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A Divided City World War II nearly wiped out Berlin About a third of the city was destroyed and some 152000 civilians lost their lives The damage and deaths resulted mostly from Allied bombing raids throughout the war and from an extended land battle for Berlin At the conclusion of the war the victorious allies took over Berlin in 1945 and divided the city into four sectors Britain France the Soviet Union and the United States each occupied one sector They also divided Germany into four zones As stated in the World Book Millennium Although Berlin lay within the Soviet zone of occupation the Western powers expected the Soviet Union to permit them free access to the city However in June 1948 the Soviet Union blocked all rail water and highway routes through the Soviet zone to the Western sectors of Berlin The Soviets hoped the blockade would drive Western troops out of Berlin The Western Strategy Gen Lucius D Clay commander of US forces in occupied Germany and Europe announced that no Soviet action short of war would force the Americans out of Berlin The question was how to make good on that promise for the Western sectors of the city had a total of less than two weeks of critical supplies and the small American force in Germany could not have put down the mighty Soviet Army The British and American forces came up with a strategy to airlift supplies to the sectors of Western Berlin General Curtis Lemay appointed a committee to make the airlift possible The British were a little ahead in the preparation for the airlift The other concerned ally France initially distanced itself from this challenge but only briefly They had no air transport available in Europe as they were busy with a struggle in Indochina As stated in the Inside the Berlin Airlift at httpwwwafaorgmagazineOct19981098berlinprinthtml This all out performance could not be continued for long
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