A2 History (Unit 3) IR 1945-2004 (4) Germany & NATO

Source: BBC History

Summary of the Berlin crisis

Youtube documentary ‘Germany 1948-49

How Germany was divided in 1945

In 1945, the Allies decided to split Germany into four zones of occupation. The capital, Berlin, was also split into four zones. The USSR took huge reparations from its zone in eastern Germany, but Britain, France and America tried to improve conditions in their zones.

In June 1948, Britain, France and America united their zones into a new country, West Germany. On 23 June 1948, they introduced a new currency, which they said would help trade.

The next day, Stalin cut off all rail and road links to west Berlin – the Berlin Blockade. The west saw this as an attempt to starve Berlin into surrender, so they decided to supply west Berlin by air.

The Berlin Blockade lasted 318 days. During this time, 275,000 planes transported 1.5 million tons of supplies and a plane landed every three minutes at Berlin’s Templehof airport.

On 12 May 1949, Stalin abandoned the blockade.

Causes and results of the Berlin Crisis of 1948

Important dates and events

Date Event
January 1947 Britain and the USA join their two zones together into Bi-zonia(two zones).
December 1947 London Conference: America, Britain and France meet to discussGermany’s future. Russia is not present.
January 1948 Russia starts to stop western literature being sold in the Soviet zone.
March 1948 The USA offers Marshall Aid. Stalin forbids Cominform countries to take part.
April 1948 Russia imposes a partial blockade of west Berlin – Allied transport into the city has to apply for a permit and is inspected.
1 June 1948 America, Britain and France announce they wanted to create anew country of West Germany.
23 June 1948 America, Britain and France introduce a new currency – this causes economic chaos in the Russian zone as everyone tries to get rid of their old money and change to the new currency.

Now consider this quote from the US commander in Berlin, General Clay:

When Berlin falls, Western Germany will be next. If we withdraw our position in Berlin, Europe is threatened… Communism will run rampant.

General Clay

Results of the Berlin Crisis of 1948

  1. Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) until 1990.
  2. The Iron Curtain became permanent.
  3. The Cold War broke out into open confrontation, and the two superpowers began an Arms Race.
  4. In 1949, the Allies set up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as a military alliance to resist Soviet Russia.

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