Source 4: Letter from an American citizen to President Truman

Download 32.38 Kb.
Size32.38 Kb.
Berlin Blockade: Stalin blocked all road, river and rail traffic into Western-controlled West Berlin. This cut all essential supplies to West Berlin. The West responded by airlifting supplies to West Berlin beginning June 21 and counter-blockading East Germany. The blockade ended after 321 days.

Source 1

Source 2: Extracts from the minutes of meetings of the British Cabinet in 1948, covering discussions of the early stages of the Berlin Blockade

Source 3: Extracts from the final report of the British Air Ministry on the Berlin Blockade, published in 1950

1 The blockade of Berlin was the result of a situation which developed mainly as a consequence of decisions made during the war. It was the climax of one phase of a planned and deliberate attempt by the Russians to force the Western allies out of Berlin.

4 The Potsdam Agreement consisted of a comparatively short statement of principle and was not a statute book for the government of Germany. Consequently, co-operation and good faith on the part of the allies was required in co-ordinated and effective government of Berlin was to be obtained. Unfortunately, the Russian attitude prevented this.

5 Owing to this lack of collaboration, the four power control of Berlin was bound to fail and gradually the administration of the Eastern and Western sectors of the city grew farther apart until the sectors became virtually two separate cities with separate city governments and separate police forces. The split between the two sectors was made complete by the Allied currency reform which was introduced in June 1948. This was caused by the Soviets refusal to co-operate and resulted in each sector having a different currency.

Source 4: Letter from an American citizen to President Truman

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,


From the Los Angeles Times

September 12, 1948

West Can Pull Out of Berlin Proudly


With the current rapid sequence of events in Berlin bordering on the fantastic, there are still a few optimists clinging to the hope that a mutually satisfactory arrangement will eventually be reached between Washington and Moscow. How this will happen and on what terms, nobody so far seems to be able to indulge.

The struggle for supremacy in the ruined German capital continues unabated with the anti-communist elements in the majority, but with the Communists enjoying the fullest support of the Red army and its Berlin leaders.


After the recent repeated meetings between the three western representatives and Stalin the hope was expressed that the Berlin blockade was about to be lifted. Yet not only the blockade continues but even our air communications between the western zones and the capital are now placed in jeopardy, with the Russians intent upon severing that last link between the American, British and French zones of Western Germany and their Berlin sectors.
At the same time the seizure of the Berlin City Hall by the Communists appears to be only a matter of time, all our protests notwithstanding.
When that happens, as it is most likely, not to say certain, to happen, the position of the western powers will be far more difficult than it is now.


Russia is holding the trump cards in Berlin and will only give in at a price that may prove too high for the western powers to pay. Besides, any bargain that one may strike with Moscow today by grants of credits, shipment of free goods, acceptance of Communist control of Berlin, elimination of all currency except the Russian-sponsored mark from Berlin, can at best be only temporary.
No-one expects Stalin to live up to his commitments a month, a week or a day after he has given them. In which case one may well ask, why make the concessions to the Russians in the first place?
This question is more than a diplomatic and political conundrum: it is one of peace and tranquillity in Germany and in Europe … it may well prove to be one between war and peace.
Even a most superficial study of the recent activities and attitudes of Russia in Berlin will convince any sensible person that Moscow is staging an intensive effort to drive the western Allies to despair and hence to a declaration of war, in which the Americans, the British and French will be branded the aggressors. This is the sort of trap that Stalin has set for the west and the west should be very careful not to play into Stalin's hands.
This is the eleventh hour of the crisis between the east and west, but it is not too late to take a supreme decision that may not entirely save the faces of Washington, London and Paris but will save the peace of Europe which is by far the most important. The longer the division of Berlin into four sectors continues and the longer the western allies remain there as targets of constant humiliations by the Soviet power, the greater the danger of an explosion that will plunge Europe and the world into another conflict.


The western Allies can pull out of Berlin proudly and with every evidence of dignity and get back to their own zones on the excellent ground that co-operation with Russia is no longer possible. They can then establish their military, economic and political front along their Russian border and meet the Soviets on better than even terms.
When the westerners have made that decision, they should supplement it with the withdrawal of their Ambassadors from Moscow, leaving their Embassies in charge of minor officials for the transaction of routine business alone. At the same time the Soviet Ambassadors shall be told that their presence in Washington, London and Paris is no longer desired.
One might object that such a move will be tantamount to the breaking of diplomatic relations, in which case it is well to be reminded that for all practical purposes such relations between the western powers and Russia have long been nonexistent.

Source 5: One day's work during the Berlin Airlift


Subject: Operation PLAINFARE



PERIOD ENDING: 1200hrs 24 Jan 49



a. Service Account

Civil Account




Crd Coal


Tons in sorties of A/C





290 84 DAKOTAS


b. Split of Commodities


Tonnage received during previous 24 hrs















Special Includes


18.7 Tons



















B/f yesterday
















German Merchandise: 2 Tons





Source 6: A cartoon produced by an American pilot serving in the Berlin Airlift


Source 1:

  1. What does this map tell you about communications links between West Berlin and the Western zones of Germany?

  2. Does this map help you to see why Stalin decided to blockade Berlin?

  3. Do you think this map was drawn up mainly to help the military, the politicians or civilians? Explain your answer.

  4. If you were in charge of getting supplies to Berlin by air, what would be the main problems facing you?

Source 2:

  1. What are the main challenges which appear to be facing the British officials in Berlin?

  2. Which would you say were the most serious?

  3. According to this source, is there any doubt about who is responsible for the clash over Berlin?

  4. What evidence does this source provide about conditions for civilians in West Berlin?

  5. What evidence does this source provide about conditions for civilians in West Berlin?

  6. In the final sentence of this extract the British official says it would be useful to be able to tell people that 'the Russian authorities were to blame for any inconvenience or suffering'.

    1. What does this suggest about the extent to which people in West Berlin knew what was happening?

    2. Why do you think the British government have so far stopped the British officials from giving out this information?

Source 3:

  1. Choose two examples listed in this document of Russian 'bad faith'.

  2. What was wrong with the Potsdam Agreement?

  3. Explain how the introduction of a new currency would have caused the split.

  4. Do you think this is a reliable source of information on the causes of the Berlin Blockade? Explain your answer.

  5. Imagine you were in the British Cabinet and this report was being presented to you. Make a list of 3 questions you would want to ask the official who was giving the report.

Source 4:

  1. According to the letter, how has President Truman been stupid?

  2. How does the writer describe Stalin?

  3. Make a list of the ways which show you that the writer is a critic of Truman.

  4. Is there any evidence that the writer is pro-Stalin or the USSR?

  5. How do we know this writer is genuinely afraid that there will be a war?

  6. How reliable is this source to the historian as:

    1. a guide to the events of the Berlin Blockade?

    2. a guide to how people in the USA felt about the events of the Berlin Blockade?

Source 5:

  1. How many aircraft flew on this day?

  2. What did they transport?

  3. Look at Source 5 again. What you can infer from the source about:

    1. the materials West Berlin needed most

    2. the problems in transporting these goods

    3. the strains on the aircraft and pilots.

Source 6:

  1. Who is the old man?

  2. Why is the small boy so puzzled?

  3. What does this cartoon tell us about the airlift and its importance to the people of West Berlin?

  4. Is this a political cartoon?

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page