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The Battle for Berlin

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Three years after the end of the war in which American and British air forces had all but obliterated German cities, Allied aircraft were once again circling Berlin. But this time they were carrying not bombs but food and fuel for a city under siege by Soviet forces. It was, quite simply, the most ambitious relief operation of its kind ever mounted.

Berlin was a divided city in a divided country in a divided Europe. It was not supposed to be like that. In the immediate post war, the Western allies—America, Britain and France—hoped to cooperate with the Soviet Union to make a lasting European peace. But between communism and democracy there were few meeting points. Holed up in the Kremlin, the ever distrustful Stalin saw himself surrounded by enemies. Above all, he feared a resurgent Germany fed by democratic and thus anti-Soviet doctrine.

So it was that the four-power occupation of Germany and of Berlin settled into an East-West split. The problem for Berlin was that it happened to be...

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