At the end of the Second World War, the United States, British, and Soviet military forces divided and occupied Germany. Also divided into occupation zones, Berlin was located far inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany. The United States, United Kingdom, and France controlled western portions of the city, while Soviet troops controlled the eastern sector. As the wartime alliance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union ended and friendly relations turned hostile, the question of whether the western occupation zones in Berlin would remain under Western Allied control or whether the city would be absorbed into Soviet-controlled eastern Germany led to the first Berlin crisis of the Cold War.
The crisis started on June 24, 1948, when Soviet forces blockaded rail, road, and water access to Berlin’s Allied-controlled areas. The United States and the United Kingdom responded by airlifting food and fuel to Berlin from Allied airbases in western Germany. The crisis ended on May 12, 1949, when Soviet forces lifted the blockade on land access to western Berlin.
The crisis resulted from competing occupation policies and rising tensions between Western powers and the Soviet Union. After the end of the Second World War, the future of postwar Germany was plagued by the divisions within and between Allied powers. The only decision of significance emerged from wartime planning was the agreement that created four occupation zones, split between the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. Even after the hostilities, what to do about Germany was not successfully addressed at the July 1945 Potsdam Conference.