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"Blockade of Berlin" and food question: the forgotten aspects

UDK 940.55 (430)

V.A. Bespalov


The question of food supply of the Western Berlin during the 1st Berlin crisis of 1948 — 1949 is considered

The article is devoted to the problem of food supply of the West Berlin during the first Berlin crisis 1948-1949.

On the twenty fourth of June, 2008 60 years from the date of the beginning of so-called "blockade of Berlin" will be executed by the Soviet troops. It is known that in response to holding a monetary reform in the western sectors of the city (contrary to written guarantees of the western powers that reform in the western zones of occupation of Germany will not concern Berlin) and also owing to non-performance by the western occupational powers in 1946 — 1948. The Potsdam decisions and the actual sabotage of work of Control council by means of refusal of the principle of the general reporting, the Soviet bodies for the purpose of suppression of pressure upon the geopolitical interests of the USSR in post-war Europe were forced to begin holding large campaigns on full overlapping of the overland routes connecting Berlin with the western zones for prevention to the city of new currency and "expression" of allies from it.

Unfortunately, in modern mass consciousness quite one-sided point of view on these events of 60-year was established: continuous blockade of the Western Berlin doomed to starvation two and a half million population of the city saved only thanks to establishment by the American and British Air Force of "the air bridge" on which the main amount of food products for the German citizens was transported. This point of view demands a certain adjustment.

Tells about an accurate splanirovannost of the carried-out actions also a peculiar preparatory period in the organization of large restrictions of movement between the western zones and the western sectors of Berlin. Since March 25, 1948. The Soviet military authorities in Germany (SVAG) began to issue the orders on strengthening of protection and control on a line of demarcation of the Soviet zone of occupation of Germany which are also connected with new requirements to interzonal trade. In particular, on June 8 there was an order "About Specification of an Order of the Admission of Cargoes out of Limits of the Soviet Zone of Occupation of Germany and about Improvement of Work of Control and Customs Points" in which on -

Article is written with financial support Fonda Ebelin and Gerda Buzeri-us "to ZEIT — Stiftung".


the chalnik of Management of foreign trade of SVAG was recommended "to start accounting of cargoes of the American, English and French occupational troops and military authorities transported through a line of demarcation to Berlin and back" and also "to warn passengers at reception of baggage that their baggage will be subjected to customs inspection on a line of demarcation or border of a zone" [1, op. 7s, 73, l. 128].

The Soviet part made attempts to improve matters of the German population of the city which appeared by the involuntary hostage of the arisen opposition. Movement of civilians from the western sectors of the city in east was limited to SVAG only for 5 days (from June 24 to June 29) for the purpose of streamlining of process of exchange of old bank notes on new in east sector. Thus, the population could buy without any obstacles all necessary products in food warehouses of the Soviet sector, though those warehouses which were in the western sectors of the city could also during these 5 days completely provide needs of citizens. In warehouses a large number of food stocks, in particular the grain belonging to SVAG accumulated, but the military authorities of the western sectors blocked delivery of the products intended for all city and used them only for supply of the western sectors. There were enough food reserves collected in these warehouses to provide inhabitants of the western sectors on the established diets for two months (July and August) [2, page 9 — 10]. However the German news agency of the Soviet occupational zone in the first day of restrictions warned about a possibility of interruptions in food supply of the civilian population [13, 1948, Juni 25]. Already on July 14, 1948 in an official note of the Soviet government to the U.S. Government it was stated that "The Soviet command steadily took and takes care of welfare and ensuring normal supply of the Berlin population with all necessary and seeks for the fastest elimination of the difficulties which arose recently in this case" [5, page 58].

On the twentieth of July the Information bureau of SVAG stated that SVAG guarantees improvement of food position of the western sectors of the city by means of supply them to all necessary. For this purpose it at once allocated 100 thousand tons of grain from the state reserves. The population of the western sectors on the food-cards and also on the money addressing in the Soviet sector, could receive products in shops of the Soviet sectors on the norms established in the Soviet zone which, by the way, were higher western [13, 1948, Juli 20]. In two weeks, on August 3, 1948 there was an order of SVAG "About Delivery to Germany from the USSR 100 Thousand Tons of Grain for Supply of Berlin" in which it was recommended "to make grain transportation by the sea due to reduction of export in July-August, 1948 on 25 thousand tons of scrap metal and on 25 thousand tons of reparation cargoes from Germany" [1, op. 7a, 74, l. 248]. On the twenty fourth of July, 1948 the commandant of the Soviet sector general A. Kotikov throughout SVAG guarantees of July 20 issued the order "About provisioning of inhabitants of the western sectors Bør -

Lina through grocery stores of the Soviet sector" [11, 1948, Juli 25]. According to it each inhabitant of the western sectors could register from July 26 to August 3 in card bureaus of the Soviet sector. The Soviet commandant also obliged food bodies of the Berlin magistrate to monitor execution of these instructions and delivery of cards by means of appointment of new responsibles in department of supply of magistrate. The western commandants in four days issued counterorders with the ban to carry out any changes in bodies of magistrate concerning department of supply [6, S. 1584].

In the territory of the Soviet sector there were 2,800 grocery stores of different types [7, S. 139]. A large number of these shops was developed directly near border with the western sectors. Thus, inhabitants of the western sectors could receive food in the Soviet sector by cards which were given by it not only in the sectors, but also in Soviet.

On the seventeenth of August the Information bureau of SVAG announced providing all four sectors of Berlin with coal of the population [13, 1948, Aug. 18; 10, 1948, Aug. 19]. Owing to the measures taken by SVAG the inhabitants of all sectors of Berlin only in the second half of August received 60 thousand tons of coal briquettes and a large amount of firewood. On the twenty sixth of August SVAG disposed about delivery since September 1, 1948 of milk to all children up to 14 years from the western sectors registered in east sector. In total 55 thousand liters of milk [13, 1948 were allocated, to Aug. 27].

The western powers forbade inhabitants to receive products in east sector of the city, speculating in media with a thesis about danger of starvation to citizens from Councils and about their rescue by means of the so-called "air bridge". The West German researcher Mr. Rudolph in the analysis of the western press which is carried out by him for that period notes sharp change of tonality of the main West Berlin and West German newspapers at the description of the Soviet actions which began to be called "boastful offers", "bluff" and "propaganda maneuvers" [8, S. 165]. However It should be noted that an air passage which allowed to perform unprecedented operation on cargo delivery generally of coal, SVAG did not close that speaks not about military plans of the USSR in relation to the western allies, and about political pressure such funds for them. Supply of the city through "the air bridge" allowed to deliver to the city, according to the latest data, 2,031,746.5 tons of cargoes, from them were the share of coal, gasoline, liquid fuel and military cargoes to 80%. Food from June, 1948 till May, 1949 488,088.1 tons, i.e. 20% of total number of cargoes [9, S were delivered. 43].

In the area of SVAG and also from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland and through the markets of the earth Brandenburg to the Western Berlin only in August — October (i.e. in three months) about 383 thousand tons of food cargoes were delivered 1948 that made % of all volume of the food transported on "the air bridge" in ten months. Daily from the Soviet zone through official channels in Western


Berlin about 900 tons of products, apart from coal, textile and other goods arrived (clothes, footwear and so forth) [5, page 82].

The British newspaper "Daley Meyl" those days wrote: "Berliners, if they accept offers on deliveries of the Soviet government, will mock at our efforts and our air bridge, and will make our presence useless" [7, S. 143]. The western administrations took active measures for prevention of merchandising of inhabitants of the sectors in east part of the city. Already on August 20 the British authorities for the first time for all the time of occupation of Berlin blocked wire entanglements one of busy squares of the city — Potsdammerplatz across which there passed the border of the British and Soviet sectors. Soon the military authorities began persecution of those West Berliners who received food in the Soviet sector. They were moved from apartments, discharged from office. On the thirtieth of March, 1949 occupational U.S. authorities made the order that all serving police and its auxiliary divisions which receive food-cards in the Soviet sector have to be "immediately and is termless are fired" [3, with. 177].

The measures taken by the western authorities considerably complicated deliveries from the Soviet sector and receiving food by inhabitants of the western sectors. By the beginning of 1949 from the population of the western sectors containing 2.6 million in card bureaus of the Soviet sector 100 thousand people [7, S registered. 142], i.e. 3.84% of the general population of the Western Berlin. But even this number demonstrates attempts of the population to take advantage of offers of SVAG.

Thus, the thesis about the total block of Berlin the Soviet Union which put the population of the city on edge of starvation does not maintain serious criticism. This essay — attempt to clear up somewhat events of that era, unfortunately, which is not investigated properly by the Russian historical science yet. Obscurity of a subject, according to the Russian historian N. Platoshkin, promotes "to creation of a new system of historical myths which does not serve either business of restoration of the historical truth, or creation of really close and friendly relations between the people of Germany and Russia" [4, with. 379].

List of references and sources

1. State Archive of the Russian Federation. F. R-7317.
2. G.M. Bespalov. Berlin question and German problem. M, 1949.
3. V.N. Vysotsky. The western Berlin and its place in the system of the modern international relations. M, 1971.
4. N. Platoshkin. Hot summer of 1953 in Germany. M, 2004.
5. Soviet Union and Berlin question. M, 1948.
6. Berlin. Quellen und Dokumente 1945 — 1951. Hbd. 2. Berlin, 1964.
7. Keiderling G. Die Berliner Krise 1948/49. Berlin (West), 1982.
8. Rudolf G. Presseanalyse und zeitgeschichtliche Forschung. Telegraf und WAZ zur Berlin-Krise 1948/49. Mynchen, 1972.
9. Schroder T. Die Logistik der Lyftbrycke. Vom Experiment zur Rekord-Maschi-nerie//P. M. DOKU. 2006. N 1.
10. Tagesspiegel.
11. Neues Deutschland.
12. Neuer Vorwarts.
13. Tagliche Rundschau.
14. Telegraf.

About the author

V.A. Bespalov — asp., RGU to them I. Kant,

UDC 940.55 (410)

I.A. Hikhlya



On the example of the collection "New Fabian Essays" the transformation of ideas of socialism of the leading ideologists by the labourite of party of Great Britain is shown.

Using a collection of articles, called "New Fabian Essays", as an example the author shows a transformation of the views on socialism expressed by the leading ideologists of the British Labour party.

In the late forties — the beginning of the 1950th in development of the theory by the labourite of party of Great Britain the new round began. The reforms which are carried out by K. Attlee's governments led to important changes in internal life of the country. But realization of the main part of the planned reforms put party in conditions when it was necessary to introduce amendments in its programs urgently. The first developments of new approaches appeared even before resignation of the government of Attlee. With defeat of party on the regular general election of 1951 the problem of theoretical changes became much more relevant in the light of selective prospects.

One of possible approaches to such changes was offered only by the direction which began to be formed within a moderate political thought which supporters sought to reconsider the purposes the labourite of party in connection with transformations of the second half of the 1940th. It became result of revival, in many respects thanks to George Cole, Fabian society as the research center and the center of gravity of an intellectual initiative not only right representatives and moderate currents in party, but also a part of her left figures.

At the Fabian conference which was taking place under the chairmanship of Cole in July, 1949 the decision to release a modern analog of the original "Fabian essays about socialism" published in 1889 was made. Meeting in the course of its preparation, ideologists and future authors resisted each other and contradicted themselves on very mno-

Christian Erich
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