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The Berlin Airlift
Timeline: The Berlin Airlift

1945 - 1947 | 1948 - 1990  


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin at the Livadia Palace in Yalta, 02/09/1945. February 4-11: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin meet at Yalta and confirm a plan to divide both Germany and the city of Berlin into American, British, French, and Russian zones.

March: American forces capture a bridge across the Rhine River and enter Germany.

President Harry S. Truman taking the oath of office, 7:09 p.m. Bess and Margaret Truman stand beside the President; other members of the administratiion stand around him, 04/12/1945. April 12: Roosevelt dies; Harry Truman becomes president.

April 21: The Red Army of the Soviet Union reaches Berlin.

Pfc. Frank Huff (left), of Washington, Va., shakes hands with a Russian soldier to symbolize the meeting of the two armies at the Elbe River, April 25, 1945. April 25-26: Soviet and American forces link up at the River Elbe.

April 30: German leader Adolf Hitler commits suicide.

May 2: Russian forces take control of Berlin.

May 7: The Germans unconditionally surrender at General Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters in Reims, France.

Jubilant American soldier hugs English woman and victory smiles light the faces of happy service men and civilians at Piccadilly Circus, London, celebrating Germany's unconditional surrender. England, May 7, 1945. May 8: V-E (Victory in Europe) Day; another surrender ceremony occurs in Berlin.

June 5: The Allied Control Council (ACC), with representatives from each Allied power, announces the division of Germany.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower talks with Lt. Gen. Lucius B. Clay at Gatow Airport in Berlin, Germany. June 29: Eisenhower's deputy, Lieutenant General Lucius Clay, meets with his Russian and British counterparts in Berlin to discuss Western access to the city, which is 110 miles inside the Soviet zone. One highway and railroad are set aside for Western use.

British soldiers relax in their occupation sector. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the background still sits on the Kurfurstendamm and has been left in its ruined state as a memorial to war. July 3: British and American soldiers take over their Berlin zones.

July 5: An election that Churchill has called takes place in Great Britain.

July 7: The ACC creates a governing body for Berlin, the Kommandatura; Russian representative Marshal Georgi Zhukov says that the Soviets will not supply food for the Western sectors of Berlin.

July 17: Truman, Churchill and Stalin convene the Potsdam Conference to discuss post-war issues; it lasts until August 2.

Newly appointed British Prime Minister Clement Attlee stands at the entrance to his residence shortly after his arrival in Berlin, Germany to attend the Potsdam Conference. July 26: Clement Atlee, who has defeated Churchill in the election, takes over as British Prime Minister.

September 2: Japan formally surrenders, ending World War II.

October 24: The United Nations is created.

Nuremberg Trials. Defendants in their dock; Goering, Hess, von Ribbentrop, and Keitel in front row, circa 1945-1946. November 20: The war crimes trials of Nazi leaders begin at Nuremberg.

November 30: The ACC approves three air corridors securing Western access to Berlin; each is 20 miles wide.


February: The American charge d'affaires in Moscow, George Kennan, composes an 8,000-word "long telegram" laying out his understanding of the Soviet world view. Kennan's telegram helps shape U.S. foreign policy.

March 5: In a famous speech at Westminster College in Missouri, Churchill declares that an "iron curtain" has fallen across Eastern Europe.

Secretary of State James Byrnes is greeted by military officers of the Soviet Union at Gatow Airport in Berlin, Germany. 07/15/1945. September 6: U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes declares in Stuttgart that "security forces will probably have to remain in Germany for a long period," adding, "We will not shirk our duty. We are not withdrawing."

October 20: Communist candidates receive little support in Berlin's elections, winning only 26 of 130 spots.


March 10: Allied foreign ministers meet in Moscow to try and create a treaty for a new German government but fail to reach agreement after six weeks.

March 12: President Truman announces his "Truman Doctrine" pledging support to any country threatened by communism.

General Lucius D. Clay. March: Clay replaces Eisenhower as military governor of the American zone of Germany.

L to R: President Truman, George C. Marshall, Paul Hoffman, and Averell Harriman in the oval office discussing the Marshall Plan. June 5: New Secretary of State George Marshall presents the "Marshall Plan" of reconstruction aid to Europe -- almost $13 billion will be sent from 1948 to 1952, but the Soviet Union and communist dominated countries in Eastern Europe refuse to participate.

June: The Soviets exercise their veto in the ACC and prevent Ernst Reuter from taking office as Berlin's elected mayor.

November 25-December 17: Another conference of foreign ministers is held in London, but again no agreement is reached on the future government of Germany.

West Berlin, Germany. Marshall Plan aid to Germany totaled $1,390,600 and enabled that country to rise from the ashes of defeat, as symbolized by this worker in West Berlin. December 17: Congress enacts legislation authorizing the first aid payments of the Marshall Plan.

1945 - 1947 | 1948 - 1990  

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The Berlin Airlift American Experience