German Tempers Heat Up Over Cold War Tourist Traps

'Snackpoint Charlie,' actors in military uniforms labeled disrespectful to dead
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2009 9:51 AM CDT
German Tempers Heat Up Over Cold War Tourist Traps
Actors in French and American uniforms stand at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin. Tourists are charged 1 Euro for photos.   (©Francesco ML)

The Disneyfication of Cold War landmarks in Berlin has irked people with bad memories of East Germany, the Independent reports. Critics, including former Allied officers and those who suffered under oppressive rule, argue that the atmosphere around places like Checkpoint Charlie—where actors in military uniforms hustle tourists for coins and "Snackpoint Charlie" sells burgers—disrespects the memory of those who died there fleeing Communist rule.

Checkpoint Charlie's former US commander recently complained to Berlin's city government that the fake soldiers are "an unacceptable spectacle, which is inappropriate for the location and its historical importance." The flap comes amid a wider controversy in Germany ahead of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, with some politicians attempting to capitalize on nostalgia for East Germany and other arguing fiercely against revisionism. (More checkpoints stories.)

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