Cold War Files: All Units: Activities: The Division of Germany (1945) and the Berlin Blockade/Airlift (1948-1949)

The Division of Germany (1945) and the Berlin Blockade/Airlift (1948-1949)

Accompanying Materials:
Outline Maps of Germany in 1945 Map of Final Zones of Occupation in Germany as of late 1945 (American, British, French and Russian Zones).
Photograph of Berlin airlift flight.

Activities: Mapping exercise and the development of hypotheses.
Focus: Using maps/photos to aid in the development of hypotheses related to a series of Key Questions (below).
Technology: Overhead or LCD projector
Teacher Role:
a) Setting the stage: mood of cooperation between American and Russian military leaders in Germany following the defeat of Nazi Germany.
b) Interpreting the map showing Final Zones of Occupation.
c) Questioning student assumptions and helping to clarify student hypotheses.
d) Citing historical sources
Teaching Aides: Overhead slide of Central Europe in 1945 and oversized outline maps of Germany.

Student Activities:
1) Transfer information (general locations of Zones of Occupation) from overhead map to outline map.
2) Locate Berlin and prepare a blow-up map of Berlin and the agreed upon transportation corridors (three air corridors, two rail lines, and one main highway) linking the western sector of Berlin to the American, British and French Zones of Occupation.
3) Small Group Discussion focusing on Key Questions (below).
4) Development of hypotheses.
5) Presentation and defense of hypotheses.
6) Class inventory of most realistic and compelling hypotheses.

Key Questions:
1) Why were the occupying powers unable to reunite Germany after 1945? What were the main obstacles/disagreements?
2) Why did the Western powers (US, Britain and France) refuse to recognize the merger of East Germany and East Berlin?
3) What caused the Berlin crisis of July 1948-May 1949? Does the crisis serve as an example of the reciprocal nature of containment?
4) Why did the U.S. decide to use the aerial bridge rather than rail or highway routes to resupply West Berlin? Soviets not use military force to interrupt the aerial bridge?
5) How did this first great drama of the Cold War affect the way people in the West viewed their World War II enemies?

A) Accuracy of the completed Outline Maps, including the location of Berlin and the transportation corridors linking West Berlin to the Western Zones of Occupation.
B) Strength of the student teams’ hypotheses (as demonstrated through the use of supporting ideas and specific information).

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