In the wake of World War II, as the dust of battle settled over Europe, a new struggle began to arise—a struggle not of bullets and bombs but of ideologies and influence.
The world was entering the era of the Cold War, and the first major confrontation of this ideological battlefront was the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949. This remarkable episode in history saw the United States and its Western allies defy a Soviet blockade to keep West Berlin alive, and it played a pivotal role in shaping the geopolitics of the post-war world.
Berlin’s Crucial Role in a Post-War World Divided
At the end of World War II, Germany was divided and occupied by United States, British, and Soviet forces. The city of Berlin situated deep inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany, was also split, with the Western Allies controlling the western part and the Soviets the eastern. But as the wartime alliance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union crumbled and friendly relations turned hostile, the future of Berlin became a flashpoint for the Cold War.
The roots of the Berlin Airlift can be traced back to June 24, 1948, when Soviet forces blockaded all rail, road, and water access to Allied-controlled areas of Berlin. It was a bold move aimed at testing the resolve of the Western Allies and, more importantly, to gain complete control over the city.