In the 1960s there was a lot of political stress between the United States and the Soviet Union. Due to the fear of the spread of communism around the world, John F. Kennedy delivered his "Hope for Berlin" speech in Berlin in 1963 to ease those fears. This was in response to the raising of the Berlin Wall dividing the city and the attempted spread of communism throughout Europe. In June of 1948 the Russians, who wanted Berlin, closed all the highways, railroads, and canals from west occupied Germany into western-occupied Berlin. They believed this would make it impossible for the citizens who lived there to get food or anything else they may need and would eventually be able to drive out Britain, France, and the United States. In response to this the U.S. and its allies delivered supplies and food from the air through air drops. These air drops carried more than 2.3 million tons of cargo into West Berlin, during the Berlin airlift an allied supply plane took off or landed every 30 seconds. By spring of 1949 it came apparent that the Soviet blockade had failed. On May 12th, 1949 the Soviets lifted their blockade on the canals, railways and roads into the western half of the city, but the airlift continued to stockpile supplies in Berlin incase the blockade was reinstated [ CITATION His11 l 1033 ]. The purpose of the blockade was so the Communist powers could take over in thought that the allies would retreat and the Communists could win the Cold War.
On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of German Democratic Republic began to build a barbed wire fence between East and West Berlin. The purpose was to keep Western "fascists" from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state. The Berlin wall was a 12 feet tall and 4 feet thick of reinforced concrete topped by an enormous pipe that made climbing it impossible. On the other side of the wall was what was called the "Death Strip" which was soft sand with floodlights, vicious attack dogs, trip-wire machine guns, and patrolling guards with orders to kill escapees on sight.