The reaction of the Western Allies

Photograph of cargo planes dropping relief supplies in the Berlin Airlift

Photograph of cargo planes dropping relief supplies in the Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Blockade was the first serious clash between the members of the former Grand Alliance, and from this point, it was very clear that the Cold War had begun.

The Western Allies were not prepared to risk armed conflict with the Soviets to open the way to West Berlin. They decided that their sectors of Berlin would be supplied by air.

This became known as the Berlin Airlift and it lasted for eleven months until the Blockade was lifted in May 1949.

At the height of the Berlin Airlift, a plane from the Western powers landed at Berlin’s Templehof Airport every minute.

Keeping West Berlin supplied in this way cost the USA $350 million and Britain £17 million.

Similarly, Stalin was not prepared to use force to keep the Western Allies from supplying West Berlin by air, because he did not want to risk a war.

In May 1949, Stalin ended the blockade of West Berlin.

The allies were now determined to build up West Berlin as a showcase for capitalism.

Many Germans from the Soviet zone crossed into West Berlin.

The impact on relations

Germany and Berlin would remain a source of tension in Europe for the duration of the Cold War.

In April 1949, the USA, Britain and France officially announced the formation of the German Federal Republic (West Germany).

By 1949 there was a worldwide awareness of a Cold War.

Europe was now divided with the USSR controlling Eastern Europe and a state of permanent hostility now existed between it and the USA. The Berlin Blockade was a low point for international relations.

After the crisis of the Berlin Blockade in 1948-49, Europe became divided into two opposing armed camps - the US-backed NATO on one side, and the USSR Warsaw Pact, on the other.

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), formed in 1949, was an alliance of countries around the North Atlantic formed for their mutual defence.

All members agreed to go to war if any one of them was attacked.

The Warsaw Pact (formed in 1955) was an alliance of the communist countries of Eastern Europe formed in response to NATO.

NATOThe Warsaw Pact
Formed April 1949 May 1955
Aims To resist an attack by the USSR on the USA or its Allies in Western Europe, based on the principle of collective security and that an armed attack on one of its members was an attack on them all To resist an attack on the Soviet bloc by the USA or its NATO allies.
Members USA, UK, Canada, West Germany, Portugal, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg USSR, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, East Germany (GDR), Albania
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