While there are hundreds of military museums around the world, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, or the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, is one of few memorials that expressly document the tyrannical force of dictatorship — in this instance, the Communist cruelty that operated with an iron fist thanks to a methodically conceived Iron Curtain. The museum ranks with far wealthier museums that document the horrors of fascist tyranny, such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
The story of the Berlin Wall begins on Saturday, Aug. 12, 1961, a seemingly lackluster summer day in Berlin. Residents from the eastern and western parts of town traveled to their favorite summer spots, to luxuriate in the last summer rays of the sun. Little did they know that something strange was unfolding, and by the end of the night, casually traversing to the opposite end of the city would become impossible. It would be a day Berliners would never be able to forget, and a day Rainer Hildebrandt’s Checkpoint Charlie Museum will try to make sure the world too never forgets.
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