After the end of World War II, Germany was divided into an East and a West Germany, and Berlin, Germany’s capital, was divided in four sections, one American, one French, one British, and one Soviet. The Soviet Union was given West Berlin, which in size was the equivalent of half of all Berlin. This effort, known as the Berlin Airlift lasted for more than a year and carried more than 2.3 million tons of cargo into West Berlin. When the Allies closed in to Berlin, the Soviets took over the city by land and the U.S. and Britain by the air. Germany had been demolished by World War II and was weak. Subsequent to the end of the war, Stalin began implementing a pro-communist government all over Eastern Europe, however United States President Harry S Truman countered this “containmentship” with a mission to stop the spread of Communism throughout the world at any cost to eliminate this acquisition of unwarranted influence. The heavy toll of the war on Germany’s towns and cities forced the need to reconstruct what was damaged. In June 1948, the Russians–who wanted Berlin all for themselves–closed all highways, railroads and canals from western-occupied Germany into western-occupied Berlin.
Royal Air Force Dakotas (C-47 equivalents) deployed from the United Kingdom to Germany and flew their first missions into Berlin (6.5 tons for the British garrison). On June 28, the Air Force ordered C-54s from Alaska, Hawaii, and the Caribbean to Germany to reinforce the airlift. These were the first U.S. and British cargoes for Berliners. On May 12, 1949, the Soviets lifted the blockade and by Sept. 30, 1949, the airlift ended.
This, they believed, would make it impossible for the people who lived there to get food or any other supplies and would eventually drive Britain, France and the U.S. out of the city for good. Another major problem was supplying enough food to provide for the German people. The Soviets stopped the transport and put a blockade between East and West Berlin. This made it impossible for the Germans to have a capitalist government. Truman had troops in Berlin under control by General Clay. In order for the West to give a glimpse of what a capitalist like society was like they would drop American products such as a Hershey’s Bar. He sent troops in tanks to intimidate the Soviets and test if they’d fire. They didn’t, so Truman asked Britain how much it would cost for Berlin to survive. Planes would be three minutes apart to separate plans and bring supplies in at a dramatic speed. This act of humiliation against the Soviets by the Capitalist West diminished the occupation of the Soviets in East Germany. All the Soviets could do was watch because firing at these American transport convoys would only ignite a war that was not worth the cost of attacking unarmed planes.
A scheme the Soviets used directly after the fall of Nazi Germany was to offer a one months supply of bread, but in exchange the individual would have to sacrifice its citizenship with newly formed West Germany. Not many fell for this trick, but it goes to show how desperate people can be. The planes astonished the people and the pilots would drop chocolate to the children. The Soviets knew they could not stop or force the planes to go over West Berlin and finally opened the trains and highways. The Berlin Airlift gave the Soviet occupied people of East Germany hope that through everything they were given there was a better life on the other side of the Berlin Wall, but it is more than that, it was like a guardian angel.