15. The Eisenhower program failed in its mission to encourage further dissent
Eisenhower’s program, veiled under the image of a humanitarian mission, was presented by Dulles as a means of further destabilizing the East German government. In West Berlin, distribution centers were established at points with relatively easy access to the East. In all, 35 different distribution centers appeared throughout West Berlin. The centers stocked food packages containing flour, fats, dairy products, and vegetables. Eventually, over 5 million packages arrived in West Berlin for distribution. Without acknowledging the American largesse, Ulbricht quashed information regarding its availability. Stasi and the city’s police increased the difficulty of crossing from East Berlin to West Berlin. The East German government responded by eliminating rail, tram, and bus traffic between the divisions of the city. Dulles had planned the operation as demonstrating the East German government’s failure to feed its people.
Instead, most of the food which actually made it into East Berlin went into the black market. The Soviets responded by increasing support to East Germany, which strengthened Ulbricht’s relations with the Soviets and within his own party. America’s allies in Europe viewed the increased tension between East and West Germany with growing alarm as 1953 drew on. A new government in the Soviet Union, increased tensions in Germany, and the intervention by the United States all caused them to protest the American actions. They recognized the humanitarian aspects of the mission, but also viewed it as an unnecessary provocation. By late summer Eisenhower agreed, and the program officially ended in October. By then, Ulbricht had firmly re-established himself as the power in East Germany, with the endorsement of the Soviet Government in Moscow.