The Berlin Airlift

The war had only been over for three years, and already things were going badly.

The Soviets had reached Berlin first, and immediately set about exacting their revenge for Hitler’s ruthless 1941 invasion of Russia. Two months later, the Western Allies arrived, and the city was promptly divided into four zones of control: American, British, French and Soviet. The Western zones of Berlin suddenly found themselves isolated and surrounded on all sides, with an expansionist superpower breathing down their necks.

A plan had been put into place for the four zones to be administered jointly, however by 1948 negotiations had collapsed due to growing tensions between the parties. These tensions finally came to a head after a disagreement on what to do about the ailing Reichsmark, leading to the Soviets cutting all road and train access to Berlin from the West.

What followed was one of the first major stand-offs of the Cold War, as the capitalist West was forced to decide whether to engage with the Soviets and risk a return to armed conflict, or back down and show weakness to an increasingly hostile, expansionist state.

Post-war Europe was a time of great change, as the continent sought to rebuild itself after years of conflict. France was establishing its place in a new Europe, while Britain was busy forming its beloved National Health Service–but for Germany, recovery was going to be frought with challenges.

In this episode of The Gallimaufry, we discuss the events which led to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, the crisis it ensued, and the Western Allies’ plan to feed a city of over two million, isolated 100 miles inside enemy territory. So, without further Stalin, join us on a trip back in time to one of Berlin’s bleakest periods, with no David Hasselhoff to save the day!