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Berlin Airlift

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
2 Class Periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will use primary sources to study the Berlin Blockade and discuss options Truman may have contemplated.

Individual and working with groups:  Using primary sources

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

The Cold War is a part of my curriculum and the Berlin Airlift was a key event early on in the Cold War.  It set a tone which would exist for the majority of the Cold War.  Therefore, it is an important event which should be covered for this class

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • The student will brainstorm alternatives to getting past the blockade. 
  • The student will identify and analyze pro's and con's to those alternatives
  • The student will argue and defend their choice on what Truman should do


District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • Shawnee Mission School District:  3020.44: Analyze from primary sources the ideas and events created by individuals, groups, during the 1920-1945 period
  • Kansas Department of Education:  The student uses a working knowledge of significant individuals, groups, ideas, events, eras and developments in the history of Kansas, the United States, and the world, using essential researching and analytical skills
    • Benchmark 4:  The students engages in historical thinking skills

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • All primary documents used were taken online from Truman Library: See attached documents
    • Negotiation Document:  "State Department Press Release," September 26, 1948
    • Breaking Through Blockade:  "State Department Summary of Telegrams," July 13 and 20, 1948
    • Pulling out of Berlin:  "State Department Summary of Telegrams," June 28, 1948
    • Airlift:  "Summary of Berlin Airlift Developments,” October 21, 1948


Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

This lesson will be taught using primary documents and PowerPoint.  I will attach the PowerPoint lesson.  Feel free to edi