The first major international crisis of the Cold War happened in Berlin between April 1948 and May 1949 and it is known as the Berlin Blockade. During this long months, the Soviet forces blocked the Western Allies’ railway, road and water access to Berlin. And in response to the blockade, the Berlin Airlift came to be.
The Soviet forces were not happy when the Deutschmark was introduced in West Berlin. They were so unhappy with the currency change without their consent that the Soviet forces issued orders to restrict traffic between the American, British and French occupation zones of Berlin. Because of that, no cargo could leave Berlin by rail without a permission from the Soviet Forces.
How the Berlin Airlift came to be.
On 18 June 1948, the Deutsche Mark was introduced in West Germany. The next day, Soviet Forces halted all passengers trains and traffic on the autobahn to Berlin. To enter Berlin, you needed a special Soviet permission. To leave the city, you needed another one. On June 22, the Soviets announced that they would introduce the Ostmark and started a massive propaganda campaign condemning Great Britain, the United States and France by radio, newspaper and loudspeaker.
On the following days, everything got worse and the Soviet forces stopped supplying food to the non-Soviet sectors of Berlin. Electricity was also cut and the future of West Berlin was looking grim. At that time, west Berlin had around 36 days worth of food and 45 days of coal and that needed to be fixed somehow.
This is how the Berlin Airlift came to be. Soviet Forces believed that this blockade would weaken the Western Allied Forces but it failed to do anything besides join them closer together. On June 24, the Berlin Airlift started and West Berlin started being supplied with food, milk, coal and everything else it might need via airplanes on the Allied Airports of Tempelhof, Gatow and Tegel.
By the end of August, Berlin was being supplied by the airlift with more than 1,500 flights a day that delivered more than 4,500 tons of cargo, enough to keep West Berlin supplied.
The video above is called Berlin Airlift: The Story of a Great Achievement and was produced Central Office of Information to document and keep track of the amazing and extraordinary events of 1948 and 1949 when Berlin was fed daily by thousands of airplanes.
If you want to learn more about the Berlin Airlift, you should read this article on Wikipedia or The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift. If you just want to see some nice pictures, try the Berlin Airlift: Air Bridge to Freedom: A Photographic History of the Great Airlift.