Russia and Germany have a pretty long and turbulent relationship, which became particularly complicated during the Cold War. In the aftermath of WWII and the Nazi Party’s defeat, Germany was pretty much up for grabs, and subsequently split into four zones by the winning powers; the UK, US, France, and the Soviet Union.

The trouble was, each country had conflicting visions for the future of Germany, and these differences lay at the heart of the beginning of the Cold War. After WWII, Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin wanted Germany to stay as weak and divided as possible because the country had twice attacked Russia in the previous 30 years. In order to keep Germany feeble, Stalin installed a Communist government, controlled by Moscow, in what was to become East Germany. Shortly after Germany was split into four zones in 1945, Berlin was also separated in the same way. This happened in spite of the fact that the capital city lay within the Soviet zone of occupation, and was as such a constant irritant to the Soviet Union’s leaders.

But now, back to the zones of Berlin! By 1949 the UK, US and France had amalgamated their zones of occupation, which became known as Trizonia. The Western Allies did this as they wanted to rebuild an economic powerhouse in West Germany to act as a foil against the spread of Communism, as part of the Truman Plan. As you can imagine, Stalin didn’t like this. But what he hated even more was the Western Allies’ refusal to leave Berlin. So, in a desperate bid to purge the Western Allies from the city, Stalin kicked the Berlin Blockade off in 1948, marking the beginning of the Cold War.

As you might have started to gather, Berlin was something of a barometer of the temperature of the Cold War. The Berlin Blockade of 1948 to 1949 marked the beginning of the Cold War, the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 was its high point, and the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of the Cold War.