Background to the Berlin Airlift

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Name: __________________ Period: ____ Date: ______________

Background to the Berlin Airlift

Post war Germany was divided into three sections—half was controlled by the United States, Great Britain and France [capitalist], while the other half was part by the Soviet Union [communist]. The single country of Germany was split into two separate countries: West Germany and East Germany. The capital city of Berlin, although located in the eastern Soviet half, was also divided into four sectors—West Berlin occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France and East Berlin occupied by the Soviet Union. In June 1948, the Soviet Union attempted to take control of all of Berlin by stopping road traffic to and from the city of West Berlin. This became known as the Berlin Blockade. The Soviet Union thought they could gain control by starving the people of Berlin and cutting off their business and trade with West Germany. The Truman administration reacted with a continual, daily airlift which brought much needed food and supplies into the city of West Berlin. This Berlin Airlift lasted until the end of September of 1949, after the Soviet government gave up their plans to take control of West Berlin and lifted the blockade.


Document A

1. What is significant about the location of Berlin?

2. Why is Berlin in the Soviet occupation zone?


2335 Norwalk Avenue

Los Angeles 41, Calif.
September 12, 1948

President Harry S. Truman,

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir:

The so-called "Berlin Crisis" is entirely an outgrowth of your own incredible stupidity. When you attended the Potsdam Conference to arrange final details for the occupation of Germany, it was your duty to look out for American interests and insist upon the establishment of a corridor to the American Zone for ingress and egress to the city. This you failed to do. Possibly this was because Joe Stalin to be a "good old chap," as you expressed it some time ago. But I am inclined to think that you were just too dumb to know that such a corridor was necessary.

In the meantime, you seem to be willing and even eager to force this country into a war with Russia merely for the purpose of "saving face." If you do this, the blame for such a war will rest upon your own shoulders, and the blood of American boys butchered in this war will be on your head.

Read the enclosed article from the Los Angeles Times of September 12, and then perhaps even your feeble mind will grasp the fact that the Berlin Crisis can be solved without dragging the United States into war.

Yours truly,


Letter from an American citizen to President Truman

Document B

4. How does Philip Johnson assess the President's handling of the Berlin Crisis?

5. According to Mr. Johnson, what will be the result of President Truman's handling of the situation?


Document C

6. What indicates how determined the allies were to remain in Berlin?

7. What indicates that the Berlin Crisis was of concern to not just the United States, Great Britain, and France?

8. What is one possible outcome of this concern?

Document D

13. What does this tell us about the Berlin Blockade?

14. Why is milk a weapon?

ASSESSMENT Based Question:
Why was the Berlin Airlift successful at stopping the Soviet Blockade of West Berlin without going to hot war?

Write a response to the question using and citing a minimum of three documents. Your response should include an explanation of the policy of containment and background information to the Berlin Crisis.

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