Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

3.5 out of 5 stars 159 Reviews

Friedrichstraße, Corner Kochstraße (030) 25 37 25-0

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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    Wandering The City #8 - Definitely A Tourist Trap!

    by johngayton Updated Oct 8, 2010

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    Checkpoint Charlie For The Tourists!
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    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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    checkpoint Charlie

    by mindcrime Updated Aug 16, 2010

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    checkpoint Charlie
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    Checkpoint Charlie is definitely a site with historical interest. It was one of the crossing points (8 in total) in the Berlin wall from 1961 to 1990.

    Although the Allied guardhouses are now in the Allied museum you can see/take pics at the replica that erected in 2000 (pic 1). The actors will stamp your passport with East German entry stamps! I’m not sure if this will cause any trouble during your future travels though.

    The replica sign also shows the original phrase: “you are now leaving the American sector”
    Near the guardhouse we noticed many pics and info about the history of the wall etc

    Of course you can find more info at the nearby museum(pic 2) where you can see pics of people that escaped, people that heled, I loved some old black and white photographs. There is a lot of information, documents, posters, pics, items etc It is open daily 09.00-22.00

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    Checkpoint Charlie

    by illumina Written Dec 4, 2009

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    The most well-known crossing point of eight in the Berlin wall, Check-point Charlie (Charlie for C; at least 3 allied checkpoints were named alphabetically) was restricted to Allied personnel and foreigners - one of only two open to non-Germans.

    Checkpoint Charlie was removed in 1990, and the Allied guardhouses are now in the Allied museum. A replica of the border post, erected in 2000, is now a tourist attraction on the site at Fredrichstraße.

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    Kind of cheesey, but you have to go anyways

    by Karlie85 Written Oct 10, 2009

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    Checkpoint Charlie (called that because it is the third checkpoint, or Checkpoint C, and the letter C is Charlie in the phonetic alphabet) is the most famous border crossing between what used to be East and West Berlin. There is
    nothing original on the site anymore. The original checkpoint was relocated in 1990 and is now at the Allied Museum, which we didn't visit. The guardhouse is a copy of what the first guardhouse would have looked like when the wall first went up in 1961. The sign that reads ‘You are now leaving the American sector’ in English, Russian, German and French is also a replica. The best thing about the Checkpoint is just north of it there is an open air display with a lot of information and history of the wall, people who tried to escape, the checkpoint, communism, etc. The area is loaded with other tourists and amongst them are vendors hawking Soviet badges, hats and watches. There are actors dressed as border guards and you can have your picture taken with them or you can get them to stamp your passport for 1 Euro. The actors portraying the Soviet guards aren't even correct, as they are actually wearing Russian uniforms. There is a museum just down the street, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, but we didn't go in. One funny thing about Checkpoint Charlie were the businesses surrounding it playing on the name. My favourites were the Czech Republic tourism office, Czech Point Charlie, and a cafe, Snack Point Charlie.

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  • Checkpoint Charlie, Military Police

    by jbsikes Updated Aug 9, 2009

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    Checkpoint Charlie 1969
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    I worked at Checkpoint Charlie for 9 months in 1968 - 1969. I have to say it was the greatest job and the most fun experience I've ever had, as far as a working environment goes.

    There were several segments to this job. Everything was over seen by G-4, which was the US Military Intelligence community. They had a video camera at the end of the checkpoint and everything that happened out on the street was watched and taped.

    We were a fully armed 5 man team. We'd take turns going up into the "Observation Post", which was on the 4th floor of the building right next to the Checkpoint Charlie guard shack. One man would go up into the O.P., and look out through a small window, which would allow us to look over the entire Checkpoint, which included the East German / Russian side.

    We'd watch and listen for several things. If we heard bomb blasts, or machine gun fire, it might mean that someone was trying to escape East Berlin by crossing the wall. Of course, if this ever happened, which it didn't on my shift, we'd want to be there on the West side of the wall to help the escapee get across, if we could.

    We'd also watch for Russian military vehicles (cars) that would occasionally come through the Checkpoint, as well as the Core of Diplomats, who had total diplomatic immunity and nobody could stop or check them. Later on, when I took over running the checkpoint, I was trained to go out of the shack and physically inspect the vehicle, without stopping or hindering it in any way, as it drove through. I was supposed to report to G-4 if anyone in the vehicle was handcuffed, or unconscious, or whatever. Even if they were, there was nothing anybody could do, except report it. It was a black Mercedes with tag number CD 0125. I remember it well.

    I remember once, across the wall, the Russian Military was putting on a parade with all of their armaments; and there were large missiles, and rocket launchers, complete with rockets, as well as tanks, other military vehicles and lots of Russian Soldiers. It was quite a sight to see.

    There was this one Opera singer who would pass through the Checkpoint regularly, on his way to sing at the Berlin Opera, which was in East Berlin. I thought he was an interesting fellow.

    We had another little shack up at the corner, where we’d also take turns on post. I really enjoyed being up there, as Germans walk a lot and the German women have very beautiful and shapely legs. At the age of 19, you can tell where my head was at. It was at Checkpoint Charlie that I saw my first mini skirt, and they were truly “mini”, worn by some very lovely Australian girls.

    People from all over the planet came through Checkpoint Charlie.

    I don’t mean to infer that we were unprofessional in any manner, as we were not. We went through a formal Inspection every day, before going to work, and we looked very professional. Checkpoint Charlie was THE most public display of American Military Police in the world, and we had to look good. I remember some tourists telling me one day that they didn’t believe my boots were only polished and not Patent Leather. We used to melt candle wax onto our boots, and then run hot water over it so as to melt the wax into the pores, before we’d polish them. They looked even better than Patent Leather, in my opinion.

    After being there for about 3 months, I got the combination to the safe, which had all the secret info in it. I learned everything about Checkpoint Charlie there was to learn, and not long after that I became the Team Leader, second only to my NCOIC (non commissioned officer in charge), which was Sergeant Cavanaugh.

    Interesting story about Sergeant Cavanaugh. He was married to an East Berlin woman, and spoke perfect German. He would help me when I was trying to learn some of the German language. I remember how nervous I was when using my 1st complete sentance, as I went into the cafe next door: "Pommes frites, bitta" ("French fries, please.") I guess the East Germans offered Sergeant Cavanaugh an opportunity that he couldn’t refuse, as one day he got into his car and ran the checkpoint; deserting the US Army and joining the East German Army. I never saw him again. Now, with the wall down, maybe I can look him up again the next time I’m in Berlin.

    Once a man came from East Berlin and stopped at the Checkpoint, and asked who was in charge. I talked with him. He asked me if I would deliver some papers to the President of the United States, and I told him “Sure I would.” He told me that he had given the same papers to the Soviets, as well as the East Germans, and wanted to make sure the Americans had this info, as well. I accepted his “papers”, and let him walk out the door. When I looked at the “papers”, they were detailed plans of a 3 tiered missile propulsion system. I immediately picked up the phone and called G-4, and was instructed to detain him for pickup. I ran down the road and found him, and asked him some more questions about his system. He was more than happy to talk with me about it. In just a few minutes an unmarked car stopped, and two plain clothes men escorted him into the car.

    One day we were notified that President Nixon was possibly going to come and tour Checkpoint Charlie. I knew we would be checked out by the Intelligence Community, and was not surprised when a supposedly drunk American, carrying a ½ empty bottle of Jim Beam Whiskey, walked into the Military Police shack and started joking, asking questions and talking with us. I knew he was CIA, and was quite disappointed that he had failed to fool me any at all. He acted drunk, and he had the 1/2 empty bottle of booze to prove it, but there was no smell of whiskey, at all. Seemed to me that a man with over a million dollars worth of training would have thought of that. I was courteous, but kicked him out immediately, which is what I’m sure he wanted to see happen.

    We’d drive to Checkpoint Charlie from the Military Police compound every working day, and on the way we’d always do a communications check over the radio. I still clearly remember this seemingly insignificant work day event. The Military Police Headquarters had the code name of "Tough Emblem", and we were "Tough Emblem Charlie".

    It went … “Tough Emblem, this is Tough Emblem Charlie, Commo Check (communications check), over.

    Tough Emblem Charlie, this is Tough Emblem, we hear you Lima Charlie (loud & clear). How us, over.

    Tough Emblem, this is Tough Emblem Charlie, we hear you same. Over and out.”

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    The museum

    by lina112 Written Jul 22, 2009

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    This museum explains passionately the cold war years, with particular emphasis on the history and horror of the Berlin Wall. Exposure hardens when documenting the courage and ingenuity demonstrated that some citizens of the GDR to the west across balloon aeroestaticos in hidden compartments in cars and even a submarine.

    Este museo explica apasionadamente los años de la guerra fria, poniendo especial enfasis en la historia y el horror del muro de berlin. La exposición se endurece cuando documente la valentía y la ingenuidad que demostraron algunos ciudadanos de la RDA al cruzar al oeste en globos aeroestaticos, en compartimentos ocultos en coches e incluso en un submarino uniplaza.

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    You are leaving the American section......

    by lina112 Written Jul 22, 2009

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    The Phonetic Alphabet American inspired the name of the third checkpoint ally in Berlin after the Second World War. Symbol of the Cold War, was the main gateway between the two halves of the city to the Allies, Germans and non-diplomats from 1961 to 1990.
    To commemorate his historical legacy, Checkpoint Charlie has been partially rebuilt. There is an army checkpoint in the United States and a replica of the famous sign that read "You are leaving the American section."

    El alfabeto fonetico americano inspiró el nombre del tercer puesto de control aliado en Berlin despues de la segunda guerra mundial. Simbolo de la guerra fria, fue la principal puerta de acceso entre las dos mitades de la ciudad para los aliados, los no-alemanes y los diplomáticos desde 1961 hasta 1990.
    Para conmemorar su legado histórico, Checkpoint Charlie ha sido parcialmente reconstruido. Hay una garita del ejercito de los Estados Unidos y una replica del famoso rótulo que decía "Usted está abandonado el sector americano".

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    Berlin Wall: Checkpoint Charlie

    by Tom_Fields Written Feb 27, 2009

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    Leaving the American sector
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    During the Cold War, this was the crossing point between the American and Soviet sectors of the divided city. Over the years, a number of desperate East Germans escaped, and others died in the attempt. This museum pays homage to them.

    When President Reagan gave his immortal speech in 1987, saying "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!", few would have believed that it would happen a mere two years later. Of course, itwas the locals who actually did it. But now, the memories are fading. Here is where one can see how it was.

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  • iblatt's Profile Photo

    Mauermuseum: Haus am Checkpoint Charlie

    by iblatt Updated Feb 21, 2009

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    The Beetle that made it across the border
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    This museum was founded in 1962 by Rainer Hilderbrandt as a local initiative in a small 2.5 room apartment. Its displays were a protest against the wall and the DDR border security actions. Today, years after the fall of the wall, it is a living testimony to the events of those years: Those who found the most ingenious ways to escape (see my photos), the helpers, the dramatic events that took place at the wall.

    Some of the material is presented as posters densely packed with text and black-and-white photographs, with lots of information in small letters; however, there are also many impressive exhibits which speak for themselves, such as a Volkswagen Beetle used to smuggle people across the border. The museum's location at Checkpoint Charlie makes you feel that you are right in the point in space and time where all these events happened.

    My feet were getting sore after a long day of museums and walks, and I sat down in the movie screening room and watched a full-length movie about an East German family's escape to the West in a hot-air balloon.

    I strongly recommend visiting this museum.

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  • darkjedi's Profile Photo

    Checkpoint Charlie

    by darkjedi Updated Sep 12, 2008

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    Numerous legends and agent stories are told about Checkpoint Charlie. The former border crossing point between East and West Berlin was the place where Soviet and American tanks stood face to face, after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

    From 1961 to 1990, Checkpoint Charlie in the »Friedrichstraße, was the only border crossing point for the Allies, foreigners, employees of the Permanent Representation and officials of the GDR. Today, the checkpoint is commemorated by a border sign and a soldier's post. A copy of the former Western Allied guardhouse was erected on the original place in 2000.

    For one Euro you can get your photo taken with the guards, and also there is a stand that will stamp your passport with East German entry stamps and visas. I wasn't that impressed but my girlfriend loved it, especially when the Russian officer tried to take her away claiming their was a problem with her freshly stamped Soviet visa.

    Be aware that some governments are not happy with 'toy' visa stamps in passports, but we have used hers many times since and no one has ever pointed them out at passport control and asked "What the hell is this?" so chances are they won't be a problem.

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  • mvtouring's Profile Photo

    Checkpoint Charlie

    by mvtouring Written Jul 13, 2008

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    Checkpoint Charlie was the best known border crossing between East and West. In October 1961 American and Russian tanks faced each other here, when the USA intervened to defend the fundamental rights of Berlin's special status. Many times Checkpoint Charlie was the scene of demonstrations. It was here where Peter Fechter blead to death before the eyes of the world. Finally on 22 June 1990 Checkpoint charlie was demolished. Today you will find students there dressed in the diff uniforms to show us what it used to look like.

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  • wanderingbilly's Profile Photo

    CROSSING THE DIVIDE

    by wanderingbilly Updated May 29, 2008

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    CHECKPOINT CHARLIE
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    CHECKPOINT CHARLIE IS THE MOST FAMOUS BORDER CROSSING IN THE WORLD.
    "CHARLIE" SAT ON FRIEDRICHSTRASSE AND WAS THE CROSSING BETWEEN EAST AND WEST GERMANY DURING THE COLD WAR.
    THE NAME "CHARLIE" CAME FROM THE NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET..
    HELMSTEDT BORDER CROSSING WAS "A" ALPHA
    DREILINDEN CROSSING WAS "B" BRAVO
    AND FRIEDRICHSTRASSE CROSSING WAS "C" CHARLIE.. CHECKPOINT CHARLIE.
    THE HUT WHERE ALL THE TOURISTS GET THEIR PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN IS NOT THE ORIGINAL, IT WAS REMOVED ON THE 22ND OF JUNE 1990..
    THE ORIGINAL IS IN AN ALLIED WAR MUSEUM IN BERLIN.
    A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL GUARDHOUSE WAS PUT IN PLACE ON AUGUST 13TH 2000.
    CHECKPOINT CHARLIE WAS THE SCENE FOR A TENSE STAND-OFF BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN TANKS... BETWEEN17.00 ON THE 27TH OCTOBER 1961 AND 11.00 ON THE 28TH OCTOBER 1961 THE WORLD HELD ITS BREATH AS THE TWO SUPER POWERS FACED EACH OTHER OVER THE BORDER AT CHECKPOINT CHARLIE..BOTH SETS OF TANKS WERE LOADED WITH LIVE MUNITIONS AND READY TO FIRE..RUSSIAN PREMIER KHRUSHCHEV AND U.S PRESIDENT KENNEDY PLAYED HARD BALL.. IN THE END A RUSSIAN TANK MOVED BACK FIRST FOLLOWED BY AN AMERICAN TANK..THE WORLD BREATHED A SIGH OF RELIEF..
    ALL OUT WAR HAD BEEN AVERTED.
    ALSO AT THE CHECKPOINT YOU CAN SEE LARGE PHOTOS OF THE LAST AMERICAN & RUSSIAN
    SOLDIERS TO LEAVE THE CHECKPOINT..
    THUS BRINGING TO AN END THIS CHAPTER OF THE COLD WAR.

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  • seasonedveteran's Profile Photo

    Tourist Trap

    by seasonedveteran Written Apr 12, 2008

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    This was once a real threshold between the communist russian and capitalist american side of the Cold war era for Berlin, but today it is nothing more than two pretty cool signs simulating russian and american soliders warning you of leaving or entering the parts, and of course souvenir shops galore.

    The souvenir shops are very good here, so if you are into that...I personally want a souvenir which is not obtained at a souvenir shop, thus making it authentic and genuine.

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    Border

    by Glbtrotter Written Apr 4, 2008

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    Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western allies to a crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold war, located at the junction of Friedrichstraße with Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße (Wall Street). Located in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood, which was divided by the Berlin Wall. Many other sector crossing points existed in Berlin, but this is definitely the most notorious one.

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    Where East met West

    by deeper_blue Written Apr 2, 2008

    Checkpoint was the famous meeting point of the Soviet east and the capitalist west, no trace of it remains, only the sentry point and two large pictures of American/Soviet soldiers. The street is full of restaurants adn museums. If you don't remember the stand off and monumental fall of the wall, go to the museum or outdoor exhibits.

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Comments (1)

  • Jan 7, 2013 at 3:02 AM

    The Mauer Museum is really interesting. It tells the story of many persons who escaped or tried to escape from the DDR. It is impressive how creative their ideas were and what they risked for their freedom. It is a must-see in Berlin as it helps to understand the terrible history of this city.

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