When you visit Berlin you must visit Checkpoint Charlie. Unless you lived through that time you cannot understand what it would have been like to be cut off from your family and friends, which is what happened during this very sad period of history. Reading the stories on people who escaped and how they did it is chilling. They were incredibly brave and took enormous risks to get from the east to the west. It shows clearly what can be achieved when faced with adversity and spirit to overcome obstacles. When you see some stories and methods used to escape you will be staggered that people escaped successfully.
It is very important you visit Checkpoint Charlie when in Berlin it will make you appreciate how lucky you are that you are not faced with this in your life.
History of Checkpoint Charlie:
Checkpoint Charlie was Berlin’s best known crossing point between what was before 1990 communist East Berlin and the American-controlled sector of democratic West Berlin. In 1961, the East German government unexpectedly constructed a wall along its borders to restrict the flow of East Germans trying to permanently flee East Berlin.
Several checkpoints were erected, each laced heavily with barbed wire and carefully guarded by East German troops. They had instructions to shoot anyone trying to illegally cross over from East Berlin into West Berlin. More than 1,300 East Berliners died trying to escape via other means and locations along the wall.
In response to the East German Government sealing off East Berlin, the Americans built their own checkpoints. The three American checkpoints, Checkpoints A, B & C, were named using the phonetic alphabet. Checkpoint A was known as Checkpoint Alpha, Checkpoint B was Checkpoint Bravo and Checkpoint C was Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was the most well-known of the three because it was the only checkpoint through which diplomatic personnel, American military and non-German visitors could pass into East Berlin.
Unlike the East German checkpoint border house and guards, the American checkpoints were not meant to restrict the movement of people between East and West Berlin. They were mainly there to inform people in no uncertain terms that once they crossed the checkpoint into East Berlin, they were no longer in a democratic society.
Topography of Terror Museum:
This museum tells the story of the horrific crimes undertaken by the Gastapo and the consequences of their actions through photographs and witness accounts.
This is a very good historical museum, which describes in detail how Hitler got into power and how Hitler and the Nazis operated during the late 30s and 40s. The museum itself is situated in the area, which was the actual Nazi headquarters (which is pretty incredible in itself – no wonder it is called the topography of terror!).
We spent about two hours in this museum and felt quite exhausted by the end. This isn’t a museum, which anyone will enjoy but a museum, which is historically important. It just shouldn’t be missed. One leaves the museum with a lot to think about. The organizers have done an impeccable job – so if you have the time, make sure you head down for a good read. Give yourself 2 hours to effectively get through all the literature – and make sure you start on the left. You will learn so much about a terrible time in the history of “Western Civilization.” The stark design of the exhibition brings the harsh reality of what occurred in Germany under Nazi regimes.
Berlin Victory Column:
Liked everything about Berlin, the Victory Column was so fascinating. Without knowing much about it, we learned a bit of the history behind the column on the placards placed around the column. The Victory column has two levels. The second level will require you to walk up a narrow spiral staircase, but is worth the climb. You get some great view from the top of the column. I can’t remember how much we paid, but I believe it wasn’t that expensive, just few Euros per person.
Once you are in you will go through a short exhibit, which is fun. Then you start your ascend to the first level. Once you’re here you are on a sheltered level that will allow you to look around before heading up to the top. The top is not very wide and can be windy. The views are worth the climb.
The victory column was built in 1873 to celebrate Prussia’s victory in the Franco-German War. The Victory Column first stood on Königsplatz square (today Platz der Republik, in front of the Reichstag Parliament building). In 1938–39, under Hitler’s plans to transform Berlin into his world capital Germania, the column was moved just over 1.5 km to the west to its present location. At the same time, a fourth section was added, raising the column to a height of 67 metres. The Victory Column survived the Second World War largely unscathed. In the mid-1980s, it was then restored and is now listed as a heritage site.
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s most popular inner-city park, located completely in the district of the same name. The park is 210 hectares in size and is among the largest urban gardens of Germany. This park is very big and it is divided into 4 parts (you use underground passages to go from one place to another).
The park is very nice and great for a relaxing, walk or a run, if you are into exercising. Perfect paved trails, nice scenery and attractions along the way. A beautiful park, it’s just lovely and a nice reprieve from crazy city life. It’s worth strolling through. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.