Cold War

The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.39

     challenging words:    peacetime, communist, humanitarian, airfield, blockade, successful, provided, visibility, democratic, planes, abandon, advance, automobile, zone, mission, battle
     content words:    World War II, United States, Soviet Union, West Berlin, Great Britain, West Germany, In Berlin, Operation Vittles, Plane Fare, Berlin Airlift

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The Berlin Airlift
By Sharon Fabian

1     Germany had been divided into four zones after World War II. The United States and its allies controlled the three western zones. The communist Soviet Union controlled the eastern zone. The capital city of Berlin, which was located within the eastern zone over 100 miles from the dividing line, was also divided into quarters.
2     The Soviet Union wanted to take control of all of Berlin and drive the western countries out. To do this, it began a blockade of the western part of the city in June of 1948. Since it controlled the land on all sides of the city, this was not difficult to do. First it cut off all automobile and truck traffic into West Berlin. Then it cut off all barge traffic into West Berlin. Finally it also stopped all railroad traffic. No supplies could enter the city. If the blockade continued, the 2.2 million people of West Berlin would starve. Would the United States and its allies abandon their claims to Berlin to save the people from starving?
3     Berlin was not abandoned to the Communists, but its people didn't starve either. The United States, Great Britain, and France planned a huge mission to send in supplies by air. They would fly supplies from bases in the British part of West Germany into West Berlin.
4     At first they flew in from three air bases in West Germany. In Berlin, they landed at either a U.S. base named Tempelhof or a British base called Gatow. At the beginning of the airlift, Tempelhof and Gatow each had only one runway. Nevertheless, airlift pilots began flying in 500 tons of supplies per day.
5     The American mission was known as Operation Vittles; the British mission was known as Plane Fare. American, British, and French pilots worked together to fly in all of the necessities. They brought food and medicine. They brought coal for fuel. They brought raw materials and machine parts to keep the factories operating.

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