Checkpoint Charlie was a hotspot of the Cold War. The Allied checkpoint opposite the Friedrichstrasse border crossing served as one of the most important crossings between East and West Berlin. Here, shortly after the Wall was built, Soviet and American tanks stood directly opposite each other. Today, about four million people from all over the world visit Checkpoint Charlie every year.
Students in the Master's program Public History at Freie Universität Berlin have intensively studied the history of the Allied checkpoint as part of a seminar. In the following articles, they report on selected historical sites and objects that tell the story of Checkpoint Charlie.
Like many Western Allied soldiers in Berlin, U.S. soldiers visited the Soviet sector, benefiting from the cheaper prices there and catching a glimpse of life beyond the Wall. These private excursions were, at the same time, deeply political: the Western Allies thus showed their presence and underlined their right to access all sectors of the city. To avoid dangerous provocations, the Army provided its excursionists with their own manual. more
Today, Checkpoint Charlie is a sought-after destination for millions of tourists every year. It used to be the centre of Monika Scheffe's life. At the end of the war, she fled with her parents from Karlsbad to Berlin as a small child. She grew up in the direct vicinity of Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin. more
For many Berliners and tourists, Checkpoint Charlie is one of the city's most famous landmarks. The site is a reminder of the divided Berlin during the Cold War and the tank confrontation of October 27, 1961, when Soviet and American tanks faced off at the checkpoint at the crossing of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße. Today, the light box installation by Frank Thiel is located there. It draws attention to the military presence of the Allies in Berlin and provides a face to the soldiers stationed there at that time. more
Peter Fechter is one of the most well-known victims of the Berlin Wall. GDR border guards shot the 18-year-old as he tried to flee to West Berlin. Today, a memorial column in Berlin-Mitte, 200 meters away from the former Checkpoint Charlie, commemorates his death. It is the result of many years of commitment to the culture of remembrance. more