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Checkpoint Charlie was as the best known place to cross the border from one side of Berlin to another (East - West). It is like a symbol of Cold War now, Berlin wall was constructed in 1961 to prevent migration from East to West, as East Germany lost many of population due to it. Checkpoint Charlie was a place to cross with special permission, guarded by soldiers.
There are some interesting stories about it. One tell that two lovers lived in different parts of Berlin and one day Berlin was fenced. Boyfriend risked his life to cross border with a fashionable and fast car, in high speed.
Now it is museum inside, but I haven't visited it. It is more as a mass attraction than serious museum, as I heard.
Checkpoint Charlie, Friedrichstrasse formed at the time of the wall the third checkpoint on the border between East and West Berlijn. From 1961 to 1990 this was the only crossing point for foreigners.Today remains of the checkpoint no longer than one copy of the guardhouse
The fatal border
Checkpoint Charlie is the most famous border point in Berlin. During the times of the divided Berlin, there were 8 lanes for cars and buses travelling between the both parts. Many people tried to escape through this point, some of them were killed. The place now is an important tourist attraction, especially for Americans. You can get your passport stamped with GDR visa for 3 euro, or to buy Soviet military peaked caps. There is also the Museum of Berlin wall, as well as many shops with (expensive) souvenirs.
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The Checkpoint Charlie site that all the visitors flock to see these days, is not the original and from what I can gather, it doesn't even stand in exactly the same place. It is what is left of the facility as it stood at some time during the life of the Wall dividing East from West, I seem to be reading conflicting reports or at least reports that are to me, quite confusing.
In any event, the present display is part of the Mauermuseum which stands nearby and has recorded all the history of the Cold War. The Museum opened two years after the wall was built. It is a mine of information but you really need to have plenty of time to really appreciate what it has to offer and of course, to get your money's worth as the entrance fee is not cheap.
Getting back to the Checkpoint Charlie booth outside, it is manned by actors who portray both the Soviet and American soldiers. You can have a photo taken with them for a small fee. When I say actors, let me add that the ones I saw were not very good actors as they posed on guard whilst smoking cigarettes and talking to each other. The Soviet guard disappeared for lengthy periods of time when I was there as well. Tended to kill the effect for me, I'm afraid.
- Historical Travel
Many visitors to Berlin make it a point to visit a relic Berlin's division - Checkpoint Charlie. For EUR2, you can take pictures with the guy dressed in Soviet army costume in front of the checkpoint. Another EUR2, you can have you passport stamped with the checkpoint stamp. But I would prefer not to do that with your valid passport as it may lead to complications later at the airport. Maybe you can bring along an old expired passport for this!
The Wall Museum (Mauermuseum) is also known as the Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie. The museum documents the events leading to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the attempts of Berliners to cross the wall and finally the fall of the wall itself. There are displays of various original objects used to escape from East Berlin to the West. It also showcases the ingenuity of East Berliners in their quest for freedom.
The museum is open daily from 9am to 10pm. Entrance is EUR12.50.
It is one of the most important symbol of freedom in Berlin. I didn't know much about the history of this landmark, and that is due to my laconic attention span in regards to history. it's one of the entrances between east and west berlin. it is heart wrenching, inspiring
and it sets your priorities straight, if only for a couple of hours.
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CHECK OUT CHECKPOINT CHARLIE
..I , like most who visit Berlin took a visit to Check point Charlie!!.
I know it's the real touristy thing to do but I was very interested to see this site from the military point of view.. Rather a small checkpoint I thought!! ...I don't know why I thought that it would be bigger!!
From the 22nd of September 1961 this ("Checkpoint Charlie") is where all members of the Allied Armed Forces had to register before being able to cross into East Berlin. This was only one of seven border crossing sites that were used . The main border crossing was Drewitz (East Germany) was the buisiest and most used border crossing into West Germany and known in the west as ("Checkpoint Bravo") 4.5 million vehicles and 10 million people passed through these checkpoints a year. Closed in 1990 all that remains today is a guard tower.
To stand and envisage the scenes here of excitement, nervousness, trepidation and dissapointment so many souls must have had while trying to cross from east to west at any of these border crossings with it sometimes all ending in dissapointment , also, I imagined there were so many who had a huge sigh of releif after making it through the crossing.
I was fortunate that there weren't a lot of tourists there the time of my visit to Checkpoint Charlie, and noticeably so many opportunists seeing what they could sell to the few tourists on hand!!...I was taken really by the amount of shops and vendors selling (or trying to sell) all forms of militaria...I guess not only for souvenirs but as militaria has such a huge collection fraternity there were all sorts of military collectables for sale..from uniforms and boots to hats and helmets also a huge variety of badges and insignia in all forms of East German, Russian German and American. Of course a lot being sold as original , but is commonly known as reproduction items..all very colourful and I must say that I noticed that the vendors I talked with were not pushy and sales aggressive as some tend to be in these sorts of table and shop sale venues.
I haven't written much of any history here on "Checkpoint Charlie" here as I really can't add anything to the many tips here on the subject ...suffice to say it's very interesting and worth a look and a few touristy photos. maybe a souvenir !!.
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My first stop
I just couldn't avoid Checkpoint Charlie because it is situated on a way to my hotel. In a day time this place is crowded by courious tourists although, in my opinion, it offers nothing interesting to see.
In my opinion, war is act against humanity, against all what we humans really are. But when the war is finaly over we must face the acts of political stupidity and arrogancy, especially by those who call themselves the world leaders. In the name of whom and in the name of what kind of justice arrogant politicians have decided to devide one country and its people, creating two separate states? It was nothing but act of war after war was over.
Mauermuseum: Haus am Checkpoint Charlie
One of the highlights of our previous trip to Berlin was a visit to this museum. Privately run, it documents the story of the Berlin Wall, and in particular the individual stories of those who sought to escape from the East by risking their lives to cross it. As the website explains:
”The first exhibition opened on the 19 October 1962 in an apartment with only two and a half rooms in famous Bernauer Straße. The street was divided along its whole length; the buildings in the east had been vacated and their windows were bricked up. We suggested that tourists be thankful to those border guards who do not shoot to kill: “See through the uniform!” Some guards saw that we understood, and after their own escapes came to work with us. The large number of visitors encouraged us to look for new premises: on 14 June 1963 the “Haus am Checkpoint Charlie” was opened and became an island of freedom right next to the border. From here, through a small window, escape helpers could observe all movements at the border crossing; escapees were always welcome and supported, escape plans were worked out, and injustice in the GDR was always fought against."
The most interesting of the exhibits are those that relate to these escape attempts. We were fascinated by a small car from which everything that could possibly be considered unnecessary had been removed, leaving space for an escapee and just enough petrol to cross No Man’s Land. There are kites powered with Trabant engines, hot-air balloons, and even a mini-submarine used in an escape via the Baltic Sea. The museum also calls itself “the first museum of international nonviolent protest”. Exhibits relating to protest elsewhere include Mahatma Gandhi’s diary and his sandals.
The Wall came down in 1989, but the Mauermuseum lives on, its exhibits a tribute to those who fought against the harshness of the GDR regime. And having enjoyed it so much last time round we were tempted to go in again. But in the end we decided that our time was too limited to visit again something that would only have changed in its details – and I confess we were also put off by the hefty €12.50 admission charge. But if you can spare the cash and have time to really look round at everything and get your money’s worth, do visit, as there really are some incredible stories told here. And one addition since our 1985 visit is the original of the “You are now leaving the American sector sign” – the one that now stands at Checkpoint Charlie (photo 2) is a replica.
Photography is not allowed, but I had snapped this photo of a display of international passports behind the ticket desk before anyone pointed that out to me!
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A Colorful Candystand!
This stand is just across the corner from Checkpoint Charlie. I thought it makes for a good photo because it was so colorful. Almost any kind of candy you want you can get for a small amount of Euros, but probably its more expensive here than other areas of Berlin just because it is near this famous point.
You see so many tourists in this fashionable area standing to make photos and spend money around. One of the Jewish museums is in the area also so you could do both in a few hours. Here is another link to a great website berlin.de that gives listing of museums of history and other things.
More on candy specifically, just in some of our rambling walks...most areas yo will find when strolling along ice cream shops, backarei´s and sweet shops. One area I recomment is Rathaus Steglitz. If you get off the U-bahn and walk back towards the city´s centre there are many different shops if all kinds, little restaurants, and seems everyone other one is a sweet shop! Why not have a taste here and a taste there...? Costs are very minimal and it always makes me smile. Anything with haselnuss (hazelnuts) and chocalate, some liquer filled or creams.
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This location is recommended if you are a girl with very deep pockets. There is this one massive mall. It has the biggest brands in clothing, perfume, handbags, etc. It also has a supermarket added to it where you can purchase products that are typicaly german.
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I had always thought of Checkpoint Charlie as a bridge, in the darkness, fog rolling in, sinister men wearing trench coats with their hats pulled down over their eyes, secretly wearing Superman underwear... but in reality, when one visits the left over reconstructed building and read through the informative displays, taken in context of the surrounding buildings, the mystic is removed. It seemed almost sterile, except for the emotional stories of those that lost their life attempting to get to the other side. There is a museum in a building next to the Checkpoint, however, I did not check it out.
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Check Point Charlie
Nowadays the Checkpoint is pretty much a tourist trap (complete with purveyors of the usual Eastern European kitsch). If you want to get a feel for the tense atmosphere which arises when a city street is divided by a military-esque control point, head on up to the American Embassy, which is surrounded by its own little Berlin Wall.
Wandering The City #8 - Definitely A Tourist Trap!
Following the erection of the Berlin Wall and the closing of the border between East and West Berlin the East Germans constructed three crossing points which the Allied forces named A, B and C (Alpha, Bravo and Charlie).
Of these Checkpoint Charlie became the best known as this was the only crossing designated for foreigners, diplomats and members of the Allied forces and has developed a sort of immortality having been featured in many spy novels and films.
The East Germans built a fortified infrastructure of sheds and dog-legged through roads and were meticulous about checking documentation and searching vehicles for possible contraband goods. The Allies on the other hand simply built a wooden hut and checks were perfunctory.
After the fall of the Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany the Eastern infrastructure was demolished but an ersatz copy of the original Allied wooden hut was put in place as a tourist attraction. Here you can get your picture taken being checked through by an actor posing as a member of the US Military Police - for a fee of course.
Also in the area is an exposition of the former checkpoint and the privately-owned Wall Museum whose website is below.
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