On this day in 1948, President Truman confronted a serious communist challenge in Berlin:
One of the most dramatic standoffs in the history of the Cold War begins as the Soviet Union blocks all road and rail traffic to and from West Berlin.
The blockade turned out to be a terrible diplomatic move by the Soviets, while the United States emerged from the confrontation with renewed purpose and confidence.
It was a shining moment for President Truman, who met the challenge by flying supplies to the people of West Berlin:
The United States response came just two days after the Soviets began their blockade. A massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin was undertaken in what was to become one of the greatest logistical efforts in history. For the Soviets, the escapade quickly became a diplomatic embarrassment. Russia looked like an international bully that was trying to starve men, women, and children into submission. And the successful American airlift merely served to accentuate the technological superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union.
On May 12, 1949, the Soviets officially ended the blockade.
The Berlin Airlift was one of President Truman’s finest moments! It was a wonderful demonstration of US presidential leadership. It also gave us the story of “the candy bombers” or US pilots who dropped candy for the children of Berlin.