Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 24: Berlin Airlifts

On this date in History .... June 24, 1948:

The first serious crisis of the Cold War happened when the Soviets blockaded Berlin from the west, stopping the flow of supplies to the city. 

Berlin had been divided up between the U.S., Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The western allies had started consolidating their occupied zones into “a single independent German state.”  The USSR was not happy with the idea of a strong Germany, since they had been invaded twice by that country. 

Seven U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 airplanes
unloading cargo at Tempelhof Airport,
Berlin, Germany during Operation Vittles
(Berlin Airlift).  Photo: U.S. Airforce
Imposing a blockade on West Berlin, cutting off all land/rail routes was described as “…. one of the most ruthless efforts in modern times to use mass starvation for political coercion... "  For almost a year, the Allies made 450 daily airlifts with food and supplies, preventing the over two million people from starving. 

The blockade actually backfired on the Soviets as the airlifts made the blockade moot and it provoked a real fear of war in the West.  Eleven months later, Stalin lifted the blockade.

Newsreel clip:

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