“Bridge of Spies” – Glienicke Bridge


Today, 26 years ago ( on the morning of the 10 November, Australian time) the Berlin Wall was opened. Next day, Berlin Time, the old border between West-Berlin and the GDR (East-Germany) was opened at the border to between Berlin and Potsdam.

Sign on Glienike Bridge, today

Sign on Glienike Bridge, today

The sign reads, “Here was Germany and Europe until the 10th of November 1989 at 1800 hour divided”.

So it was astonishingly appropriate that we, my wife Uta and I, saw a film today that had that bridge as a dramatic backdrop. It was another story, from the time of the Cold War, that was told in the film “Bridge of Spies“.  Here is a trailer of the film.

As a former resident of Berlin, I’m not unfamiliar with the bridge. I visited her many times and the bridge was once before the background for a movie. “Under the Bridges” was the last German film made before the end of the war but only shown after the end of the war.

This particular construction of the Glienicke Bridge was only completed in 1907.

In 1986, three years before it re-opening we were visiting her.

View across the River Havel towards Potsdam

View across the River Havel towards Potsdam (1986)

The bridger with boadersign and guard's hut 1986

The bridge with border sign and guard’s hut (1986)

This really was the border of the Western world. Whereever you were in West-Berlin, you always faced the East.

This really was the border of the Western world. Wherever you were in West-Berlin, you always faced the East. (1986)

Today, you should take a walk across the bridge and let the full impact grab you.  In the middle is a line marking the former border.

This masrks the old East / West borderline.

This marks the old East / West borderline.

This the approach to bridge from the Potsdam end of the border. Today the bridge is the border beweteen the City of Berlin and the Federal State of Brandenburg.

This is the approach to the bridge from the Potsdam end of the border. Today the bridge is the border between the City of Berlin and the Federal State of Brandenburg.

And if you have made it to this spot, you are right in front of the beautiful cafe “Garage Du Pont”.

You can sit and ponder the history of the bridge while you indulge yourself.

 Garage Du Pont

Garage Du Pont

Here you can enjoy a coffee, an apple tart or a brandy  or all three of them.

Bon appetite!

Bon appetite!

The film is not only based on a true event, but it is also a stark portrayal of the American justice system. Justice is not always been done but depends often on people  like James B. Donovan  100 out of 100 for Tom Hanks too. The scenes at the border, in August 1961 when the wall went up, were just frightening to watch.

A few times I had to fight back tears as I saw how Berlin suffered.

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13 thoughts on ““Bridge of Spies” – Glienicke Bridge

  1. You say: “The scenes at the border, in August 1961 when the wall went up, were just frightening to watch.”
    And you are right, the wall caused great suffering. Events like this do stir the emotions.

    • Thank you, Gerard, for commenting. The film is not a thriller or action movie.
      It is more an ideas film of how people behave when the system is being challenged. History is throwing up challenges all the time and puts our political and judicial system under pressure.

      The refugee crises in Europe and the arrival of the boat people here in Australia are such crises. It is how we react which shows how civilised we are.

      In that film, there aren’t any dirty spies but human beings caught up in the struggle of their societies with other powers. You will love James B. Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, a lawyer who believes that justice, and the rule of law, should prevail at all times, even in the face of an exceptional challenge.

      It would be good if our political rulers could understand this instead of misusing tragedies to expand their power.

      • It sound a great theme and we will see it soon. The film is widely acclaimed as being very good. I think the issue about the asylum seekers on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island will get resolved . I mean, those on detention on Manus and Nauru can’t stay forever in limbo. On Christmas Island they now seem to have both refugees and convicted criminals. I don’t understand and I thought that when you served your sentence one would be free.

      • The convicted criminals on Christmas Island are people who have another citizenship and can be deported if they have had a custodial sentence of more than one year. They are being detained awaiting the outcome of their appeal to the deportation order. According to the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, they are the worst. Most of them are from NZ and they don’t want them back. On a recent visit to NZ, ​our PM could only promise that they would speed up the appeal process.

      • If they are awaiting deportation back to NZ why are they flown to Christmas Island which is so much further away from NZ than mainland Australia? Why are they not detained in Australia? I know that Christmas Island is part of Australia but it is thousands of miles from NZ.

  2. I have not seen this bridge before. It was an interesting post. Would I be able to use the photo as a possible Monday Mystery Photo on my blog? I will of course, credit you as the source of the photo and link back to your blog.

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