The famous crossing point between West Berlin and the Communist-ruled eastern half of the city -- "Checkpoint Charlie" -- has had a facelift.
The famous crossing point between West Berlin and the Communist-ruled eastern half of the city -- "Checkpoint Charlie" -- has had a facelift. An increasingly heavy flow of traffic into the eastern half has prompted the East German authorities to streamline the control point.
SYNOPSIS: In 1961 Soviet and United States tanks stood muzzle to muzzle her at Checkpoint c., better known as Checkpoint Charlie, one of five crossing points in the 15-foot (five metres) wall that divides Berlin. The tense days of the Could War have passed, and the flow between the two halves that was once a trickle, has reached food proportions. The East Germans have laid bout a streamlined new control system to speed the increasingly heavy flow of mainly eastbound visitors.
Despite the imposing wall, mines, tank traps and barbed wire, the number of visitors to the east has soared in recent years. As an indication of how busy the East German authorities are, they admit to having some 100 officials working on a four-shift rota, though they don't release any statistics.
On the western side of the checkpoint--Andrews barracks is American -- the allied military authorities still formally ruling West Berlin 32 years after the end of World War Two, keep no records of the stream of visitors from their sectors. All American military drivers learn to negotiate a but through barriers similar to ones on the eastern approaches to the checkpoint, the harriers are an added deterrent to would-be escapers from the East. The allies hope they're never going to have to drive through at speeds like this, but the drivers learn how to do it as a precaution anyway.
The workload of the East German in the main tower appeared to become too much recently with the introduction of new regulations imposing a midnight curfew on visitors to the east. In March builders re-equipped the control building, laid out a new a car park and more customs lanes. The end result? -- a major improvement said one yon westerner, who'd been braving the midnight crush to visit his girlfriend on the other side.