Q:

Why was the Berlin Airlift important?

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Quick Answer

The Berlin airlift was important because it prevented West Berlin from falling into the control of the Soviet Union after World War II. The Soviet Union was blockading the parts of Berlin that were occupied and administered by the United States, Great Britain and France. The airlift was the only means of transporting food and other supplies to the besieged inhabitants of the city.

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When World War II ended, Germany and its capital city of Berlin were divided into four zones of occupation. Berlin was located deep within the Soviet-occupied zone, though some sectors of the city were under allied control. According to the History Channel, the Soviets objected to the efforts of the Western Allies to reunify Germany and create a single currency for it. In protest and hoping to drive out the Western Allies, the Soviets blockaded Berlin by cutting off all road, rail and water links with West Germany. Instead of withdrawing, the Western Allies initiated the airlift, which lasted from June 1948 to September 1949. During this time, the airlift delivered about 2.3 million tons of supplies to West Berlin.

Though the Soviets lifted the blockade in May of 1949, the Western Allies continued the airlift until September to ensure sufficient supplies in case the blockade was reinstated. The blockade turned out to be a failure, says the History Channel, as it hastened the creation of West Germany, escalated the Cold War and spurred the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How was the Berlin blockade related to the Cold War?

    A:

    The Berlin blockade was related to the Cold War because it was a non-military struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States, Great Britain and France for control of West Berlin. The successful airlift of supplies into West Berlin was a significant propaganda victory for the Western Allies.

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  • Q:

    When did the Berlin Wall fall?

    A:

    The traditional date marking the fall of the Berlin Wall is Nov. 9, 1989. On this day, the government of East Germany allowed people to cross freely into West Berlin. The government removed some portions of the wall to create more crossings.

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  • Q:

    Why did the Cold War end?

    A:

    The Cold War ended when Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union. After taking control of the country in 1985, he set about reforming governmental policies. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is often viewed as the symbolic end of the Cold War.

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    What caused the end of detente?

    A:

    Two of the primary causes of the end of the United States' policy of detente towards the Soviet Union were the election of Ronald Reagan to the U.S. presidency in 1980 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The policy of detente, an attempt to relax Cold War tensions promoted by the previous administrations of presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, was viewed as one of appeasement after the Afghanistan invasion and the policy was deemed both a strategic and a moral failure. It was President Reagan's intention to negotiate with the Soviet Union, which he famously referred to as an "evil empire," strictly from a position of strength.

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