile crisis. The Berlin crisis led to important political changes. The aim of the reunification in Germany, decided at the Yalta Conference, was in tatters. It was now clear that Germany could not be united. The process of creating two separate Germany states began. In August 1949 the German Federal Republic (West Germany) was set up with Bonn as the capital city and Konrad Adenauer as its first chancellor.
In September 1949 the Soviet Union re-named their zone the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). After the crisis both sides became engrossed in the Nuclear Arms race and the Space race, as both sides were still wishing to prove themselves the most powerful. This led to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). The idea of deterrence developed- if either side attacked they could be sure of swift retaliation by the other. Defections increased to 20,000 a month, which led to a serious shortage of workers in East Berlin.
In response to this, on the 13th of August 1961, the Berlin Wall was established. Krushchev, the current leader of the USSR, wanted to block off West Berlin from the rest of Germany so built a wall around it. On the 17th of August the barbed wire began to be replaced with stone. America protested to the Soviet Union about their action- but did no more Kennedy was not willing to risk war over Berlin. The Cuban Missile Crisis, which began on the 14th of October 1962 was yet another example of the poor relationship between the two powers.
During the crisis the world was on edge as USA and the USSR came to the brink of Nuclear War. Fortunately the crisis ended peacefully on the 28 th f October. These events can be seen as a consequence of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift because the blockade led to a further decline in the relationship between USA and the USSR, which paved the way for more conflict to take place. In conclusion the Berlin Blockade and Airlift was caused by the Yalta Conference, the American policy of containment and the growing mistrust and tension between USA and the USSR.
The consequences of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift were the major conflict and disruption the the everyday life of the people living in West Berlin, the NATO and Warsaw Pact created and the further decline in the relationship between USA and the USSR. The Berlin Blockade and Airlift was the fist major conflict of the Cold War. It paved the way for further conflicts between the super powers and was very close to becoming a nuclear war. For that reason the Cold War will always be remembered as an important piece of history.