Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. At the height of the Berlin Crisis in 1961, American and Soviet tanks faced each other here.
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Former border sign at Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie after the opening of the border.
Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin in October of 1961 and October of 2014. In the last days of October 1961, American and Soviet tanks took up positions here at the GDR border crossing point Checkpoint Charlie after members of the US mission were asked at the GDR border post to identify themselves as they passed through the Allied checkpoint.
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The former border crossing Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most important and most visited sights in Berlin. The spot on Friedrichstraße that now attracts huge crowds of tourists from Germany and abroad used to be a military checkpoint during the time of German division. Even though the Wall has long since disappeared and the turnpikes and watchtowers of Checkpoint Charlie have been replaced by replicas, the interest in the former border crossing remains high. The Wall Museum is also located in the immediate vicinity.
In the middle of Friedrichstraße, Berlin's main traffic axis from north to south, a large mast with the image of a soldier rises into the sky. At the foot of the mast is a small wooden barrack with flags and sandbags. The sacks have long since been filled with concrete instead of sand and the barracks are a replica, but that doesn't change the popularity of the site: Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most exciting and well-known sights in Berlin. When Berlinw was divided into East and West, the former military checkpoint was controlled by the Americans. Only foreigners, employees of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany in the GDR, and GDR officials were allowed to cross the border here.
Important Site of the Cold War
There was hardly any other place where the atmosphere of the Cold War was as frosty as at Checkpoint Charlie. The border crossing gained notoriety in October 1961 after the construction of the Berlin Wall: in the last days of October, American and Soviet tanks took up positions here after members of the US mission were asked to identify themselves at the GDR border post when passing through the Allied checkpoint. Soviet and Allied tanks faced each other with live ammunition and a third world war almost ensued. In the years that followed, the checkpoint was the scene of spectacular escapes which often ended in death.
Checkpoint Charlie as an Open-Air Museum
After the German reunification, the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie was quickly torn down. The barracks you can visit at the site today are a replica of the former border post. Various tourist facilities have gradually sprung up in the area, bringing the historically significant site to life. In the Wall Museum, visitors can learn about the numerous escape attempts from East to West Berlin and view various escape objects. Within walking distance, the Asisi Panorama Berlin offers a very personal and artistic view of divided Berlin.
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Last edited: 18 March 2022