It’s all hands to deck at Miniloft behind the scenes, as we are working on a new development over in Kreuzberg. Our new place is near Checkpoint Charlie, a fascinating spot that once you look past the tourist trappings, is actually one of the most significant sites in Berlin from the 20th Century. Because it was here that the Cold War nearly reached breaking point.

It’s 22nd October 1961 in Berlin and a few months after the wall has been thrown up overnight. Tensions between the Allied Sectors of Berlin and East German forces over the border are distinctly frosty. An American Diplomat, Alan Lightner, travels from the West to the East, to go the opera. Allied personnel were meant to be able to travel freely throughout the city, but Lightner is stopped.

Five days later, 33 Soviet Tanks arrive at the Brandenburg Gate, with ten of them continuing on to what was known as Checkpoint Charlie. American tanks stared at them from the other side, with both tanks locked in a stalemate – each having orders to fire if fired upon. It was a tense moment that lasted an agonising 16 hours, where one false move could have triggered a nuclear war. Thankfully, the tanks withdrew and the city went back to the more regular routines. But next time you head to Checkpoint Charlie, it’s well worth taking a moment to think about how many lives depending on those tanks stepping back from the line.

If you want to explore the area, be sure to try one of our bike tours and make a stop in the museum for more stories from the checkpoint. Or take a look at this short video on the excellent Berlin Wall site , which describes the tensions at Checkpoint Charlie and offers plenty of other stories from the Berlin Wall.

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