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Berlin Blockade Essay Research Paper On June

Berlin Blockade Essay, Research Paper On June 26, 1948 the largest airlift began as the American and British forces began the Berlin Airlift. To understand how the airlift came to be, we have to look all the way back

Berlin Blockade Essay, Research Paper

On June 26, 1948 the largest airlift began as the American and British forces began the

Berlin Airlift. To understand how the airlift came to be, we have to look all the way back

to the Yalta Conference. The Yalta Conference began in February 1945 in which the three

superpowers, America, Russia and Britain, met to discuss the future of post war Europe.

America and Russia were emerging as the two superpowers, and their deteriorating

relationship would soon lead to many problems that would develop in post war Europe.

Yalta saw the beginning of this deteriorating relationship. First, Stalin put a communist

government in place in Poland. Poland had been the route that enemies had used to

invade Russia on three separate occasions and Stalin felt he needed a friendly government

in power. Stalin had agreed to hold elections in liberated countries following the war

which he broke when he established a communist government in Poland. Although the

U.S. and Britain had done the same thing when they put their own government in Italy

following their defeat, Stalin?s move in Poland still upset the other two superpowers. U.S.

still needed Russia?s help to fight the war in Japan so President Roosevelt had to be

careful not to upset Stalin. The communist government was allowed to stay in Poland but

the government was extended to include the Poles living in London that were suppose to

form the government. Stalin made sure that the communists always had the majority.

Also in an attempt to keep good relations with Russia, Roosevelt agreed to allow Russia

to remove ten billion dollars from defeated Germany. Also at Yalta, it was agreed that

post war Germany be divided into four occupational zones, which would become one of

the main problems leading to the Berlin Airlift. Russia was given the north east, the U.S.

was given the south east, Britain the north west, and France the south west. Berlin,

Germany?s capital, was also divided into four occupational zones but Berlin was located

in Russia?s zone of occupation.

Soon following the war in the Pacific, the relationship between the superpowers

would soon begin to deteriorate further leading up to the Berlin Blockade. Soon Russia

and France began removing items from their zones in Germany to help rebuild their

homeland that Germany had demolished. Germans living in these zones began to move

into the U.S. and Britain zones where life was much better. Before long the U.S. and

Britain could not afford to feed all the mouths moving in. Russia and France used their

hatred for Germany as their excuse for what they were doing but it soured the relationship

between the great powers. In the attempt of the U.S. and Britain to help rebuild the

economy of Germany they introduced a new currency, the Deutchmark, in U.S., Britain

and French zones. They got France to agree by supporting their reclaiming effort of

French-Indo China. Knowing that Russia would not agree with the new currency, they

were not consulted. This broke the rule that was set that anything that affected all of

Germany must be agreed upon by all zones. News also began to come out about the

formation of Bizonia, the joining of the U.S. and British zones. Stalin, upset over not

being consulted over the currency issue and the news of a Bizonia, saw this as a good

time to get the allies out of Berlin. ? The Soviets halted first auto, then barge, finally all

railroad traffic into the city, sealing off the western portion of Berlin controlled by

American, British, and French forces.?(www.germanyinfo.org)

President Truman, who took over from Roosevelt after he passed away, had one

of the most important decisions he would face as President. By moving into Russia?s

zone and trying to break the blockade using ground forces Truman would risk the

possibility of starting World War III. It was also an election year for Truman, the first he

had faced, and all eyes were watching him on this one. Truman?s decision would

eventually help him win the election. Truman, lacking the ground forces to punch through

a blockade and worried about starting World War III opted to go with the airlift to get

into Berlin. For the next 322 day, beginning June 26 1948, U.S. and Britain launched the

largest aerial resupply operation the world has ever seen. Major General Curtis E.LeMay

was commander of the Air Forces in Europe. At his disposal he had 102 C-47?s, each

with a cargo capacity of three tons and two of the larger C-54?s that could haul ten tons a

trip. ?The first day thirty-two flights by the C-47?s were flown carrying eighty tons of

cargo, mainly powdered milk, flour, and medicine.(www.fas.org.) Soon efforts were

stepped up as the U.S. increased their use by the C-47?s and reinforcement arrived as new

C-54?s were delivered to help. American officials soon realized that they would not only

have to deliver food but also coal to heat the Germans homes in the winter. Sine the bags

of coal would take up so much more room the airlift had to be stepped up and it was too

much for U.S. Air Forces in Europe. June 1 1948 the Military Air Transport Service was

formed and would become responsible for the airlift. The military Air Transport Service

was created by the merger of Air Force and Navy transport units. Selected to command

the Berlin Airlift was Major General William H. Turner, a veteran of arial supply lines

from India to China during World War II. General Turner did not arrive in Germany until

late July 1948 and his first goal was to speed up the delivery of the cargo. His attempts to

speed up the delivery would earn him the nickname of ? Willie the Whip?. General

Turner had set a goal to land a plane every minute day or night, which some crew

members came close to touching down a plane every three minutes. Supply delivers grew

from 500-700 tons a day in June 1948 to 12, 940 tons by April

1949.(www.germany-info.org) It was Easter Sunday, April 1949, that the system

delivered nearly 13,000 tons which set a record for a day?s tonnage and came to be known

as the Easter Parade. During the Easter Parade the equivalent of 600 railroad cars of coal

was delivered by the airlift.(www.fas.org.) The effort to deliver the amount of tonnage

they required teamwork by everyone involved. First, fuel and bulk cargo were sent by

ships across the Atlantic from U.S. to Germany. Once in Germany the cargo was shipped

to one of the U.S. Air Force airfields: two were in the American zone and two in the

British zone. Cargo from the American zone went to the Templehof Airfield and in the

British zone cargo went to Gatow Airport. The cargo was then loaded and flown into

Berlin by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Royal Air Force. The Berlin Airlift was only

successful because of the efforts of all parties involved. One of the most eagerly

anticipated items brought in was candy for the cities children. ?Operation Little Villies?

began when American flier, Lt. Gail S. Halverson had promised the children he would

bring them more candy on his next trip. Halverson told the children to watch for as he

would wiggle the wing of his plane to let them know it was him. Lt. Halverson kept his

promise by wiggling the wing of his plane and dropping candy attached to parachutes for

the eagerly anticipating children. His kindness earned him the nickname ?Uncle Wiggle

Wing? and word soon caught on as school children in the U.S. began candy collections

for the children of Berlin.

The Americans and British were well in their rights in using the airways into

Berlin so there was not much Stalin could do about it. Soviet forces harassed but did not

attack the cargo planes of the Anglo-American alliance. By the spring of 1949 it had

become obvious that the harassment tactics of the Soviets did not deter the American and

British efforts of bringing supplies into Berlin. Soon After the Soviet Union entered into

negotiations that would lead to an agreement signed on May5 1949 which would see the

blockade lifted. Diplomatic historian John Gaddis of Yale University said, ? It seems to

me it?s the first clear Soviet defeat in the Cold War. It?s the only thing that the Soviets

started and failed to finish.?(www.nandonet.com) The airlift would continue until

September 30 1949 as the U.S. and Britain built up a mass reserve of supplies in the event

that the Soviets reimposed the blockade.

Between June 26, 1948 and September 30 1949 more than 2.3 million tons of

cargo was delivered to Berlin. American pilots flew over 92 million miles in more than

189,000 flights before the 322 day ordeal would come to an end. Throughout the

blockade all eyes were on the superpowers and their leaders but when all was said and

done it was Stalin and the Soviets that blinked first. The Berlin Airlift is still remembered

today as one of the greatest feats in aviation history.

Beating the Berlin Blockade

1) LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1996. United States:

McGraw Hill 1997

2) Keylor, William R. The Twentieth Century World: An International History. New

York:

Oxford University Press 1996

3) ? Berlin Airlift? Barnes & Noble New American Encyclopedia. 1991 ed.

4) Internet . www.germany-info.org/gnew/airlift.htm

5) Internet. www. fas.org/man/dod-101/ops/berlin_airlift.htm

6) Internet. www.bbaa.clara.net/date.htm

7) Internet. www.nandonet.com

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