Letter From West Berlin

Claudia Dyball, Dickson College, 2011

The following empathetic response was written as part of the International Relations Since 1945 unit at Dickson College, Semester 2, 2011. It was written in response to the following task. 'You are living in the Western sector of Berlin in April 1949. You are 20 years old. Write a letter to a friend living in western Europe, e.g, Norway, describing what life is like.'

Ingrid Eriksson
Runiusgatan, 53, Stockholms Lan
Stockholm Sweden SSII2 55

3rd April 1949
Libe Schwester Ingrid,

I know it has been almost a year since last I wrote to you and I am very sorry for that but things have (as I am sure you have heard) been extremely strained here. Firstly; how are you? Is your family well? Every day I thank God that you and your family escaped our once great homeland before it was torn apart by war.[1] I am even more grateful for this now, given how horrific things have become here since last I wrote a year ago.[2] In June the Soviets implemented a full blockade on us in the West[3] , which means that no food or fuel can reach us by the usual means. The Soviets are trying to force the Western Allies to abandon their occupation of West Berlin by making it impossible for them to supply us with life necessities. Vater says that Stalin has lost his mind completely, and that if he wants to control all of Berlin then starving half its people to death is not the way to go about it.[4] I agree with Vater completely, and know that I would rather die starving than be controlled by that Communist tyrant.[5] If it had not been for that Americans I do not know what we would have done.[6] Two days after the blockade started they landed their first plane filled with supplies, and since then have been flying supplies in none stop. I do not remember the last time I looked into the sky and didn’t see a supply plane; they say that a plane lands every ninety seconds at Temelhof![7] It must be costing the Allies a fortune to keep us alive[8] , and I respect them deeply for doing it. It is strange to think some of our once enemies are now our heroes and saviours.[9] When the Second World War ended the Western Allies could easily have left us in ruin to crumble under our own extreme poverty,[10] but instead they stayed. Those were some dark days, Ingrid; bartering all we had on the black market just to make ends meet, because after all nobody was interested in reichmarks anymore.[11] The Western Allies have, in my opinion, worked extremely hard to try and alleviate us from those desperate circumstances, and to me it seems they have done it in the most peaceful way available to them (those blasted Soviets are just too proud!). The Americans have given, not only West Germany but, many countries financial aid, so that we might try and recover from the War.[12] I cannot understand why the Soviets became so set on refusing America’s help, I guess because they thought the Americans were trying to rally support against Communism.[13] This of course means that our people in the East have been denied the aid they were offered, because they are controlled by that paranoid lunatic, Stalin. The West also gave us a new currency so that we might have economical order, it is called Deutschmark.[14] Obviously this backfired, because the Soviets took it as yet another threat and so they put this cursed blockade on us,[15] and created their own currency in retaliation.[16] I won’t sugar coat it for you, Ingrid, our conditions are abysmal. We are all constantly hungry, surviving on the most minimal amount of rations possible. On average we get about four hours of electricity a day and we all live in fear that maybe this blockade will never end. Thankfully (if anyone can be thankful these days) the winter was not as harsh as usual, I dare not imagine the consequences had it have been.[17] Sadly, though Ingrid, I must tell you that Oma is not well, her health has grown steadily worse. I fear that if the blockade does not lift soon she might not recover.[18] Despite all this, Ingrid, the blockade is far better than the alternative of another war. We in the West stay strong. The commitment of the Western Allies to supplying us with the necessities we need inspires us to endure. Let us pray this blockade does not last much longer.[19]

Your Most devoted Bruder,

Hans Wolfgang



A. C Morales 1986, East Meets West Volume II: 1920-1980, Macmillan Publishers, Ltd, Hong Kong.

'Berlin Blockade and Airlift’, Britannica 1974, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc, America

Berlin Airlift, World Book Volume 2B 2006, World Book, Inc, America

Norman A. Graebner 1963, The Cold War: Ideological Conflict or Power Struggle, D.C Heath and Company, America

Derek McDougall 1990, Soviet-American Relations since the 1940’s, Edward Arnold, Pty Ltd, Australia

Colin Brown and Peter J. Mooney 1981, Cold War to Détente 1945-80, Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd, England

Geoffrey Brunn and Dwight E. Lee 1964, The Second World War and After, Houghton Mifflin Company, Australia

Derek C. Maus 2003, Turning Points in World History: The Cold War, Greenhaven Press, America

R.E. Ringer 1993, Modern History Outlines: Twentieth Century Germany and Russia, Maxwell Macmillan Publishing, Pty Ltd, Australia

R. G. Grant, The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall, Bison Books, Ltd, England











  1. ^ During the War many families escaped to neutral countries to avoid the warfare, Sweden was one of them.
  2. ^ In April 1948 a partial blockade was imposed on West Berlin by the Soviet Union. Allied transport into Berlin had to apply for a permit and was inspected (Cold War Museum: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/40s/berlin_blockade.asp).
  3. ^ On the 24th of June the Soviets closed all land and water routes going in and out of West Berlin in an attempt to force the Western Allies to submit to Stalin’s demands. This event is known as the Berlin Blockade (Britannica 1947).
  4. ^ Stalin wanted to force the Western Allies out of West Berlin, because as Berlin was in the Soviet sector of Germany he believed it was rightfully his.
  5. ^ Communist ideals contradicted established German way of life. Communism rejects the bourgeoisie class, which was deeply part of the German way of life. For this reason West Germans were largely fearful of the USSR communist regime.
  6. ^ Although the other two Western Allies (Britain and France) both supported and contributed slightly to the airlift efforts it was America who contributed the most - two-thirds of the aircrafts (Colin Brown and Peter J. Mooney).
  7. ^ Tempelhof was the main airport used during the Berlin Airlift, located in the American sector. Planes landed between 1.5 minutes to every 3 minutes (The Berlin Airlift: http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/airlift.html).
  8. ^ A total of $224,000,000 (Britannica 1974).
  9. ^ In WWII the Allies (Britain, France, America, and the USSR) fought against Nazi Germany.
  10. ^ Germany had spent everything they had in their WWII war efforts. Their cities had been bombed and left in ruin. They had no resources left to recover. And they did not have enough man power to produce much needed supplies. As a result the country was in crisis (Norman A. Graebner, The Cold War: Ideological Conflict or Power Struggle).
  11. ^ After WWII the German currency had become worthless because of inflation due to the chronic lack of resources (Colin Bown and Peter J. Mooney, Cold War to Détente 1945-80).
  12. ^ The Marshall Plan saw the American government supply 17 countries a total of $13 billion in financial aid (George.C Marshall Foundation: http://www.marshallfoundation.org/TheMarshallPlan.htm).
  13. ^ The Soviets feared that the Americans were trying to increase their own popularity by giving out money, so that they could encourage countries to reject Communism. Stalin forbid all Communist controlled Easter Europe countries from excepting the Marshall Plan.
  14. ^ On the 18th June 1948 the new Deutschmark was introduced into the Western Zones of Germany, including West Berlin. The Soviets took this as a threat by the Western Allies to try and undermine Communism, by rallying support and gaining popularity with the bribe of a new currency (Colin Bown and Peter J. Mooney, Cold War to Détente 1945-80).
  15. ^ The Soviets declared that the Western Allies' right to occupy Berlin was terminated and all British, French and American troops must leave Berlin. The Soviets turned off Berlin’s electrical power and stopped shipments of food into west Berlin .The Allies responded with the Berlin Airlift (East Germany during the Cold War http://eastgermany.info/BerlinAirlift.htm).
  16. ^ The Ostmark was issued by the Soviet government on the 23rd June (East Germany during the Cold War http://eastgermany.info/BerlinAirlift.htm).
  17. ^ A mild winter aided West Berlin in resisting Soviet pressures, because the lack of electricity was not as devastating as it could have been if the winter had been as cold as it usually was (http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/coldwar/p/prberlinblock.htm).
  18. ^ During the Berlin Blockade the health of children and the elderly was the most effected by the harsh conditions (Geoffrey Brunn and Dwight E. Lee, The Second World War and After).
  19. ^ The Berlin Blockade lasted a total of 11 months, 24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949.