Berlin, during the 1920’s and 1930’s had a reputation for decadence. This reputation was based on many of the activities that took place on the Friedichstraza. The Kit Kat club in Cabaret was located in Friedichstrasa. Decadence and decay was all the rage and cocaine was legal in Germany and almost compulsory in the clubs of Friedichstraza. People came from all over Europe to indulge in the heady lifestyle of this part of Berlin during the inter war years. Even Marlena Dietrich started her career in the clubs and dives of Berlin’s Friedichstraza.
You can see from the picture on the right that the clubs and Cabaret’s and the use of cocaine (or “charlie” as it has now become known) has now been replaced by fashion shops, offices and tourists.
In the middle of Friedichstraza is (or was) the second Charlie. It was known for 44 years as “Checkpoint Charlie” . I remember watching the news with my parents in 1961 and being absolutely terrified by the sight of the standoff that took place at Checkpoint Charlie between Russian and American tanks. Both sides had the tanks engines running and live shells loaded in the barrels of the tanks. East and West faced each other, neither willing to back down. It seemed like another war would break out any minute. I found it to be a terrifying event. Even so it was eclipsed a few years later by the Cuban Missile chrisis. Checkpoint Charlie has now been replaced by a tourist fabrication.
The writing on the hut calls it by the Western name “Checkpoint Charlie” despite being written in Russian Cyrillic. The final bit of absurd surrealism is the fact that the East German guard is holding an American flag. Presumable this is because the Americans always want to have their picture taken with their flag. The price for having your picture taken in this absurd environment is 2 Euro’s and the everlasting shame of having been seen to be a gullible prat.