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Airlift to Berlin

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Airlift to Berlin by Herminne Tonita -

By 1948 the Western Allies were eager to rebuild the German economy. Without German industrial production and German customers for their goods other European nations were finding it very difficult to revive their own economies. But before this problem could be solved, something had to be done about German money. In 1948 this was almost worthless. An ordinary factory worker then earned between 75 and 100 marks a week. One cigarette would have cost 25 marks.

In June 1948, the Western Allies announced that in their zones they were calling in all the old money and making a fresh start with new currency. The Russians were furious. Stalin's Foreign Minister, Molotov, had already attacked the Western Plans to rebuild Germany's industries. Now he complained that the curr ency scheme was a "plan" to "convert" western Germany into a base for extending the influence of American imperialism in Europe."

On June 24, 1948, a few days after the new money cam into use, the Russians stopped all traffic between West Germany and West Berlin. To start with they may have intended simply to persuade the Western Allies to change their economic policies. But soon they became more ambitious. They blocked all the roads, railway lines and canals between Berlin and the western zones of Germany. Their aim now was to make it impossible for the Western Allies to supply the two million people living in their sectors of Berlin with sufficient fuel and food. They hoped that this would force the Western troops and officials to go, leaving the city to the Russians.

The leaders of the United States and Britain felt they could not accept defeat in this matter. They decided to send in everything Berlin needed by air. Fleets of American and British planes began to fly in supplies. This "airlift" went on for almost a year. On its busiest day nearly 14,000 aircraft landed on the city's airfields. Over two million tons of supplies were delivered, including a daily average of 5,000 tons of coal.

By the end of 1948 the Russians knew they were beaten. In February 1949, secret talks began and in May Stalin stopped the blockade.

The Berlin blockade finished all hope of uniting Germany under one government. In 1949 the Western powers joined their zones together to form the Federal German Republic, or West Germany. Stalin replied by turning the Russian zone into the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany.
Airlift to Berlin written by Herminne Tonita for FamousWhy.com
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Tags: airlift, berlin, germany, 1948, 1949, german economy, stalin



Category: Education  - ( Education Archive)

Date Added: 24 June '07


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