• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Checkpoint Charlie

Anna Croall · 9 Nov 2009, 11:14

Published: 09 Nov 2009 11:14 GMT+01:00

Checkpoint Charlie then

Checkpoint C, most commonly known as Checkpoint Charlie, was a border crossing point that stood at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Kochstrasse in central Berlin. It was established as soon as Berlin was divided and became the site of a famous stand-off between Soviet and American tanks after the construction of the Wall in 1961. Afterwards, it became an international symbol of Berlin’s division.

As the years of division passed, this checkpoint became increasingly asymmetrical. Soviet troops built an extensive network of zig-zag barriers, a watchtower and a multi-lane car shed, across from the relatively bare Western allied checkpoint. The site became the crossing point for Allied forces, and one of only two for foreign travellers.

The site was the backdrop to several Cold War tragedies, including the escape attempt by East German teenager Peter Fechter. Trying to flee to the West in August 1962, Fechter was shot down by border guards. Lying next to the barbed wire on the Eastern side, Fechter was left to die, as Western troops could not enter and Eastern guards were afraid to approach.

The image and story of Peter Fechter became, and remains, one of the most well-known reminders of the brutality of the Berlin Wall. His death triggered massive protests and the construction of a memorial, which still stands today.

Even after the wall came down, Checkpoint Charlie remained an official crossing point until full German reunification almost a year later.

Checkpoint Charlie now

Checkpoint Charlie today is one of Berlin’s most famous stops on sightseeing tours. The private museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie has long been a favourite with visitors, even though the official Wall memorial and documentation centre on Bernauerstrasse is far more comprehensive.

“The museum seems to be frozen in time – it gives the impression that the Wall is still outside,” Dr Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall memorial foundation, told The Local.

Despite the tourist attention still given to the site, nothing of the original checkpoint remains after the final watchtower was torn down in 2000. The guard house that now marks the checkpoint is a replica of the original from 1961.

“It is a very difficult place in a way, but seems to be something tourists are interested in. The checkpoint produced lots of images in our collective memory, and, as an allied checkpoint, saw many international visitors,” Klausmeier said.

Bornholmerstrasse

Story continues below…

Friedrichstrasse Station

Glienicke Bridge

The Brandenburg Gate

Related links:

Anna Croall (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

NEWS_NOT_YET_IMPORTED
Today's headlines
Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Symbols of migrant plight to go on show in Bonn museum
Photo: DPA

A people smugglers' car, a dinghy and a life jacket are among items related to Europe's migration crisis due to go on display at a German museum.

Brexit
Green party demand 'quick and easy' citizenship for Brits
Photo: DPA

The Green party has called for Brits living in Germany to be offered a painless path to obtaining dual citizenship as to "reassure them over the future".

Berlin the new London? 10m2 flat to rent for €750 a month
Photo: Immonet.de.

This shoebox apartment in the gentrified Bergmann-Kiez neighbourhood may be a sign that the tides are turning for Berlin’s comparatively cheap housing market.

Far-right AfD reach record high in national poll
AfD leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) was backed by 16 percent of respondents in a new poll, which was a new high for the upstart populist party.

Bautzen youth beat up pensioner in racist attack
Photo: DPA

In the Saxon town of Bautzen, which has become a byword for racism and anti-migrant sentiment, two youths have attacked a 72-year-old man, shouting 'foreigners out'.

German lawmakers ratify landmark Paris climate accord
The German parliament (Bundestag). Photo: DPA.

Germany's lower of house of parliament on Thursday ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, following in the footsteps of 60 other countries that have committed to the landmark agreement designed to stem the planet's rising temperatures.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
5,753
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd