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Berlin Airlift

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
2-3 days
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will be able to understand the purposes and outcomes of the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin blockade as a response to the growing Cold War and as the first battle of the Cold War.

Individual assignment using primary sources – first hand accounts of the Airlift, The Candy Bomber; To Save a City;  Truman Library online resources, newsreels

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students will be able to understand the purposes and outcomes of the Berlin Airlift, the Berlin blockade as a response to the growing Cold War and as the first battle of the Cold War

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Identify causes and consequences of the Cold War
  • Consider the consequences of the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine
  • Compare the Berlin Airlift to current world situations
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • knowledge of Cold War events and participants
  • connection to current events

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

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

1. (K) explains why the United States emerged as a superpower as the result of World War II.

2.(A) analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade, Iron Curtain).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

5. (A) analyzes domestic life in the United States during the Cold War era (e.g., McCarthyism, federal aid to education, interstate highway system, space as the New Frontier, Johnson’s Great Society).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • A+ computer program
  • textbooks
  • videos from airlift
  • Truman Library online resources
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • The Candy Bomber
  • To Save a City
  • Newsreel coverage of the Berlin Airlift
  • Telegrams and memos relating to the Berlin blockade
  • Cartoons
  • Maps of 1948 Europe
  • Timeline of the Airlift
Technology Required

Computer programs ; DVD/TV;  Internet 

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

Students will read background material defining the Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Airlift.

They will complete a fact sheet about the logistics of the Airlift using the book To Save a City.

Students will have time in class to read excerpts from the Candy Bomber and will study the online resources from Truman Library.

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

The assessment will be a 50 point test including definitions, matching, identification of persons involved in the blockade and the airlift. There will be an essay question in which the students relate the blockade and airlift to crises in the world over the last 5 years. They will be encouraged to study natural disasters as well as military interventions around the world.