For almost 30 years this simple booth witnessed a full spectrum of human feelings expressed by the people who passed it by. That was a joy of family reunion, hatred of those turned back to gray reality of East Berlin. That was a curiosity in the eyes of rare foreigners, who were allowed to enter, and boredom in the eyes of tired soldiers guarding what is now the most intriguing icons of Berlin – Checkpoint Charlie.
The year 1961 brought the tension between East and West. Surrounded by the land of Eastern Germany, West Berlin became the island of freedom in the sea of Communism. To prevent the escapes, which number started to grow rapidly the border was strenghtened first by the fence, and later by the wall with numerous watchtowers and sevaral gates named after the letters A,B,C. The gate C – Charlie became the most frequently used entry point, it was the only passing allowed to be crossed by the foreigners.
Today the copy of boot Checkpoint Charlie stays on the place of the original one, dismantled after the reunion in 1990. It became the popular spot for numerous number of tourists, who make the photo with the sandbags, the actor soldiers under the famous sign ‘You are leaving the American Zone’. In the neighbourhood on the place of the destroyed Berlin Wall there is a display of photos showing the history of a place.
More documents and items from the era are gathered in the building next to the boot, changed into the museum ‘ Haus am Checkpoint Charlie ‘. The museum features the original watchtower put for the display inside of the building, and items connected with various ways of escape, like hidden car compartments for run-aways . There are 80 people killed during the attempt of crossing the wall, the last one has been shot in January 1990. There could be much more unofficial deaths, unknown for public. One of the way in which the museum pays the tribute to them is the display and support of the present movements fighting for democracy in different countries of the world.