Presentation on theme: "How did the Berlin Blockade worsen Superpower Relations? L/O – To identify the causes and effects of the Berlin Blockade 1948-49."— Presentation transcript:
How did the Berlin Blockade worsen Superpower Relations? L/O – To identify the causes and effects of the Berlin Blockade 1948-49
Problems with Berlin Berlin was deep inside the Soviet sector, yet it was divided between the four Allied powers (USA, USSR, Britain and France). Germany was now run by a joint Allied Control Commission. Berlin was run by a joint Allied Kommandatura. Each country differed as to how they felt Germany should be governed.
Rebuilding Germany After the war, Germany was crippled and each of the four occupation zones was in economic chaos. Stalin feared a recovering Germany. He wanted to keep it crippled. The West knew that Germany could not feed its people unless it could rebuild its industries. By 1947, the US and Britain combined their zones to form one ‘bizonia’. France joined in 1949 to form ‘Trizonia’.
Rebuilding Germany During 1948, it became clear that the USSR intended to turn its zone into a communist satellite state. Britain, France and the USA decided to firstly set up a German assembly to create a German constitution. They then introduced a new currency – the Deutschmark – which became the official currency of Trizonia. Germany was becoming permanently divided.
Stalin’s Opposition The new currency was a step too far for Stalin. It was seen as a real threat. West Berlin was a ‘window into the West’ for those living in the Soviet sector. The Western allies had invested heavily to help West Berlin recover. This showed those in East Germany the higher standard of living in the West. West Berlin was thus a continual embarrassment to Stalin – it was a showpiece of capitalism. He was determined to do something about it.
The Berlin Blockade Stalin could do nothing about these developments but he could stamp his authority on Berlin. Stalin hoped to prove that a divided Germany could not work in practice. So he blockaded Berlin in June 1948. He used the Soviet military to block off all supply routes (road, rail, canal) to Berlin, leaving the 2 million population of West Berlin stranded.
The Berlin Airlift The choice was taken to fly supplies in. This meant the Western Allies wouldn’t give into Stalin, but also wouldn’t provoke war. It placed pressure back on Stalin – he couldn’t just shoot down planes!
The Berlin Airlift For 11 months food and other supplies like coal were flown into Berlin by the Allies. Inhabitants of West Berlin depended on these flights for everything. In Winter 1948 they survived on dried potatoes, powdered eggs and cans of meat, with just four hours of electricity a day. 275,000 flights carried 1 ½ million tons of supplies. At its peak, 1 plane landed every 3 minutes and they had 7 minutes to unload. The airlift cost $100 million, and 79 servicemen who died in accidents.
Was the airlift a success? In May 1949, Stalin called off the blockade. It was a major propaganda victory for the West. The impact of the blockade should not be underestimated. It highlighted divisions between East and West – and made those divisions more permanent. Results of the Airlift Germany would now be split up into West and East Germany. Relations worsened – war had almost broken out. Arms Race – both sides focused on building nuclear weapons and conventional forces. NATO and the Warsaw Pact – defensive alliances would be set up.
After the Blockade The West set-up NATO in 1949. The ‘North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’ was a military alliance that offered mutual support in the event of an attack. The Warsaw Pact was set up in 1955 by the USSR. In May 1949 the Western Allies formal created the new Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) – West Germany. In October 1949, the USSR responded by creating the German Democratic Republic (GDR) – East Germany. The Blockade also led to an arms race. Stalin knew that he would need an atomic bomb to win any further conflicts. In 1949 the USSR created one.