Checkpoint Charlie

Photo: A tourist looks [October, 24 2011. ] at a poster showing the standoff of Soviet and American tanks at Checkpoint Charlie.”

”The Allies airlifted supplies into Berlin, and the Soviets relented in May 1949. Berlin and the inner German border remained trip-wire points between the Soviets and Western forces for decades after.  In June 1948, the Soviets tried to force the Western Allies out of Berlin by imposing a land blockade.

Checkpoint Charlie (or ”Checkpoint C”) was one of the most famous border crossing between East and West Berlin between 1945 and 1990, during the Cold War. It lay on the border between Berlin American and Soviet sector and Mitte in East Berlin and Kreuzberg district of Berlin.

The checkpoint was on Friedrichstrasse in Mitte and only employees of the allied military organizations or their embassies, non-German foreigners and employees at the Permanent Representation of West Germany and East German officials had to pass it. The name ”Charlie” is derived from the NATO alphabet and stands for the third alphabet letter. Checkpoint Alpha was crossing the highway at the town of Helmstedt, Checkpoint Bravo was freeway transition Dreilinden just outside Berlin. When the East German leadership tried to curtail the allied Western powers’ rights was in October 1961 Soviet and American tanks with live ammunition opposite each other at Checkpoint Charlie.

The checkpoint was the scene of a number of remarkable escape attempt from East Berlin. Very famous were the refugee Peter Fechters death. Together with his friend Helmut Kulbeik he tried to August 17, 1962 to climb over the wall of the control point’s immediate neighborhood. Kulbeiks escape attempt was successful but Fechter was hit by shots fired at him. Before the eyes of civilian spectators from the West, American soldiers and East German border guards he bled to death on the part of border fortifications called the death strip (Todesstreifen).

The checkpoint was demolished June 22, 1990, as part of the process that led to the reunification of Germany, and now remains only a ’murmuseum, Mauer Museum, this once-important border crossing. Today counts Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous sights in Berlin. It has since 13 August 2000, a lifelike model of the first control hut, murmuseet, the last Kremlin Flag and other items reminiscent of the division of Germany.

Stig Björne