May 12, 1949 - Berlin Airlift

By Amy Sobocinski

Beginning June 24, 1948, the Berlin Airlift was the transporting of supplies to West Berlin from the United States. Following World War II at the Yalta and Potsdam Conference, Berlin was divided amongst the Soviets, Americans, French, and British. However, the Soviet sector, East Berlin, wished to have Berlin all to themselves. To do so, East Berlin closed multiple modes of land and water transportation to hopefully defeat all chances of the other sectors from getting food and supplies to their parts of the city.  Despite the blockade, the Harry Truman and the United States did not give up their area of land. However, the U.S. had to figure out a way in which they could provide supplies to West Berlin without causing violence or further conflict with the Soviets.

Soon after the blockade, France, Great Britain, and the United States decided to supply West Berlin through air transportation, thus, giving it the name of the “Berlin Airlift” or the “Air Bridge.” The Allies, thinking the Soviet’s land and water blockade would be short lived, planned for the airlift to last only a short time. Surprisingly, the Soviet’s remained solid in their blockade for over a year. As five to eight thousand tons of supplies were delivered by air each day, resulting in a total of 2.3 million tons of supplies by the end of the airlift.

As the Allies continued to support their portions of Germany, they showed their perseverance, dedication, and creativity in helping those under their country’s protection.  Furthermore, the Americans soon began to be seen as West Berlin’s heroes, with children looking forward to the treats given to them by “candy bombers” such as pilot Gail Halvorsen. Following the airlift, East and West Berlin officially divided, leading to further disunification between the Allies and Soviets. The split of Berlin as well as the building of the Berlin Wall symbolized the way in which democracy and freedom brought the cold war left a lasting impression of such.

 

“The Berlin Airlift: What It Was, Its Importance in the Cold War.” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Accessed May 29, 2020. https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Inside-DOD/Blog/Article/2062719/the-berlin-airlift-what-it-was-its-importance-in-the-cold-war/.

Pruitt, Sarah. “Why the Berlin Airlift Was the First Major Battle of the Cold War.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, June 27, 2018. https://www.history.com/news/berlin-airlift-wall-cold-war-blockade.