A powerful, fascinating, and ground-breaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the legendary and most important military gate on the border of East and West Berlin where the United States and her allies confronted the USSR during the Cold War.
As tensions between east and west rose during the Cold War, East Germany committed $millions to the creation of the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s, an eleven-foot-high barrier that would evolve through the years to consist of seventy-nine miles of fencing, 300 watchtowers, 250 guard dog runs, twenty bunkers, and was operated around the clock by guards who shot to kill. Over the next twenty-eight years, at least ten thousand people attempted to smash through it, swim across it, tunnel under it, or fly over it, desperate to escape the repressive totalitarian East German regime for the freedom of the West.
In November 1989, the East German leadership buckled in the face of a civil revolt that culminated in half a million East Berliners demanding an end to the ban on free movement. The world's media flocked to capture the moment which, perhaps more than any other, signalled the end of the Cold War. The wall was opened, and then torn down, stone by stone. Checkpoint Charlie, the epicentre of global conflict for nearly three decades, was the location of the greatest jubilation as crowds flowed across the border.
As the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Wall approaches in 2019, Iain MacGregor captures the mistrust, oppression, paranoia, and fear that gripped Berlin throughout this period. Checkpoint Charlie is about the nerve-wracking confrontation between the West and USSR, highlighting such important global figures as JFK, Nikita Khrushchev, Reagan, Gorbachev and other leaders of the period. He also includes never-before-heard interviews with the men who built and dismantled the Wall; lovers who crossed it; relatives and friends who lost family trying to escape over it; German, British, French, and Russian soldiers who guarded its checkpoints; CIA, MI6 and Stasi operatives who oversaw secret operations across its borders; politicians whose ambitions shaped it; journalists who recorded its story; and many more whose living memories contributed to the full story of Checkpoint Charlie. A brilliant work of historical journalism, Checkpoint Charlie is an invaluable record of this period.