Berlin Plans Redevelopment of Checkpoint Charlie

By Paul Riegler on 5 December 2019
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The Brandenburg Gate in the 1990s

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie – the name given by the Allies to the popular border crossing between East and West Berlin from 1947 through 1991 – is getting a makeover.

The Senate of Berlin, the executive body governing the city, approved a redevelopment plan for the area around the former checkpoint on Wednesday after yearof public discussion and debate. The plan calls for a public square, a new museum, and housing.

“With broad participation from citizens, a development that will shape the future for this special place is able to get underway,” said Katrina Lompscher, Berlin’s senator for urban development and housing, in a tweet sent by the Senate.

The first portions of the Berlin Wall, which was intended to keep East German citizens from fleeing to West Berlin, were erected in 1961.  Berliners woke up to find a makeshift barricade cutting the city in half.  Last month, European leaders gathered in Berlin to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Today visitors find a replica of the original guardhouse as well as a nearby museum, Mauermuseum (mauer is German for wall) – Museum am Checkpoint Charlie, but little else.

The Checkpoint Charlie guardhouse was deliberately kept simple by the Allies as a sign that they regarded the division of Berlin as a temporary affair. This was in stark contrast to the East German side, which boasted guard towers, concrete barriers, and a shed where departing vehicles underwent searches and heat scans to ensure they weren’t hiding any East Germans fleeing the state.

The checkpoint was, in 1961, the scene of one of the few armed confrontation between the two sides in the Cold War. A potential war was averted when President John F. Kennedy convinced Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw his tanks.

Checkpoint Charlie was occasionally used for prisoner swaps during the Cold War and East Germans flooded its gates when the Berlin Wall came down.

Last month, in an effort to clean up the area, the Berlin government banned a long-standing practice whereby actors dressed as Allied military policemen would pose for photographs after numerous complaints made by tourists.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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