Causes

A map showing the allies' four zones of occupation in Germany after World War II

Ever since the Yalta Conference, it had been clear that Berlin was going to be a flashpoint in the Cold War, and this came to a head in 1948.

The Grand Alliance could not agree on a permanent united German state, and so the temporary zones of occupation had been created.

Stalin was concerned that the Western powers would force the creation of a single capitalist Germany, by joining their zones together and overpowering the East.

As a result, the first major crisis of the Cold War was over the future of Germany.

Conflicting policies

The USA, Britain and France knew that Germany would have to be supported economically if communism was to be resisted.

The allies wanted a strong, democratic Germany acting as a buffer against the communist states of Eastern Europe.

In contrast, Stalin wanted to: weaken Germany as a punishment for the war; help rebuild the USSR by stealing German industrial technology; make communism seem more attractive to the Germans.

These conflicting policies soon led to a crisis in international relations.