The Berlin Airlift was a pivotal event early on in the Cold War. It refers to an event in which the United States and it’s western European allies attempted to supply aide to the residents of West Berlin who were cut off by the Soviet Union forces occupying them.
In an attempt to remove the allies from Berlin without starting a shooting war, Stalin and the Soviet Union closed off all access to Allied West Berlin, which lied within the Soviet occupied zone of postwar Germany. All traffic was halted, along with all transportation by rail and water routes.
The Allies considered all options, including a ground invasion plan, which might have started World War II, but in the end, they decided on a plan to supply the city with badly needed supplies by air.
Beginning in July, American C-54’s along with other aircraft began airdropping supplies inside the cut-off allied zone of Berlin. At first the Soviets and many western powers viewed the idea of supplying an entire city as impossible, but within a few short weeks they had refined the system and were successfully dropping nearly 300 tons of supplies a day. These supplies included food, water, medical supplies, baby formula and even bubble gum and candy.
Eventually, in 1949, the Soviets realized they were losing support in their own zones in Germany and decided to relent and lift the blockade. This was seen as a major victory for the west as it discouraged future soviet aggression in Germany and Berlin.
The final price tag of the airlift in today’s dollars was around 2.29 billion dollars!