What caused the Berlin Blockade?

Photograph of Joseph Stalin

Portrait of Joseph Stalin

Stalin was very aware that the western part of Germany was always going to be more prosperous and secure than the eastern zone.

He was worried that the West would take advantage of their stronger position and unite all their zones, and eventually take over the eastern part.

What were the Western Allies doing in Berlin that concerned Stalin?

  1. Using money from the Marshall Aid programme, the Allies were helping the Germans to rebuild their economy.
  2. They introduced a new, stable currency that would be used throughout their zones and they created jobs for workers in the Western sectors.
  3. At a meeting in London in January 1948, Britain and the USA joined their zones together to create Bizonia to make it easier to administer these areas. France would later join and they changed the name to West Germany. Stalin was not invited to this meeting in London. He was also denied access to the minutes of this meeting.

Consequences

On 24 June 1948, Stalin cut all land access to Berlin for the Allies. This became known as the Berlin Blockade.

Stalin did not intend to risk war over Berlin, and he did not intend to ‘drive the Allies out’.

More likely, his intention was to show that the Soviets also had power in Germany which could match the demonstrations of economic power and unity that the West had just shown.

He was using the Blockade as a lever to prevent any further western moves in Germany, rather than attempting some kind of communist takeover.