Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie. Images of the Berlin Wall
Between 1945 and 1961, an estimated 2.5 million people fled East Germany in search of the political and economic freedom offered by West Germany. To thwart this tide of defections, on the morning of 13 August 1961, hundreds of East German troops began erecting the Berlin Wall-a barrier that would take nearly twenty years to complete and would eventually span 166 kilometres. Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie presents a remarkable collection of images to document the Wall's presence in its 28-year history. The postcards in this fascinating volume trace the development of the Wall-from its beginnings as a simple stretch of barbed wire to the daunting final structure made of interconnecting concrete sections and containing over 300 watchtowers. The images capture scenes of tension and urgency, such as those at Checkpoint Charlie, where we see Allied and Soviet soldiers in a tense standoff. Others document the Wall's ties with international leaders, including John F. Kennedy in 1963 when he declared his solidarity with all Berliners and Ronald Regan when he implored Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Wall. We see Berliners as they respond to the Wall's presence, initially with bewilderment and curiosity in the early days, to acceptance of the reality of the Wall, and finally, to euphoria as the Wall was toppled and thousands of joyful East Germans realized the fulfilment of their personal dreams at the conclusion of the Cold War. An intimate look at one of the most visible manifestations of the postwar divide, Portraits from Checkpoint Charlie presents a key location in twentieth-century history through the eyes of those on the scene.