Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known crossing point between both sides of the Berlin Wall from 1961 until 1990. It was also one of the three border control points under US-American supervision. It intersected the Soviet and the US-American sectors, thereby both East and West Berlin districts Berlin Mitte and Berlin Kreuzberg. The border control point has been established due to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Its main goal was to document the border crossing of Western Allied military staff, the Soviet military liaison mission and foreign diplomats. Of course it provided information about their respective stay in the German Democratic Republic. This crossing point was named after the third letter of the international spelling alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie …). (www.berlinermaueronline.de)
Through its existence Checkpoint Charlie has become the stage for spectacular escapes from East Berlin. For that matter the death of the East German fugitive Peter Fechter was especially tragic. He blead to death the 17th of August 1962 after he received several gunshot wounds without any warning. He had tried to jump over the wall very close to Checkpoint Charlie. Three East German citizens broke 29th of August 1986 through the barricade in a 7.5 tone heavy truck, fully loaded with gravel. Hans-Peter Spitzner from Karl Marx City was the last fugitive having escaped through Checkpoint Charlie. He crossed the border together with his daughter stuffed in the trunk of an allied vehicle.
Checkpoint Charlie has been officially dismantled in a commemoration service June 1990, before the German reunification. In present days it still can be visited in Berlin’s Allied Museum. As a commemoration site Checkpoint Charlie is amongst Berlin’s most famous and visited sights. A true to the original replica of the first building has been revealed 13th of August 2000. The stacked sand sacks in front have been filled with cement, instead of sand.
The original objects, used in escaping over, under or through the Wall, can be seen in the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The stories of the fugitives, who risked their lives for freedom, are documented there. Already in June 1963 the museum opened doors in direct vicinity to the Berlin Wall. It showed the history of arguably the most tightly guarded border in the world. The museum worked with journalists, smugglers and activists for the sake of delivering a clear and vivid representation of the backgrounds, which led to the construction of the Berlin Wall, as well as other decisive events in East German history.
Visitors may gaze upon original tools in the exhibition rooms, which were used during the escapes from East Germany. From getaway cars to hot-air balloons, from self-made mini-submarines to elusive surf boards – the exhibition shows the heights people’s creativity reached, when it came to fighting for their freedom. Next to the presentation boards and the escape objects visitors may admire some works of artists, who have expressed the separation of Berlin in their art.
The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is opened for visitors (except during holidays) every day from 9:00 o’clock in the morning until 10:00 o’clock in the evening. The entrance fee is set between 8.50 € und 12.50 €.
Our Cityhostel Berlin lies in direct vicinity to Checkpoint Charlie and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. Both can be reached in about 7 Minute walk. A visit is strongly recommended, as this is one of the best locations for experiencing first-hand the history of the Berlin Wall.
Mauermuseum – Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, Friedrichstraße 44, 10969 Berlin, http://www.mauermuseum.de