The war that Adolf Hitler began in 1939

The war that Adolf Hitler began in 1939, ended with the subsequent fall when the Germans were defeated in the spring of 1945. Germany was temporarily divided up into three zones in accordance with the Potsdam agreement after the Allies overpowered Hitler. The eastern zone of Germany was to be occupied by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR, or Soviet Union), while the western zone was to be occupied by the United States to the south and the British to the north. Eventually a zone was carved out of both the American and British zones for France. The Soviet zone was highly agricultural and produced much of Germany’s food while the British and American zones were more industrialized. Unfortunately, what ultimately set the stage for the Berlin Crisis of 1948 was that the capital of Germany, Berlin, laid smack in the middle of the eastern Soviet zone and over 110 miles from either Allied zone. In accordance with the Potsdam agreement, the city also was to be divided up between the four victorious allied forces. American, British, and French forces were to occupy and develop the western side of the capital while the Soviet forces were left to control and occupy the eastern side of the city. The allied side of western Berlin was connected to the allied zone through highways, railroads, and three air corridors, each providing some avenue to get supplies from the allied zone to western Berlin. A written agreement signed in November 1945 outlined the air corridors, conversely the land routes were never defined.
For the next three years, Germany underwent a slow reconstruction from the nearly total devastation of the country created during the war. The western zones of Germany and Berlin began to adjust themselves to the new democratic institutions and free market economy setup by the United States, Britain, and France while the eastern zones remained under the strict control of communism with a one-party communist government loyal to the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. To extend their boundaries, Stalin continued to advance his Red Army across Eastern Europe and he unilaterally moved the Russian-Polish border westward, but then compensated Poland by adjusting its border with Germany fifty miles to the west. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned the world as early as March 1946 that an “Iron Curtain” was descending across Europe and that the eastern European countries that Stalin dominated would be denied their freedoms.
By the end of 1947, the Soviets were showing signs that they wanted their wartime colleagues out of Berlin. More and more obstructions were placed on the way freight and passenger services moved in and out of West Berlin. Water supplies were frequently cut off due to “technical difficulties,” and roads were often closed for “repairs.” Due to the coal shortages, this also applied to repeat “power outages.”
With all of this this in mind, a meeting was organized in London in February and March 1948 with representatives from the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg to discuss the future of Western Europe. The parties all agreed that in preparation for a federal republic, it was necessary to economically merge the western zones. As a result to this action, On April 1, 1948, Stalin began restricting rail and road traffic between western Germany and Berlin in an attempt to pressure those leaders to reverse course. With the use of the C–47 airplane, shown in figure 1, the military governor of the United States zone of western Germany, Lieutenant General Lucius Clay, believed so strongly that West Berlin had to be held by the Western Allies at all costs that he arranged with the commander of United States Air Forces in Europe, Lieutenant General Curtis E. LeMay, to airlift supplies to the military garrisons of Berlin. The crisis culminated on April 5th when a British cargo plane buzzed by a Soviet fighter crashed as the result of an unintended collision between them, taking both down with no survivors. On April 10th, the crisis eased when the Soviet Union relaxed all the land route restrictions, however LeMay continued the airlifts as a contingency in the event that Stalin changed his mind.