As Checkpoint Bravo was a border crossing point and this was the time of the cold war with tension on both sides, the East Germans also had to have a similar crossing point which was heavily guarded. Unfortunately most of what was there was demolished on 1993 and has been changed into a business park. But there is a command post which has been turned into a museum with information about the inner border. The museum has limited opening hours between 1100 - 1600 hours on Sundays between May to October. When the museum is closed the area outside is accessible and there are a number of metal information posts in German.
The second and last Checkpoint Bravo was on the realigned route of the A115, the crossing was also known as Grenzübergangsstelle Drewitz-Dreilinden. This was used by the western allies and it was the busiest crossing point because it was the shortest route between West Berlin and West Germany. The checkpoint was built between 1968 and 1972 and was a more robust construction than the original Checkpoint Bravo. The original buildings are still there but if you drive past on the Autobahn the whole area has an appearance of an abandoned service station, though commercial drivers of lorries and vans seem to use the large parking area as a rest stop. The buildings were designed by Rainer Rümmler and Hans Joachim Schröder and they have a very modern appearance. There are various plans afoot to change the buildings into a hotel with diner and a club. So it is better to visit sooner rather than later before it all changes.
There are different ways to get to the site. The easiest is to catch a #118 bus from Wannsee Bahnhof to Isoldestrasse. I believe you can also catch the #620 bus. Having got off the bus turn right off Potsdamer Chaussee on to Isoldestrasse. This is a quiet road and you can walk along a footpath for the last part of the journey. Do not get confused and walk further along Potsdamer Chaussee and then use the live slip road which joins the Autobahn. I walked from the Checkpoint Bravo Museum through the woods and there is a set of steps at the back of the site.
Most visitors to Berlin are aware of Checkpoint Charlie which is located at the southern end of Friedrichstraße in Kreuzberg but as someone who wants to visit the not so well known, I decided to visit Checkpoint Bravo. Very few visitors ever go to what was a very busy checkpoint during the cold war. There were in fact 2 Checkpoint Bravos. The original, which was smaller, was closed when the Autobahn route was changed by the GDR at the end of the 1960s. Originally because of the unusual route, the Autobahn ran for 2kms through East Germany after the crossing point. The route was changed so you entered West Berlin immediately after the checkpoint. There is little left of the old checkpoint. Three flagpole for use by the allies. Behind the flagpoles there was originally a long wooden hut, which was the checkpoint building. The building was unfortunately demolished soon after it was closed. The only building still standing, is the rest stop restaurant but as it was abandoned over 40 years ago and it is in a dilapidated condition. The site has recently been sold to a mystery buyer, so its future is uncertain When I visited there had been a snowstorm the previous day so it was not possible to pick up on the old markings and other signs of the old Autobahn route but I will probably revisit on a warmer day.
Photo 1 is of the 3 flagpoles of the western allies. The checkpoint building was immediately behind the flagpoles.
Photo 2 is of the old rest stop restaurant
Photo 3 shows some of the damage inside the old restaurant
Photo 4 shows part of the old Autobahn route
Photo 5 was shot on the old Autobahn Bridge over the Teltow Canal
This tower gives you a great view over Berlin and is free to enter. There is a lift to the top but it wasn't working so I took the stairs. From the top, you can look out over a section of the wall that is still standing which has been preserved by the Stuttgart architects Kollhoff and Kollhoff. You can see a watchtower and the strip of No Man's Land between what was East and West Berlin. Looking up Bernauer Strasse, you can see a row of metal poles signifying where the wall stood and you can also see murals on the walls of houses and buildings showing pictures from the history of the Berlin Wall.
Just across the road and slightly up the hill from the viewing platform, you can visit the Chapel of Reconciliation and listen to accounts of people's recollections of divided Berlin using the various information points.
There are also points on the ground marked by plaques which show where people attempted to escape over the wall and where tunnels were built.
This time i went to visit another part of the old Berlin's wall. It's not at Postdamer Platz but at Nordbahnohf and believe me it's totally different. It's not a tourist trap and there you can "feel" how hard it'd be to live at the time of the divided Berlin. There is also a monument for the persons that lost their life trying to excape. The monument is not big but have the names of the people, their pictures, the date of the born and of the death. It's so bad to think that someone just died in 1989 when the wall was close to fall. It's a place where you can take your time..walk..watch..think. Most of all it made me think.
There is also a wall museum close to it but i didn't visit it so i don't know how it is.
The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) is arguably the most famous landmark in Berlin. During the time when Berlin was split the wall was built to fully separate the east from the west. Many families were cut off from each other and people who lived in Eastern Berlin who worked in the west had their employment terminated. With Western Berlin thriving many people from the east tried to illegally cross the boarder with deadly consequences. The stop the easterners from relocating to the west the eastern government issued shooting orders which meant that if they saw anyone trying to climb the wall or sneak into the west they were to be shot immediately.
The wall was finally taken down in 1989 although much of the wall is still in existence and is dotted around Berlin in different locations such as in Potsdamer Platz.
The Berlin Wall was a continuous work in progress that evolved over the years. It was not a single wall but a series of well thought out and constructed obstacles. There was an inner wall on the eastern side. Then there was a signal fence which alerted the guards. This was followed by sharp steel spikes, the patrol road, security strip, tank traps to stop cars and finally the border wall. There were also watchtowers every 250 metres, dogs running loose on some sections, landmines and automatic guns that could be set off. At night the border was brightly so much so that it could be seen from space. The inside faces of the wall were painted white so that it would show up escaper better.
Ghost stations in the UK normally refer to railway stations that still exist but have been closed down. Ghost stations had a different meaning during the period the Berlin Wall was in existance. Various lines spanned both east and west Berlin. When the wall went up trains from the west could travel through the eastern section but would slow down at the heavily guarded stations. The stations were normally closed to those in the east to stop escapes. As the tunnels and trains could be used as a means of escape from the east to the west the tunnels were reduced in size at some points so that there was very like clearance in order to prevent persons clinging to the sides of the train. The stations were left in a time warp from 1961, which those riding the trains could see. The west Berlin authorities had to pay dearly to use the eastern side of the city with a large annual payment required. There is a photographic exhibition at the Nordbahnhof of ‘Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin’ which displays the history of the Ghost stations. The Nordbahnhof station was one of those ghost stations which was closed during the Berlin Wall era, though the line remained open. The exhibit is on the mezzanine floor which can view during normal station opening hours. I am sure that the station platform lighting must have special tubes because when you look out of the train windows it always looks dim, atmospheric and eerie.
The watchtower in Schlesisicher Park is one of only three watchtowers that remain in Berlin. The watchtower is 10m in height and 4.2m by 4.2m wide and was built in 1963. It was a command post and was manned by 3 border soldiers and 1 officer and was responsible for a further 18 watchtowers and the electronic security devices for this section of the border. The watchtower was constructed of pre-cast concrete and had 4 floors one of which was underground. The first floor was the staff room with the observation floor above which gave good views on all four sides. After reunification the tower should have been demolished but was saved by the perseverance of the Museum of Forbidden Art. It was classed as a historical monument in 1992. The Museum of Forbidden Art held exhibits in the tower until it ran out of money in 2004 and handed the tower back to the government. It has since been repaired and restored in its original colour.
During our 4 day stay in the Mercure Checkpoint Charlie Hotel we walked past this preserved section of the Berlin Wall each day. There were always people reading the information boards attached to the wall containing photos and history of the Wall which divided Berlin during the Cold War.
Photos showing the district during this period were interesting.
Around the corner to the left was the re enactment of the "Checkpoint Charlie" Guard House where American soldiers contralled movement between East and West Berlin.
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