Berlin (dpa) – The fake US and Soviet soldiers who still “guard” Berlin’s famous relic of the Cold War era, Checkpoint Charlie, are to be stood down amid complaints from residents and tourists, the district’s local authority told dpa on Monday.
The operator behind the counterfeit commandos – played by actors who, clad in US and Soviet military garb, charge tourists to have their photo taken with them – has been told to withdraw its troops.
“The operator has been informed that the tolerance has been lifted with immediate effect and that it would risk prosecution for a violation [were it to continue operations],” the district authority of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg said.
The authority added that pedestrians are being pressured, or even “downright forced,” to pose for photos with the bluffing belligerents in front of the reconstructed guardhouse. The original was removed in June 1990, eight months after the Berlin Wall fell.
The decision takes effect in August. Should the actors continue to appear at the checkpoint after that, the ban could be enforced by police.
A photo with the soldiers costs 4 euros (4.50 dollars), with daily takings of 1,500-5,000 euros, according to German newspaper Bild.
Situated in the heart of Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie was the border crossing for diplomats and foreigners at the time when the city was divided and the scene of a tense face-off between Soviet and US tanks shortly after the Wall’s construction in 1961.
The site’s modern mixture of historical information, tourist tat and retail has often been subject to criticism.