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University Press of Kentucky
Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War

Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War

by Daniel F. HarringtonDaniel F. Harrington
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No place symbolized the cold war more than Berlin, and no event illustrates how East-West conflict developed more than the Berlin blockade. The blockade (June 24, 1948-May 12, 1949) was one of the first international crises of the cold war. During the occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviets to supply Berlin with food and fuel, thus enabling the Soviets to control the entire city. In response, the Allies organized the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. Scholars in recent years have tended to ignore the blockade in the belief that "we now know" all that can be said about it. The success of the airlift in breaking the blockade has led many-after the fact-to see the airlift as the execution of a well-conceived plan of a few diplomats, rather than as a brilliant improvisation by many people, influenced by time and chance.

In Time and Chance: A History of the Berlin Blockade, Daniel F. Harrington examines "the Berlin question" from its origin in wartime plans for the occupation of Germany through the Paris Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in 1949. Harrington draws on previously untapped archival sources to challenge standard accounts of the postwar division of Germany, the origins of the blockade, the original purpose of the airlift, and the leadership and decision-making of President Harry S Truman. While thoroughly examining American, British, French, and Soviet diplomacy at the top levels, Harrington also pays careful attention to events on the ground in postwar Berlin and to details of the that led to its success. He demonstrates how the airlift owed its success less to decisions at the top than to the ingenuity and hard work of people at the bottom-pilots, mechanics, and Berliners. Time and Chance reshapes the conventional understanding of a critical event of cold war history and promises to be the definitive book on the Berlin blockade.

Daniel F. Harrington is deputy command historian at United States Strategic Command and has published many essays in journals such as Diplomacy & Statecraft, International History Review, and Diplomatic History.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813136134
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Daniel F. Harrington is deputy command historian at United States Strategic Command.

Table of Contents

Map of Occupied Berlin viii

Map of Germany during the Berlin blockade ix

Introduction 1

1 Opportunity 7

2 Willingness 27

3 "The Danger Point Is Berlin" 47

4 Prudence and Resolve 77

5 "Doomed to Failure" 99

6 "The Next Step" 119

7 The Moscow Discussions 141

8 The September Crisis 165

9 A Necessary Failure 185

10 "Lieber Pomm als 'Frau Komm!'" 213

11 An Unexpected Success 237

12 Dealing Sensibly with Established Fact 261

Conclusions 293

Acknowledgments 305

Abbreviations 309

Notes 313

Bibliography 383

Index 405

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