Helion's Cold War Berlin: An Island City Vol 1

Author/Artists: Andrew Long


Helion  Publishing


$24.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 88 pages, softcover, over 100 images
ISBN 978-1-914059-03-2

This latest book from Helion covers the start of the Cold War in general, and the Berlin Airlift in particular. When WWII ended, Germany was split into four sections, each controlled by the British, French, Soviets, and the United States. The same was done with the capital city of Berlin. It was hoped by three of the four that eventually, the entire nation would be united into one with a democratic government. The fourth had a completely different idea of how things would work, and wanted Germany to become a puppet state of the Soviet Union.

Stalin was paranoid and was constantly worried about his control not only over the Soviet Union, but over nations that felt were a buffer against the West. He wanted a buffer zone that ran from the Baltic to the Adriatic and Germany was a major part of that zone. He could not afford to allow a democratic Germany to exist. As soon as the Soviets entered Berlin, they quickly started to establish communist Germans into all areas of what was needed to run the city. This included radio, newspapers, and government. Since the Allies had to cross Soviet controlled territory to reach Berlin, this gave the Soviets a head start.

Three corridors of about 20 miles wide allowed the Allies to send supplies to Berlin via road, air, and rail. The Soviets looted everything from all of Berlin as soon as they could to pay for 'reparations'. This included all manufacturing equipment even from zones that were not going to be run by Soviets. This left Berliners wholly dependent on either Soviet or Western sources for food, fuel and other necessary commodities.

As time went on through 1946 and 1947, it was obvious that those in what was the Allied controlled part of Berlin had no intentions of being controlled by the Soviet Union. In order to help 'encourage' a change of mind, the Soviets started slowing down relief trains and road cargo via bogus excuses 'road work' and so on. Eventually, this did not work and so it was decided to close all forms of ground transportation. This left only the air routes. Stalin figured that it would only be a few weeks before the Allies would give up. Well, that simply did not happen and eventually, what was to become the Berlin Airlift was not only able to meet the needs of West Berliners but exceeded the needs.

It was not an easy task and many things needed to be learned. All of this is covered in this superlative book on the subject. It has excellent photos, the usual great profiles and some equally useful charts and tables. It makes for what is the best book on the subject I have read and I know that you will find it as well done and interesting as did I.

Most highly recommended.

May 2021

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