The Berlin Airlift
Ages 9 to 12
Compass Point Books, 2007, 0-7565-2024-X
It is hard to imagine today, now that Berlin is a thriving and free city, that there ever was a time when the city was divided and when its people were having to live under the protection of four different governments. And yet this was the state of affairs at the end of World War Two. France, England, the United States, and Russia had divided Berlin, and Germany, into four parts or zones. The United States wanted to see Germany rebuilt under the Marshall Plan and united as a Democratic country. This did not sit well with Russia’s Joseph Stalin who wanted Germany to become a Communist Country and a kind of tug-of-war ensued between the former Allied countries and Communist Russia.
In spite of Russian objections the British, French and American zones were combined to form one country which was called West Germany. In retaliation Stalin decided to create a blockade around the city of Berlin. Stalin’s troops would not allow any kinds of supplies to get to the German citizens in the western sector of the city. President Truman did not want to use force to break the blockade because he did not want to risk a war breaking out. At the same time he did not want to leave the people in West Berlin without food or water or coal. So it was decided to send in supplies by air.
Thus began an airlift unlike any other before or since. The American’s called their part of the airlift Operation Vittles and the British called theirs Operation Plain Fare. Planes flew in and out day and night and all together 2.3 million tons of food and supplies were flown into West Berlin. Life under the blockade was still hard for the people in West Berlin and knowing that there were people on the outside who cared about them helped boost the morale of the people trapped in the city.
The airlift ended in September of 1949 and though it was not a violent encounter, it was nevertheless an important stepping stone in what would be called the Cold War.
This well written title clearly shows how events during and directly after World War II led to the conflict which brought about the Berlin airlift. Readers will see how the tussle for power between the Allies and Russian began and how it expanded from the problem of Germany to become the Cold War. Maps and annotated photographs can be found throughout this book which is one of the titles in the “We the People” series.
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