Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie is (in German
) also known as the Mauer-Museum: wall museum. It is situated right next to Checkpoint Charlie
on Friedrichstrasse, Berlin.
The first exhibition of this museum was not on Friedrichstrasse, however, but in a house on the western side of Bernauer Strasse. This street was divided between East and West Berlin over its entire length, with the houses on the East side emptied and their windows bricked up.
The first exhibition opened on 19 October 1962. Tourists were told to be grateful towards the soldiers on the other side for not shooting. "Look through the uniform" was the motto.
In the fist half year so many visitors came that a new location was necessary and on 14 June 1963 the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie was opened. Here an eye could be kept on the soldiers guarding the Wall, escapees from the East were welcome and received support and many escape plans were hatched. The Haus was dedicated to the fight against the injustice in the DDR.
1973: "Maler interpretieren DIE MAUER" (Painters interpret THE WALL)
1976: "Berlin - Von der Frontstadt zur Brücke Europas" (Berlin - From Frontier City to Bridge of Europe)
1984: "Von Gandhi bis Walesa - Gewaltfreier Kampf für Menschenrechte" (From Gandhi to Walesa - Nonviolent Fight for Human Rights).
Nowadays the museum has four focus points: history and stories of The Wall, original objects from successful escape attempts, painters' interpretations of "Die Mauer" and the worldwide non-violent fight for human rights.
Between 1961 and 1989 some 5000 people succeeded in somehow crossing the Berlin Wall. In the museum there are many pictures of escape tunnels, diary fragments from people who helped others escape, stories of successful and unsuccessful escape attempts. The museum is filled with all kinds of escape vehicles: cars that have been rebuilt to house one or two refugees, a mine cart that was used to cross an escape tunnel, a mini submarine, some self-made helicopter-like vehicles and the shopping bag on wheels that one mother used to get her son to West Berlin. There are also some illegal magazines that were spread in the DDR.
There is also a video of the breaking down of the Wall in 1989. Since the reunification the fight against injustice in the DDR is no longer necessary. The museum can call itself the first museum for non-violence. They even have a diary and a pair of sandals that once belonged to Mahatma Gandhi.