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Who Controlled West Berlin During the Cold War

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Cold War Tour Berlin

The division between East and West during the Cold War affected many regions, including the city of Berlin. During this tumultuous period, West Berlin found itself in a unique situation, politically and geographically. In this article, we will explore the various entities that had control over West Berlin during the Cold War.

The Division of Berlin

Following World War II, Berlin, the capital of Germany, was divided into four sectors: American, British, French, and Soviet. These sectors eventually formed the basis for the division between East and West Berlin.

In 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established, while the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was formed in the Soviet sector. The political division of Germany also applied to Berlin.

Controlled by the Western Allies

West Berlin, located deep within East German territory, was an enclave controlled by the Western Allies. The United States, the United Kingdom, and France had joint control over this region.

The Western Allies maintained their presence in West Berlin to demonstrate their commitment to the defense of democracy and provide a symbol of hope in the face of Soviet influence. Despite being surrounded by East Germany, West Berlin retained its distinct Western character.

Allied Military Presence

The Western Allies stationed military forces in West Berlin as a deterrent against any potential Soviet aggression. American, British, and French troops were stationed in various locations throughout the city.

These military forces provided security and support for the local population, ensuring the continuation of vital services and infrastructure.

Maximal Autonomy for West Berlin

Unlike East Germany, which was under Soviet influence and controlled by a centralized government, West Berlin was allowed a higher degree of autonomy.

The Western Allies encouraged democratic practices and allowed the citizens of West Berlin to elect their own local government, known as the Senate of Berlin.

Impact of the Berlin Wall

In 1961, as tensions between East and West escalated, the East German government initiated the construction of the Berlin Wall. The wall physically divided Berlin and served as a barrier between East and West.

For over 20 years, the Berlin Wall stood as a symbol of the division between communism and democracy. It effectively restricted movement between East and West Berlin.

The Four-Power Agreement

In 1971, the Four-Power Agreement was reached between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. This agreement reaffirmed the rights and responsibilities of the four occupying powers in relation to Berlin.

According to the agreement, the Western Allies retained their rights and responsibilities in West Berlin, while the Soviet Union had control over East Berlin.


During the Cold War, West Berlin was a unique Western enclave located deep within East German territory. It was controlled jointly by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, and enjoyed a higher degree of autonomy compared to its communist surroundings.

The presence of the Western Allies provided security and stability for the citizens of West Berlin. The division between East and West was symbolized by the Berlin Wall, which acted as a physical barrier and restricted movement.

Despite the challenges posed by the Cold War, West Berlin persevered as a beacon of hope and a testament to the endurance of democracy during a time of intense ideological conflict.

Who Controlled West Berlin During the Cold War