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Berlin Blockade begins

In the ideological struggle that was the Cold War, East Germans voted the only way they could: with their feet. By the thousands each month, they escaped communist rule by slipping into the West through Berlin. In 1961, the East German government built a wall to keep them in. The Berlin Wall became both a barrier and a symbol of the differences between West and East, between democracy and communism. On Nov. 9, 1989, after floods of East Germans had left via third countries, the Berlin Wall came down, paving the way to German reunification.

To the victors went the spoils in postwar Germany, and Berlin is the biggest prize of all. Split between the Soviets and the Western powers of Britain, France and the United States, the city itself is also surrounded by Soviet-occupied territory.

In June 1948, as the Cold War raises new tensions, the Soviets impose a blockade on all food and fuel supplies coming into Berlin in an effort to push out their Western rivals. In this CBC Radio clip, correspondents Matthew Halton and Wilson Woodside describe the Western powers' reaction to this Soviet power play. 

• The Soviets imposed the Berlin Blockade after a series of conferences held by the occupied powers to settle the future of Germany. Keen on establishing economic stability, the Western powers sought to reform Germany's currency - a move the Soviets strenuously opposed.

• Under the blockade, the Soviets cut off all railways, roads and canals into Western-occupied Berlin so food and fuel could not reach the two million Berliners who lived there. Electricity to the area was also cut.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC News Roundup
Broadcast Date: June 25, 1948
Reporter: Matthew Halton, Willson Woodside
Duration: 4:57

Last updated: January 31, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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