Starting on 22 September 1961, Allied border guards registered members of the American, British, and French armed forces at Checkpoint Charlie before they crossed into East Berlin. Foreign tourists could obtain information here about visiting East Berlin.
Checkpoint “Charlie” took its name from the NATO alphabet: the members of the Allied armed forces reached the Berlin city center via Checkpoint A (Alpha) near Helmstedt, the point at which they crossed into the GDR from the Federal Republic of Germany; Checkpoint B (Bravo) near Drewitz, where they left the GDR and crossed into West Berlin; and Checkpoint C (Charlie) at Friedrichstrasse, where they left West Berlin for East Berlin.
Because it had been designated as a crossing point for the members of the Allied armed forces, the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint became the scene of a confrontation between U.S. and Soviet tanks in October 1961. As a symbol of the conflict between the two world powers, “Checkpoint Charlie” became the city’s most famous border crossing.
Today an installation by the artist Frank Thiel, a Berlin Wall History Mile info board, and a pillar of the Berlin Wall information and orientation system recall the former crossing point. The open-air exhibition “Checkpoint Gallery” and the temporary exhibition “Black Box Cold War,” with its many media stations, explore the international dimension of German and European division. A permanent “Center on the Cold War – Exhibition at Checkpoint Charlie” is planned for the new building that is to go up on the privately owned property here.
The Wall museum Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, which has put up a replica on Friedrichstrasse of the first guardhouse used by the Allies, is also located at the former checkpoint.
Visitors who have a little extra time should follow Zimmerstrasse east to Charlottenstrasse to visit the memorial for Peter Fechter, away from the crowds touring the former checkpoint, or take a look at the remains of the Wall on the grounds of the Topography of Terror, to the west of Checkpoint Charlie.