Berlin Airlift - Consequences

Despite the airlift people living in West Berlin did not have an easy time especially during the winter months. There were drastic power cuts, food was strictly rationed and fresh vegetables were scarce. Materially it seemed little had changed since the end of the war but in reality the Berlin Airlift brought about historic change.

The airlift changed the relationship between the members of the Allied Occupation and the people of West Berlin and by implication the people of Western Germany. Whatever the politicians believed the soldiers and airmen of the allied forces looked upon the airlift as a humanitarian mission. The position of West Berlin was as precarious as ever. The city remained an area of western influence surrounded by a Soviet ruled land.

On May 12 1949, the Soviet Union raised the blockade. However, the airlift continued for a further four months so that stocks could be built up in case the blockade was re-imposed. The Soviet intention of 'starving out' West Berlin had failed and was seen by many as a moral defeat. The West Berliners had spurned all Soviet inducements and only 20,000 had accepted the offer of East Berlin ration cards.

On April 4 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was formed in which USA, Canada and most non communist European countries pledged themselves to mutual assistance in case of foreign aggression.

Following the lifting of the blockade political relations became more and more divided. The western sector continued to prosper as a result of 'Marshall Aid' and the economic gap between East and West was very evident in Berlin. Every day large numbers of skilled workers and professionals commuted from East to West Berlin. As a result of seeing what was on offer in the West in terms of employment, wages and the standard of living many decided to move to West Berlin. By the middle of 1961 as many as 30,000 East Germans a month were moving to the West. The East German government had to act to stem this flow as these were the very people they couldn't afford to lose. These were the people on whom they were relying to help build a revitalised East Germany. It was perceived that the survival of East Germany was threatened and so the government solution to this problem was to build the BERLIN WALL.