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Photographer's Note

Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Others on the Autobahn to the West were Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstedt and Checkpoint Bravo at Dreilinden, southeast of Wannsee, named from the NATO phonetic alphabet. Many other checkpoints existed, some for German citizens, others for foreigners and members of Allied forces. Checkpoint Charlie is at the junction of Friedrichstra絽 with Zimmerstra絽 and - amazingly - Mauerstra絽 ('Wall Street') in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood, in the heart of Berlin, which was divided by the Berlin Wall. The Soviets simply called it the Friedrichstra絽 Crossing Point.

Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of east and west, and for the East Germans a gateway to freedom. It frequently featured in spy movies and books, such as those by John le Carr.

The checkpoint was curiously asymmetrical. During its 27-year active life, the infrastructure on the Eastern side was expanded to include not only the wall, watchtower and zig-zag barriers, but a multi-lane shed where cars and their occupants were checked. However the American authorities, perhaps not wanting to concede that the division of Germany might be anything other than a temporary aberration, never erected any permanent buildings, and made do with the iconic wooden shed.

Today, the museum next to the checkpoint struggles to keep alive the memory of what is now something between an embarrassment and a tourist attraction.

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Additional Photos by Matteo Porta (mporta) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 198 W: 78 N: 620] (3812)
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