The Origins of the Cold War and the Division of Germany.

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                       A6: SUPERPOWER RELATIONS, 1945-1990

The Origins of the Cold War and the Division of Germany

The Berlin Blockade

From June 1948 until May 1949, Joseph Stalin ordered that all traffic between West Germany and West Berlin should be stopped. He was able to close the road, canal and rail routes, but was not able to prevent the western allies, Great Britain, France and the USA from bringing supplies into West Berlin by air. The Berlin airlift lasted ten and a half months and one plane landed in West Berlin every ninety seconds.

Why did Stalin blockade Berlin?

The main reason for the blockade was that Great Britain and the USA had made it clear that they intended to rebuild the economy in their zones of Germany. In 1947 the British and US zones were joined together in ‘Bizonia’ and the French zone was added in 1948.

Stalin believed that Germany should be kept weak to prevent any risk of further trouble. He also wanted to get reparations from Germany to help rebuild the Soviet Union.

In 1948 the western allies announced that they were going to introduce a new currency in the west to help the economy get going again. This would mean that east and west would be separate economically.

West Berlin was a temptation to East Berliners. In the west the Marshall Plan was beginning to make life much better. Already East Berliners and East Germans were trying to escape to the west.

How did the Allies react?

They were determined that Stalin should not succeed. General Lucius Clay the US commander in Berlin said, ‘If West Berlin falls, West Germany will be next’.

Clay offered to fight his way out of West Berlin, but was ordered not to by Truman.

The Allies believed that if they gave in Stalin would behave as Hitler had in the 1930s. More and more countries would be taken over.

The Allies began to bring supplies into West Berlin by air. 4,000 tonnes were needed every day. Eventually they were bringing in 8,000 tonnes; even coal was brought in by plane.

More than 320,000 flights were made altogether and 79 pilots died.

In May 1949 Stalin gave up. It was obvious that the West was not going to give in so he ended the blockade.

NATO, the Warsaw Pact and the Arms Race

Many East Germans began to try to escape from the Soviet zone to the other three.

NATO was set up in 1949.

The Federal republic of Germany was set up in 1949.

What is NATO?

NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was set up in 1949 during the Berlin Blockade.

It was a sign that relations between the Superpowers were now so bad that some form of military alliance was necessary.

Thirteen countries joined in 1949, including Britain and the USA.

It led to US troops and aircraft being stationed in European countries to protect them against a possible attack by the countries of eastern Europe.

The most important aspect of the alliance was that if anyone of the member countries was to be attacked, all the others would immediately protect it.

Since 1949 most countries of western Europe have joined NATO and in the last years some of the former communist countries, such as Poland and Hungary have joined. Since the alliance was set up, none of the members has been attacked.

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The Federal Republic of Germany

After the Berlin Blockade the Allies decided to create the Federal Republic of Germany, with its capital at Bonn in the Rhineland. This became known as West Germany.

West Germany existed as a separate country from 1949 to 1990. It became a member of the UN and was admitted to NATO in 1955, although it was never allowed to have nuclear weapons. The Allies continued to occupy it and there are still British forces in Germany today.

In 1949 the Soviet Union also exploded its first atomic bomb. This led to an Arms ...

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