After the Allies defeated Nazi Germany in World War II, they divided control of the enemy nation among themselves. The capital of Berlin, which was in the middle of the Soviet sector of Germany, also was divided. The Western powers expected the Soviet Union to permit them free access to the city, but in June 1948, the Soviets blocked all routes into the western sector. In response, the Western countries organized a gigantic airlift to supply West Berlin. At the height of the project, which lasted until September 1949, supply planes landed in West Berlin every one or two minutes. An excerpt from The Post of June 27, 1948:
By Marguerite Higgins
Berlin, June 26 (NYHT) --
The British, with American support, today demanded that the Soviets lift the blockade that threatens hunger for the German population in the western sectors of Berlin.
The first official western allied protest to the Soviet military administration came as plans were being completed for the inauguration on Monday of an extensive air supply service to bring food to the Germans in Berlin and to stave off a food crisis.
The British protest was in the form of a letter from Gen. Sir Brian K. Robertson, British military governor, to the Russian military commander, Marshal V. Sokolovsky. The letter was concurred in by Gen. Lucius D. Clay, American military governor.
It is considered dubious in Berlin that any action on the level of General Clay and General Robertson can at this point do much good, as the situation has gone too far. In view of observers here, a protest to the Soviet Union at the Washington-Moscow level, backed by diplomatic sanction, is likely to be the only measure with any possibility of effect.
Meantime, the Communist newspaper tipped the Russian hand as to its plan for Berlin. For the first time the paper revealed that final plans had been drawn up whereby the Russians could supply all the city -- that is the western sectors also. Up until now the Soviets have been deterred from putting the final heat on the Allies in their campaign to oust them from the city by one simple fact. This was that the surrounding Soviet zone did not have enough food to supply the western sector hitherto sustained by western Allied imports.
In its first weekend of complete blockade, Soviet power cuts and unprecedented nerve warfare, Berlin remained in a state of high tension.
And the continued deliberate Soviet attempts to panic the population reached its high point as the Russians, through a Communist mouthpiece, openly hinted at the use of armed force in the East-West struggle for Berlin.
Wilhelm Pieck, veteran Communist leader, said at a press conference: "Developments have been so fast that none can see how a peaceful settlement can be achieved if the western allies insist on staying in this city."
The Moscow-trained Communist added that "Berlin crises will not end until the western allies leave. I think and I hope that the western powers will soon see that they have gotten themselves into an impossible situation." . . .
The new American air supply armada, that will tax the facilities of the airfields to the utmost, is designed to stave off the time when dwindling reserves run out.
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