The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries began the massive "Berlin airlift", supplying West Berlin with food and other provisions.The Soviets mounted a public relations campaign against the policy change. Once againthe East Berlin communists attempted to disrupt the Berlin municipal elections (as they had done in the 1946 elections), which were held on 5 December 1948 and produced aturnout of 86.3% and an overwhelming victory for the non-communist parties. The results effectively divided the city into East and West versions of its former self. 300,000 Berliners demonstrated and urged the international airlift to continue, and US Air Forcepilot Gail Halvorsen created "Operation Vittles", which supplied candy to German children. In May 1949, Stalin backed down and lifted the blockade.In 1952, Stalin repeatedly proposed a plan to unify East and West Germany under a single government chosen in elections supervised by the United Nations if the new Germany were to stay out of Western military alliances, but this proposal was turned down by the Western powers. Some sources dispute the sincerity of the proposal.NATO beginnings and Radio Free EuropeMain articles: NATO, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Eastern Bloc information disseminationPresident Truman signs theNational Security Act Amendment of 1949 with guests in the Oval Office.Britain, France, the United States, Canada and eight other western European countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty of April 1949, establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). That August, the first Soviet atomic device was detonated inSemipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR. Following Soviet refusals to participate in a German
rebuilding effort set forth by western European countries in 1948, the US, Britain and France spearheaded the establishment of West Germany from the three Western zones of occupation in April 1949. The Soviet Union proclaimed its zone of occupation in Germany the German Democratic Republic that October.Media in the Eastern Bloc was an organ of the state, completely reliant on and subservient to the communist party, with radio and television organizations being state-owned, while print media was usually owned by political organizations, mostly by the local communist party.