Hidden amongst the shadows of Berlin, the Cold War was fought with spies, double agents, the CIA and the KGB engaged in a dangerous game of brinkmanship and espionage. With each side looking to outmanoeuvre each other, Berlin became the frontier of the Cold War, where two imposing ideologies collided, creating a city divided.
Intriguing and fascinating, the Cold War embodied the conflict and struggle between East and West, and its legacy can be traced back to many of the different landmarks and monuments that still stand in Berlin today. From imposing Communist architecture to secret headquarters and perilous border crossings, the different landmarks of Berlin narrate the captivating story of the Cold War. Here are our top five visits that have stood the test of time to help students understand the origins of the Cold War, its development and the conflict it caused.
To this day, the Berlin Wall remains as one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War. On a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial, students can experience the grim reality of a city and its population divided in two by an imposing concrete wall. The Memorial site features a commemorative stretch of the historic divide with a preserved section of the death strip complete with imposing lookout guard tower. Complete with original photos, underground tunnels and the stories of escape attempts, the Memorial brings to life the historic divide.
Located in the the former Stasi Headquarters of Berlin, the museum uncovers and reveals the secret methods and techniques used by the Stasi (East German State Security), that kept the entire East German population under surveillance for 40 years. With the centerpiece of the museum being the office of infamous East German Minister for State Security, Erich Mielke, the museum is an extraordinary library of cards, images and sound files that were collected during secret surveillance operations.
The famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War and the scene where US and Soviet Tanks faced off during a 16 hour period of unparalleled tension and anxiety. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, this crossing point signified the border between East and West, Capitalism and Communism, freedom and confinement. With huge historical and emotional importance, Checkpoint Charlie and the unbelievable escape attempts it recounts is a must see for any history student when visiting Berlin.
The scene of many painful farewells, Tranenpalast is the Berlin colloquialism for the former border crossing at Berlin Friedrichstrabe station. Referred to as The Palace of Tears, the border crossing is now the site of a free permanent exhibition called “Border Experience” which tells the story of everyday life in a divided Germany. Original material, films and interviews with contemporary witnesses document the effects of the border crossing on German people and how it impacted on their life.
Get an extraordinary insight into what life was like behind the wall by taking an insiders Cold War Walking Tour to uncover the secrets of GDR Berlin and Soviet spies. Packed full of intrigue and conspiracy, students will discover how the Cold War came about and how many people tried to flee the conflict by attempting to escape on the ghost-like trail of the death strip. Hear about how M16 and the CIA attempted to uncover the reality of life behind the wall and the methods used by the Stasi to control the East German population.
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