The Berlin Blockade
After 1945, Germany was still a problem…
It had only be split into four temporarily
Decisions about Germany were meant to be made jointly and
Germany was to be reunited in the future
Stalin wanted to keep Germany weak so refused to let his
zone trade with the others – the other 3 wanted to build
the GB and US zones operated as one and became known as Bizonia from 1947
the French zone also got on well with them – Trizonia
Berlin had also been divided temporarily – but travel between the zones was easy, e.g.
you could live in one part and travel to work in another
So, if Germany was to be united, should a reunited Germany…
1. Be part of the USSR’s or the USA’s ‘sphere of influence’?
2. Be communist or capitalist?
3. Receive Marshall Aid?
4. Allow foreign troops to stay in the country?
1948 GB, USA and France agreed that in Trizonia, there would be a
German assembly to create a German constitution
new German currency – the Deutschmark
Stalin was angry as he had not been consulted and he believed that it was the first
steps to creating a permanently divided Germany - and he did not want this as…
1. Did not want the USA to have more influence over Germany
2. Did not want Germany to become a power again
He decided to react through Berlin as
1. West Berlin (the US/GB/French part) was very awkward for the Soviet Union and
East Germany - people behind the Iron Curtain could see what life was like in the
2. Made worse as West Berlin benefited from Marshall Aid – the USA made West
Berlin look as good as possible to make people in East Germany/Europe jealous
3. While the Allies were in Berlin, they would be able to see what the Soviets were
doing behind the Iron Curtain
Why was Berlin so important at the end of World War II?
Heart of Nazi power – Had been a race for
Berlin was the Berlin at end of war
symbolic capital of – USA vs. USSR.
Germany and Nazism.
Importance of Power and
prestige – both
Berlin USA and USSR
Geographical location –
USA and USSR keen wanted influence
for central European in Berlin – and
military bases. wanted to stop the
Jun 1948 Stalin set up a military blockade around West Berlin – closed all road, rail
and canal routes
To try and drive the allies out of West Berlin so he could have control of it
To split West Germany from its capital
Truman’s Response: The Berlin Airlift
determined the USSR not succeed in forcing the allies out of Berlin – would West
Germany be next?
allied (GB/US) planes transported supplies to West Berlin, e.g. food and clothes – would
Stalin shoot the planes down???
up to 5000 tonnes a day for 10½ months
one plane every 90 seconds
1. Stopped the blockade from working – Stalin was forced to give up in May 1949
2. First military conflict of the Cold War – and raised the possibility of real war in
3. Airlift was peaceful – so made Stalin look aggressive
4. Increased east-west rivalry
5. Propaganda success for the USA and failure for the USSR
6. West Germany (or Federal Republic of Germany (FDR)) was officially created in
Sept 1949 with capital Bonn – Allied troops to remain there for protection
7. East Germany (or German Democratic Republic (GCR)) was officially created in
NATO (and the Warsaw Pact)
Due to 2. above,
April 1949 NATO, or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, set up as a military alliance
between the USA and 13 European countries
Aims: 1. Europe: To ‘keep the USA in, and the USSR out’
2. All agreed that if any NATO country was attacked, all
members of NATO would come to their defence
3. US troops/aircraft stationed in western Europe to
protect them from possible attack
1955 West Germany was allowed to join NATO and, in response…
The USSR created the Warsaw Pact – a military alliance like NATO but of the USSR and
the eastern European countries
It increased the power of the
USSR over the eastern
European countries and led to
Soviet troops being placed in
these countries for their
The Warsaw Pact had more
soldiers than NATO and was
feared by them – but cost the
USSR vast sums of money to
Other Key Events
1949 The communists under Mao Zedong seized power in China – the USA feared
that communism might spread across Asia – the Domino Theory, e.g.
1950-5 North Korea (communist, supported by the USSR/China) fought South
Korea (non-communist, supported by the USA)
The Arms Race
Key features were that both sides had to:
1. Maintain a large army, navy and airforce
2. Develop increasingly deadly nuclear weapons – more and bigger with better
(3. Significant as the development of the bombs prevented a war in Europe, e.g.
1945 USA developed the first atomic bomb
1949 USSR developed an atomic bomb – so the USA began to develop the
1952 1st US hydrogen bomb
1953 1st Soviet hydrogen bomb
1955 1st Soviet SLBM (Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile)
1956 USA developed the U-2 spy plane
1957 1st Soviet ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile)
Soviets also launched the 1st satellite – Sputnik – the USSR could now
launch nuclear missiles from space
1958 USA’s 1st satellite
1961 1st man in space – USSR’s Yuri Gagarin
USSR detonated an H-bomb with more power than all the explosives used
by all the sides in WW2
1966 Soviet ABMs (Anti-Ballistic Missiles) developed
1968 US also developed ABMs… and MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targeted
1969 USA landed a space shuttle on the moon
1979 Soviets developed SS-20s and the US, Cruise Missiles
1983 The USA
We’re all MAD!
By 1961 Superpowers had hundreds of facing each other.
The had more but this not important as both could destroy each other
many times over…
The theory… having lots of weapons made the secure.
Because no one would attack anyone else as they knew they would also be .
This became known as .
or MAD ( ).
1. It would only take… one suicidal leader, one bad decision, one mistake to destroy
2. 1957 American crashed in Norfolk and the fire from
it nearly set off 2 nuclear bombs.
3. 1962 US missile station thought one of was a
Soviet missile and was within minutes of starting a nuclear war…
4. 1950s/60s Many were scared of
the world coming to an
end. Many hated the