Berlin, Capital of Spies

Berlin, Capital of Spies

Traces of the Cold War

Versteckte Kamera in Schuhabsatz – © visitBerlin
– © Scholvien

During the Cold War, Berlin was the capital of espionage, which is no surprise, given that the division of the city reflected the greater division of Europe by the Iron Curtain in miniature. American and Soviet tanks faced off against each other more than once on the streets of the city. Spies were also exchanged on Glienicker Brücke, representatives of the intelligence services both East and West were active across the city trying to obtain information by all means.

Spy Museum Berlin

The newly opened Spy Museum on Leipziger Platz invites visitors to travel through time through a history of espionage and secret services. Fascinating exhibits such as cameras hidden in shoes and the Enigma decryption machine tell the story of spying technology and espionage from the early days through the two world wars and the Cold War. And visitors can even test their own skill by going on a mission impossible through the laser beam challenge.
Tip: there’s a post in the visitBerlin blog about a visit to the Spy Museum Berlin.

Glienicker Brücke

The Glienicker Brücke crosses the Havel between Potsdam and Berlin and was once also the site of spy exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union and their allies. Steven Spielberg filmed scenes for his new movie Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks, based on the real exchange of US pilot Francis Gary Powers.

Deutsch-Russisches Museum

The German-Russian Museum is in the Karlshorst neighbourhood. It was built as a training academy for German army engineers in the lead-up to World War II, became Soviet military headquarters after the war, and then became the KGB’s offices in Berlin during the Cold War Yaers. In 1995, the site reopened as a museum covering German-Russian relations in the 20th century, including exhibits on the wiretaps conducted for the KGB by the East German army.

Alliierten Museum

This museum tells the history of the Western Allies (Great Britain, France, and the United States) in Berlin. Among the most impressive exhibits is the restored segment of a spy tunnel built by American and British intelligence in the early 1950s to tap Soviet communications lines in Berlin.

Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie

The Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie is dedicated entirely to the history of the Cold War. Large-format photos, sixteen media stations and other documents and exhibits will not only present the impact of the Wall on German history, but also help visitors understand the international dimensions of German and European division.

Berliner Unterwelten

This museum’s displays and the various tours of the city it offers introduce the underside of Berlin, including a Cold War-era nuclear fallout shelter.

Teufelsberg American Spy Station

The Teufelsbergin Grunewald is an almost idyllic spot with rich flora and fauna, but a reminder of a not-so-distant past is the former station used by the Americans to listen in on Soviet and East German communications.

Cold War Films and Novels:

  • Opens 16 October in the UK & US; 26 November in Germany: “Bridge Of Spies”, Steven Spielberg’s latest film starring Tom Hanks.
  • Another film from 2015: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • A Berlin love story in the Cold War era: The Innocent by Ian McEwan
  • Michael Caine as a spy in Berlin: Funeral in Berlin
  • The Hitchcock classic: Torn Curtain
  • James Bond at Checkpoint Charlie: Octopussy