• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12

To what extent was Stalin to blame for the Berlin crisis 1948-9?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent was Stalin to blame for the Berlin crisis 1948-9? Several factors have a role to play in causing the Berlin crisis - the emerging Cold War, differing ideologies between the US and USSR, the Marshall Plan, formation of Trizonia and subsequent introduction of a new currency, the Deutschmark. However, Stalin, thorough his desire to oust the increasingly collaborating allies from Berlin, is largely to blame for the emergence of the Berlin crisis. Stalin's decision to launch the Berlin blockade was the first incident highlighting Cold War tensions. The Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, designed to contain the spread of communism, had clearly provoked Stalin, whom Judt views as "losing the initiative in Germany''1, Stalin believed Marshall Aid would lead to U.S economic domination and Western economic integration would undermine Soviet influence in Eastern Europe - his actions in causing the Berlin blockade were in part a defensive move to defend the Soviet bloc against this threat, which he was perfectly justified to do so. Roberts focuses on plans to create a separate West German state, established under 1948 London Programme, conflicting with Stalin's perspective of a "united, but peace loving and democratic Germany''2, and implies Stalin was "quite frank'' about his aim.3 Stalin couldn't control the decision to introduce the new Deutschmark into West Berlin, which Sewell places strong emphasis on being "the trigger'' for the crisis,4 but he could pressure West Berlin. There are several examples to validate Sewell's argument. By pressuring West Berlin, Williamson focuses on Stalin's aim of forcing the Western allies to "reconsider the whole German question''5, as well as protecting the East German economy from financial ruin by stopping their zone being swamped with devalued Recihsmarks, validating Sewell's argument on currency issues being the trigger for the crisis. Several historians, including Zubok and Pleshakov, McCauley and Sewell all acknowledge the fact that Stalin "had no risk to wish war"6 over Berlin, however by June 1948 Trizonia's continuing economic integration, heightened by the Deutschmark's introduction on ...read more.

Middle

Whereas Stalin wanted a buffer of friendly states, and a repeat of the crippling reparations seen in Versailles, the Americans wanted a democratic, capitalist Germany as a trade partner strong enough to halt the spread of communism. Once Germany and its capital had been divided into four, conflict was inevitable, the two superpowers had achieved their shared aim of defeating Hitler and ideologies were far too differing, especially concerning the economy. Economic policy such as Marshall Aid and introducing the Deutschmark were clearly designed to affect the Soviet economy, and subsequent Soviet actions ultimately led to conflict. This inherent conflict between Russia and America meant that the two sides could never permanently resolve their differences. That is why the West could only contain Soviet expansionist efforts, and partially explains why the Berlin crisis occurred. Despite Stalin's actions being the catalyst for the Berlin crisis unfolding, Stalin and his regime were not solely to blame. The actions of both the Americans and the British in ensuring Western occupied territory did not slip behind what Churchill famously described as the 'iron curtain' had an impact; however Zubok and Pleshakov place emphasis on political parties such as the SED who also pressured Stalin into acting. Leading SED politician William Pieck had grave concerns the next elections in Berlin could end in "a humiliating defeat'' for his party, and that such a result could be averted "if one could remove the allies from Berlin''. Stalin responded to this claim by stating "Let's make a joint effort, perhaps we can kick them out''14. The prospect of communist authority being challenged from within the Soviet zone raised considerable fear not only for the Soviets, but for SED leaders, this is a good example to validate their argument. Western demands for free elections and competitive markets seemed unnecessary and dangerous to both Moscow and the SED.15 McCauley also focuses on Stalin's emissaries in Berlin who reported they "expected the airlift to fail''16, which may have put further pressure on Stalin to ...read more.

Conclusion

Bevin was "alarmed at the waxing of communist influence''23 and consistently worked to undermine Soviet ambitions for German unification, rejecting proposed agreements at the 1947 Moscow Conference, the last American effort to fully cooperate with the Russians, however McCauley goes on to argue other events had a greater significance, namely the incompetence of Stalin and the Soviet regime. Bevin believed that Stalin wished to make the whole of Germany communist, in 1948 Prime Minister Atlee approved a foreign office paper, to be used in preliminary discussions with the Americans and which Ovendale implies to be ''endorsed by Bevin''24. Ovendale's argument focuses on this paper which stated the Soviets "had established themselves solidly in Eastern Europe, and from that secure entrenchment they were trying to infiltrate the West''24. Bevin, like most of the West, failed to understand how badly Russia had suffered during the war, mistaking Soviet fears of a resurgent capitalist Germany. Ovendale focuses on Bevin's preparation to accept division within Europe "as early as 1946'', but ''it had to appear that the Russians were to blame''24, There are several limitations to Ovendale's argument as Stalin's actions meant this was unnecessary, however it does established Bevin was prepared to take action himself. Despite primarily being Stalin's fault, Britain is not blameless in causing the Berlin crisis. However since Britain was a main beneficiary of Marshall Aid, they were in debt to America. Britain's role amounted to little more than supporting the Americans, and has a very small role in causing the Berlin crisis, despite putting more pressure on Stalin. The Berlin crisis of 1948-9 was ultimately the fault of Stalin. Despite having legitimate concerns to the re-emergence of a capitalist Germany, heightened by American anti-communist action such as the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, his actions far outweighed the circumstances. Despite pressurisation from his Soviet regime, communist parties within the satellite states, and the Western Powers, Stalin's actions were the main catalyst for the crisis unfolding. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. To what extent were germany to blame for the outbreak of ww1

    Historians argue the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand was nothing to do with Germany therefore as a country it had no need in which to get involve. Unless of course, war was always there intention. This is yet another piece of evidence that suggest German was a cause of WWI; she seemed to thrive on causing endless disputes and unrest.

  2. To what extent was Hitler solely responsible for the Holocaust

    The fact that so many people supported Hitler's anti-Semitic polices meant that it was easy for Nazi-party activists to carry out the will of the Furher, without any protest. The opposing view put forth by German scholar Marliss Steinart has been that only very few people 'new about the monstrous

  1. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    that could have made unnecessary the total ideological bipolarization that evolved by 1948. In short, if the primary goals of each superpower had been acknowledged and implemented-security for the Russians, some measure of pluralism in Eastern European countries for the United States, and economic interchange between the two blocs-it seems

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    Gemayel's brinkmanship was vindicated. The IDF massed forces on the Golan Heights and threatened to go to war to preserve the Maronite community. To emphasize the point, Israeli jets overflew Syrian positions. The threat worked, and Syria withdrew its troops.

  1. The Cold War was the result of Stalin adopting a policy contrary to the ...

    Following the air raid against Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, Hitler promptly declared war against the United States. The United States, unlike Russia, was pushed into the struggle following an invasion. The USA desired to stabilise the power in Europe by safe-guarding an equilibrium against those who wished to destroy it.

  2. Who or what is to blame for the start of the cold war?

    These points support the Revisionist view. Both in diplomatic historian Herbert Feis' From Trust to Terror: The Onset of the Cold War 1945-1950 and Hungarian professor of history John Lukacs' A History of the Cold War, there is ample evidence that these divergent attitudes exhibited by each country prevented the

  1. Indian History. To what extent did large dams built before 1990 fulfil Nehru's ambitions?

    Moreover, the 1984 Land Acquisition Act meant that the government was only legally bound to supply cash compensation, which was often below the market value of the land. Furthermore, few of the uprooted were adequately resettled (Bandyopadhyay, Mallik, Mandal, & Perveen, 2002, p.

  2. The emergence of the Superpowers 1945-1962

    Soviet response was to build its own nuclear weapons for security in 1949. o How and why did the USSR expand into Eastern Europe and what were the consequences for Superpower relations? 6th March 1946 Churchill made his 'Iron Curtain' speech and Stalin's response presented a benign Soviet Union that was seeking Eastern European allies to help Russia's security needs.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work