The Berlin Blockade and
the Division of Germany
1948 - 1971
Key Players in the Initial Division of
Key Players in the Division of
• At the end of World War II, (1945) the victorious allies: Great Britain, France, the United States
and the Soviet Union, split defeated Germany into four geographic zones.
• The victors originally agreed that Germany, and Berlin within it, would eventually be
reconstituted and become a single self-governing nation.
• Britain and the United States wanted a politically unified and industrially self-sufficient country.
• The French and Soviets wanted a politically weak Germany.
Meetings at Potsdam and Yalta to
divide Germany and Berlin
Key Players in the Division of
Key Players in the Division of
• The German capital Berlin, lying deep in the Soviet zone, was also split like Germany.
• The Western Allies occupied Western Germany while the Soviets occupied the East.
• The city was divided into four sectors: France, British, American and Soviet control.
• Twelve boroughs, including 2,250,000 people living in roughly 188 square miles, were placed in
the control of Britain, France, and the United States. This would become the western sector.
• The Soviets were given eight boroughs in the eastern part of the city, home to 1,100,000 people
in 144 square miles.
Soviet Union’s Sphere of
The Beginning of the Cold War
(Factors that Motivated Conflict)
• The Cold War refers to the conflict between the former allies of the war:
• 1) Soviet Union
• 2) Western Allies - USA, France, Britain, etc.
• Conflict arose when the Soviet's wanted to expand their sphere of influence and control,
and the West wanted to contain communism – Truman Doctrine
• The result was a constant conflict between the two sides with the globe as the
The Iron Curtain
The Marshall Plan
• The European Recovery Program (aka Marshall Plan) offered U.S. aid to nearly all European
• The Soviet Union and the nations in its sphere of influence refused the aid
• The Americans would have discovered the economic weakness of the Soviet Union if they
would have accepted the aid
• Marshall Plan investment stimulated the economy in the West
• In 1946, efforts in western zones focused on helping the German economy recover. This
angered the Soviets, and they accused the Western powers of violating the Potsdam agreements.
• Granted $12,500,000,000 to repair the economic damage of World War II.
The Berlin Blockade
• The Berlin Blockade began on June 24, 1948
• It signaled the end of cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union and the
beginning of the Cold War.
• Stalin viewed Western occupation of Berlin as a sore in the Soviet zone. He wanted the allies to
leave Berlin as they had hinted after the war.
• Americans did not approve of Soviet expansion into the West.
• The Blockade was installed by the Soviet Union in hopes of stopping the establishment of a
separate West Germany.
• The Allies had been promoting a more separate West Germany by disregarding the Potsdam
agreement between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union
The Berlin Blockade cont...
• Growing mistrust between the Western Allies (U.S., France, Great Britain) and the Soviet Union
prevented the formation of the unified nation as initially planned.
• On June 21, 1948, the three Western powers decided to unite their zones into a single unit and
announced currency reforms in their section of Germany. This was in violation of a previous
agreement that Germany was to be treated as a single economic unit.
• The Soviets thought it was a Western attempt to end the cooperative control of Germany and
feared a strong united Western sector.
• Soviets responded by announcing their own currency reforms on June 23 and imposed a blockade
on all road and rail traffic into Berlin from Western Germany.
Response from Western Allies
• The Americans and British decided to remain in occupation and to airlift supplies to west Berlin
to maintain life in the city
• The fear of Soviet expansion and communism played a large role in the US decision to mount
• It was a common American belief that if Berlin fell into the hands of the Soviets, Western
Germany and Europe would next
• Berlin gave the US a chance to test a new policy called containment: US would keep communism
at its present limits rather than trying to destroy communism where it already existed.
The Berlin Airlift
• The Western Allies airlifted 12 000 tonnes of goods a day. A minimum of 2,500 tonnes of coal
was required per day.
• On June 26, 1948, planes from all over the world were employed to begin an airlift to fly needed
food and supplies to the Berliners. The Soviets attempted to frighten away the Allied planes,
but the airlift continued.
In order to discourage the Soviets from shooting down
cargo planes, the Americans announced that they had
stationed B-29 bombers in Britain.
The End of the Berlin
• Stalin decided to end the blockade on May 12,1949 because of its ineffectiveness
• The Soviet Union did not gain the control it had hoped for
• The blockade was also becoming too expensive
• The Berlin crisis results in the formation of two separate governments:
• The Federal Republic of Germany in the West (FRG)
• The German Democratic Republic in the East (GDR)
Effects of the Berlin Blockade
• Western allies airlifted food into Berlin
• The people in Western Berlin lived a very contained life and depended on the supplies of the
• A division was created between the United States and the Soviet Union
• The FRG and the GDR were created officially separating Berlin
• The conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union grew
Causes of The Berlin Wall
• Growing dissatisfaction with the economic and political conditions in the East under communism
• An increasing number of people were leaving the GDR (160,000 refugees in 1961)
• The Soviets (Khrushchev) delivered Berlin an ultimatum demanding the Western allies to
withdraw their troops from West Berlin
The Berlin Wall
• Dividing barrier between East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989
• Built by the communist government of East Germany to keep East German citizens from
escaping to the West.
• Initially blocked off with barbed wire and antitank obstacles.
• People living in Eastern Berlin were not allowed to enter West Berlin
• Reaction by the United States was moderate as US policy regarding Berlin was not affected:
presence of allied troops, free access to Berlin and self-determination of the West Berliners was
The wall stood for 28 years
and was a symbol of the
repression that became
known as the Wall of Shame.
Effects of the Berlin Wall
• Divided the city
• Prevented freedom of movement and travel
• Resulted in the death of many people trying to pass the wall or escape East Berlin
• Caused an increase in violence and rebellion against the wall
Long Term symbolized the cold war
• It represented and
• Increased tension between the different people and the different countries ( United States and
100 + people were killed at the wall when they tried to escape to West Berlin. This cross is a memoria
to all those who tried to pass the Berlin Wall.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of the Cold War. Germany was finally
re-unified as the attention of the Soviet Union turned inward to deal with its terrible
economic and political problems. On July 1 1990, an economic, monetary and social union
between East and West Germany was formed.