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Checkpoint Charlie

Listed under Military Museums in Berlin, Germany.

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Looking not much more than a garden shed beside a thick line of white paint, it’s only when you think back to old photos of layers of barbed wire lit by floodlights as steam rises from the ground that you see the real Checkpoint Charlie. One of the most iconic names and mental images of Cold War Berlin, this shed is featured in countless books, possibly most famously by John le Carre in ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’, but also by Ian Flemming and pretty much every other espionage author tackling cold war Germany.  Real spies and smugglers did cross here, this was a high security low flow spot compared to other points along the wall, the images of people being sprayed with bullets while climbing the wire is the stuff of both fiction and non-fiction add to the its attraction.

While the American shed looks tiny and impermanent, the East German facility on the other side of the white line is much larger, with the x-ray machines and numerous guards and dogs needed to do the thorough vehicle checks. The East Germans were the only ones doing checks, the Americans just kept an eye and a gun sight on proceedings. The Stasi called it a less catchy Grenzübergangsstelle ("Border Crossing Point") Friedrich-/Zimmerstraße (I haven’t read any East German spy novels but it is an interesting genre possibility.).

The bad news is that it isn’t the original shed on the site but an authentic replica of the original 60s shed. By the time the wall had come down the wooden shed had been replaced by a metal shed (in line with B&Q maybe) which is now, in its entirety, in the Allied Museum. Nearby is a Checkpoint Charlie Museum telling the story of the border in more detail, as is the Café Eagle another Cold War relic.

Written by  Sophie Edgerton.

Other expert and press reviews

“Checkpoint Charlie and other Berlin Wall stories”

On our rickshaw tour of the sights of Berlin we briefly took in a stop at Checkpoint Charlie. The Berlin half-marathon was in full swing and it was a little incongruous to see reconstructed guardhouse with actors in uniform waiting to have their phograph… Read more...

Written by  heather on her travels. Continue reading on heatheronhertravels

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