The Black Box is a flat, black, box-shaped building located a few metres from Checkpoint Charlie. The structure is dedicated to the Cold War and features authentic exhibits. Whether it is rearmament, hostile confrontations, the world on the brink of nuclear war, or spectacular espionage, the events of this era become tangible in the heart of the city - and are reflected in this unusual building.
The black box of the Cold War
An armed confrontation between the Americans and the Russians at Checkpoint Charlie occurs in 1961, escalating the tensions between East and West. Since 2006, an open-air museum dedicated to this subject has been located on that very spot. In 2012, the Black Box opens on adjacent grounds, serving as a provisional exhibit until a Museum of the Cold War is built on this historic location. As you approach the building, you will note the dark walls contrasting with light grey, multilingual phrases like, "Cold War", "Espionage", "Peace" and "Democracy". This immediately gives you a hint of what to expect inside; unsettling exhibitions documenting of the history of this area between 1945 and 1990. But the horror quickly turns into curiosity: What does the black box contain? The first hint is in the name itself: as a black box of an aeroplane, the exhibition records the development of the Cold War. Dive into the past through historical film excerpts. Interviews with witnesses of that time give a personal touch. From viewing the photos and documents on display you can sense the frightening reality of such a globally threatening political situation. Original objects convey the story of life on the threshold of war. A radiation dosimeter for the measurement of radioactivity and a Soviet photo gun, used for military reconnaissance, are just some of the 500 relics exhibited.
The highlights of the Black Box
- 16 media stations with film excerpts and interviews
- Large-format photos of Cold War events
- Model of a Soviet T-62 tank
- Original objects like a radiation dosimeter
- Soviet "Zenit" photo gun
The history of Checkpoint Charlie
The Berlin Mauermuseum is located directly next to the Black Box. Founded by a private initiative, it informs the public about escape attempts and the victims of the Wall. Here you can see the escape methods used, such as mini-submarines and hot-air balloons. The Asisi Panorama takes you on a journey back to an autumn day in the 1980s. Designed by Yadegar Asisi, the 360° panoramic image shows a closed off East Berlin from the perspective of West Berliners; the death strips and border guards alongside the punks and occupied houses. On Zimmerstraße you can visit the Trabi Museum to get a taste of everyday life in the GDR, including historic Trabi model cars, rare rally cars and military Trabis. End your historical tour through the Cold War at Leipziger Platz with the German Espionage Museum where you can experience former spy technology - including a Trabi with built-in infrared camera.
Tips for your visit
The U6 underground line takes you to Kochstraße. Exiting the station, you will see the Black Box and the Asisi Panorama. The Black Box is located behind the photo and gallery walls on the corner of Friedrichstraße/Zimmerstraße.