The Berlin Airlift

Ty Termaat

What was the Berlin Airlift?

When World War II ended, Germany was split into four zones, a Soviet zone, a United States zone, a British zone, and a French zone. Each of these zones had their own controlled governments and styles. The capital city of Berlin was in the Soviet zone, but it too was divided into four sections. The Soviets however, wanted it all for themselves. They began to cut off all supplies from the outside world and they shut down Berlin. They hoped this would stop food and resources from entering and that the other three nations would be forced to give it up. However, the allies instead flew in resources with airplanes. This occurred for an entire year. 2.3 million tons of resources were flown in and then the airplanes flew out and prepared for a trip back. This became known as the Berlin Airlift.
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This is an image of the Berlin Airlift. This plane is flying over Berlin and dropping supplies down to the people from the rear of the aircraft.

How did the blockage of Berlin start?

The Russians disagreed with the allies in that Germany should be reunified. They wanted West Germany (their zone) to be its own country. And if this were to happen, Berlin was not to be the capital. The Soviets began their blockade by saying that the Autobahn (the highway entering Western Berlin) was closed due to repairs. They then stopped all traffic, trains, and barge traffic heading into the city. The shut down had begun, now their hopes were to starve the allies out of Berlin and they could take it for themselves, this would not be the case however.

The Berlin Airlift

From June 15, 1948 to May 12, 1949, this operation occurred. Cargo planes from America, Britain, and France would land in their sections of Germany. They then would load up the cargo, and then they would fly over Western Germany, and their cargo planes would drop the supplies down for the people. This was the smartest way to get the people what they needed because if they backed out and gave Berlin to the Soviets, communism would continue to spread. And if they attacked the Soviets or their blockade in Berlin, a war, or nuclear war could very easily start. Flying in the cargo was the best and safest option. During the beginning of the airlift, around 5,000 tons of supplies were dropped every day. By the end, around 8,000 tons of cargo was dropped daily.
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These airplanes above are loading up cargo and getting ready to fly over Berlin.

The Ending of the Berlin Airlift

The Soviets kept the blockade for a long time, but after a while, it was seen that the airplanes would continue to fly over even if this thing continues. On May 12, 1949, the blockade was lifted and Western Berlin was free. The roads, canals, and trains were all reopened and up for public use. However, the Allies kept the airlift going until September of 1949 because they wanted to make sure this wouldn't start up again. And if it did, they wanted the people of Western Berlin to be as prepared as possible with as many supplies as they could get.
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The people in the image above are waiting for supplies and cargo from the planes that are flying overhead.


Many people believe that while the Berlin Airlift was a success in the moment as the Allies did not have to give up Western Berlin, that in the long run, it made things worse. This increased tensions between the Allies and the Soviets as the Soviets now saw that all three of the opposing nations were together still and had the same enemy. It also made the Soviets look cruel and horrible.

My Reaction

Overall, I enjoyed learning about the Berlin Airlift. I had never heard about this operation until class a few weeks ago and it interested me immediately. I think it is amazing that these planes did not stop dropping in supplies for an entire year! It also makes me wonder though, did the Soviet troops in the area try and do anything to stop the airlift? Did some of them take supplies so the citizens couldn't have them? Lastly, I think it is really interesting that the Soviets made this move in the first place. They didn't need Western Berlin and they didn't need Germany. They should have just made a treaty of some sort with the Allies saying that Germany can never reunify. Instead they just made things worse in the long run by putting a year long blockade on Berlin.

Works Cited

Beck, Roger B. Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2003. Print.

"Berlin Airlift." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

"The Berlin Airlift-June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949." The Berlin Airlift-June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

"Berlin Airlift." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

"Stalin's Blockade and Berlin Airlift." Stalin's Blockade and Berlin Airlift. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.