Two Germanys – One People?

But a major split remained between the three Western zones and the Eastern zone, which widened as the Occupation proceeded. Under the direction of their respective occupying powers, the two parts of Germany were increasingly developing into two separate and unequal societies. On the eastern side were the Communist-controlled committees and councils, while a much more variegated political composition was slowly taking over in the western zones. Machinations and posturings on both sides heightened tensions and accentuated differences, but the intransigence of the Communists played the major role in erecting a political and psychological wall that years later would become a physical wall.

In June 1948, a new currency, the Deutsche Mark, was introduced to replace the nearly worthless Reichsmark. Each German was given forty new D-marks, and, like magic, shortages disappeared as shop shelves started filling up.

But only in the three western zones, where the occupying authorities allowed this currency change. The reaction in the Soviet zone was close to outrage that such a fundamental step had been taken without their approval. In response they imposed a total overland blockade of Berlin, then jointly administered by all four occupation powers. This blockade was, of course, a total violation of all agreements between the four powers.

The blockade was ultimately thwarted by the famed Berlin airlift which supplied the city with essentials during that dark period. By early 1949, the Kremlin had lifted its blockade. The ultimate importance of this episode was that it crowned and solidified the cooperation between the German people and their respective military occupiers, who were now acting more and more like allies.

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