How did "Checkpoint Charlie" become known as the border crossing between East and West Berlin? Out of the countless border checkpoints, what set Checkpoint Charlie apart from the rest for defectors?

  • The Stand-off between US and Soviet tanks was probably quite famous. But it wouldn't be significant for defectors.
    – Lev
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 15:42
  • I would agree with Lev. When Berlin was governed by the four occupying powers, in theory members of the armed services of all the four powers could go to any other sector when in uniform through any of the . In practise, they used Charlie because it was the only one open 24/7.The last time I crossed from East Germany into Berlin I used the French crossing at Berlin-Heiligensee and as it was Saturday it was officially closed. Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


There weren't "countless" border crossings between East and West. The checkpoints Alpha, Bravo and Charlie were the designated checkpoints for use by allied forces personnel (there were others which only West Berlin citizens could use).

Alpha and Bravo are less famous because Alpha was the main crossing for the "inner German border" dividing East and West Germany proper, while Bravo was in the south-west of Berlin. Alpha and Bravo were used for transiting between West Germany and West Berlin (crossing East German territory but nothing to do with East Berlin). So these crossing points were rather mundane compared to Charlie which was in the heart of the city and was used to transit between East and West Berlin.


The last known escape at a crossing point was actually at this checkpoint on the 18th August 1989. 2 persons hid inside the trunk of an Allied vehicle.

There was also specific crossing points where only West Germans could cross over.

Bahnhof Friedrichstraße could be used by all, other than Allied personel.

Allied personel were only allowed to use Checkpoint Charlie.

  • US soldiers had to register with the US MP on leaving and on return.
  • UK soldiers were checked by British MP to make sure everything bought with East Marks had been properly exchanged.
  • The amount of times I saw a French MP there could be counted on one hand with many fingers left over.

When not staying overnight, you were required to use the same crossing when leaving.

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