In June 15, 1948 the soviet authorities announced that the Autobahn, the highway connecting western Germany to Berlin, would be closed indefinitely “for repairs” Then, they halted all traffic from west to east and barred all badge and rail traffic from entering West Berlin. Thus began the blockade of Berlin.

       Western Allies stated withdrawal from the city was not an option.  They felt if they left, Communism would run rampart. President Harry Thurman agreed with the military commander and declared, “We will stay,” he said. Using military force to strike back against the soviet blockade seemed equally unwise. To cause an actual war over the Cold War would be a disaster and even worse than a nuclear war. Finding another way to support the city was now a challenge the Allies had to overcome..

       The Allies quickly solved the problem , they would supply their sectors of Berlin from the air . Allied cargo planes would use open air corridors over the Soviet occupation zone to deliver food, fuel and other goods to the people who lived in the western part of the city. This project ,code-named “Operation VITTLES” by American military, was known as the Berlin airlift 

“West Berliners called it the Air Bridge”

        The Berlin airlift was supposed to be a short-term measure but it lasted much longer, as the soviets refused to lift the blockade. For more than a year , hundreds of American, British and French cargo planes ferried provisions from western Europe to the Tempelhof (in the American sector ) Gatow (in the British sector and Tegel (in the French sector)  At the beginning of the operation, the planes delivered 5,000 tons of supplies to West Berlin everyday; by the end, these loads had increased to about 8,000 tons of supplies per day. The allies carried about 2.3 million tons of cargo in all over the course of the airlift.    Life in West Berlin during the blockade was not easy. Fuel and electricity were rationed, and the black market was the only place to obtain goods. Still most Berliners supported the airlift and their western allies.

         By spring of 1948, it was clear that the Soviet blockade of West Berlin had failed. It had not persuaded the West Berliners to reject their allies in the West, nor had it prevented the unification of a unified West German state.  The Berlin Airlift ended the blockade.. (The Federal Republic of Germany was established in May 1949), the Soviets lifted the blockade and reopened the city. The Allies continued the airlift until September, however because they wanted to stockpile   

         Most historians believe the blockade was a failure because in other ways, too. It increased Cold War tensions and made the USSR look to the rest of the world as a cruel and capricious enemy.  It motivated the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an alliance that still exists today..


And now for the rest of the story, It took until November 1989 for the soviets to realize the blockade was to costly for them to continue. The greater German Democratic party and Protestant church  held continuous protests wanting the same prosperity and freedom,   as   West Germany. Premier Gorbachev had taken Russia from Communism  to a Socialistic lifestyle. At  the request and urging of President Ronald Reagan the wall was finally torn down,   Berlin, Germany again, was a free and open city.



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