THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: The Berlin Blockade - There will be no abandoning of ‘stout-hearted Berlin democrats’

From the News Letter, July 1, 1948

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 9:10 am
Winston Churchill (left) with Franklin D Roosevelt (centre) and Josef Stalin with their advisers at the Yalta Agreement talks February 1945. The agreement was instrumental to the partitioning of Germany and the inception of the United Nations. Picture: PA News
Winston Churchill (left) with Franklin D Roosevelt (centre) and Josef Stalin with their advisers at the Yalta Agreement talks February 1945. The agreement was instrumental to the partitioning of Germany and the inception of the United Nations. Picture: PA News

“The gravity of the situation in Berlin found due recognition at Westminster yesterday in debate which revealed - the only bright spot - Britain and her allies in full accord about the necessities of the case,” declared the News Letter in an editorial published by the News Letter on this day in 1948.

“In no quarter could there be any misapprehension of the Kremlin’s aims. The blockade of Berlin, ostensibly a temporary expedient demanded by differential currencies, is of a piece with much that has gone before - the latest of series of moves designed not merely to bring Germany - or a great part of it - permanently under Russian sway, but to frustrate all steps to promote a revival of European economy, and so to create the conditions in which Communism thrives.

“Under all this provocation, Britain, the United States and France - no less responsible than Russia for the future of Germany as a whole - have shown a patience and restraint which, obviously enough, Moscow interprets as weakness, and the time to call a halt has come.

“The blockade of Berlin - regardless of the sufferings of the population - is, after all, only the culmination of many efforts to establish a claim to complete control of the capital.

“It is one which the Western allies cannot for a moment admit, and from both London and Washington now goes a clear intimation that the squeezing-out process will not succeed.

“‘We are in Berlin to stay,’ declares Mr Marshall, United States Secretary of State, and the British Foreign Secretary, saying the same thing in different terms, assured the House of Commons yesterday that the French government is in full agreement.

“Mr Eden, who initiated the discussion, urged the desirability of joint communication to the authorities in Moscow, making it plain that, while sincere in desiring their friendship, the Western Powers ‘are not prepared to be intimidated by brute force or by blackmail’.

“Mr Bevin, while not disagreeing, holds that the first step is to ensure the feeding of the threatened population.

“If recent difficulties are removed - as a statement by Marshal Sokolovsky seemed to foreshadow - so much the better. The way will then be open for discussion of the Berlin situation on a four-Power level.

“Meanwhile arrangements for conveyance of food by air will proceed. There can be no question, he says, of abandoning the ‘stout-hearted Berlin democrats who refuse to bow to Soviet pressure,’ and if, as a result, grave situation should arise, Parliament will have to be asked face it. The alternative, as he says, is withdrawal, and that is unthinkable.”

The News Letter’s editorial on the Berlin Blockade concluded: “Moscow may or may not intend war, but any vacillation on the Western nations’ part would result - to quote Mr. Eden - ‘in further yielding until a last stand had to be taken which would make war inevitable’.”