The Berlin Blockade was an attempt by the Soviet Union to block Allied access to the German city of Berlin in 1948 and 1949. Ultimately, the blockade turned out to be a total political failure for the Soviet Union, and the West managed to turn it into a major victory. This event was one of the first major conflicts of the Cold War, and the lessons of it were kept in mind during future episodes of tension between the Soviet Union and the Western world.
After the Second World War, Germany was split up among the Allies, with the French, Americans, British, and Russians each controlling a section of the country. The city of Berlin was located in East Germany, the section controlled by the Soviet Union, but it was deemed so important politically that it was split into miniature administrative districts, ensuring that the Allies had a presence there.
Being surrounded by East Germany left the Western-occupied sections of Berlin very vulnerable, however. In June 1948, Allied efforts to produce a unified currency for West Germany triggered alarm in the Soviet Union, and officials decided to block all access to Berlin, in the hopes of forcing the Allies to give them more control of the city. Essentially, the Soviet Union planned to starve the city in order to coerce the West into capitulating.
When the Soviet Union announced the blockade, the West was forced to make a decision about how to deal with. Giving in to Russian demands was rejected as an option, and some consideration was given to invasion. Ultimately, officials decided that this would be too dangerous, and they seized upon the idea of simply waiting the blockade out.
For the citizens of Berlin, who only had a month of supplies available, this solution posed an obvious problem. The remedy turned out to be the Berlin Airlift, an ambitious plan to supply all of the fuel, food, and shelter needs of West Berlin by plane. At the peak of the airlift, planes were landing in Berlin every three minutes, and sometimes planes didn't even land, instead shoving out pallets of supplies and zooming out again.
In May 1949, the Russians realized that the Berlin Blockade had not worked as planned, and they lifted the restrictions. The Allies continued to use their established airspace to transport the majority of supplies into the city, as they did not want to become dependent on Soviet-controlled rails and roads. In 1961, frustrated with the use of West Berlin as a way-station for people leaving East Germany, the Soviet Union constructed the Berlin Wall, a massive barrier that bisected the city until 1989.