“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.

At the Former East-West Border Part 1

Yesterday my wife showed some travel fatigue and was saying it was time we would heading home to Australia again. I thought it was time for an outing. The city of Berlin is surrounded by beautiful forests, rivers and lakes like no other city.

The River Havel

Just take the electric train ( S-Bahn ) and or a bus and head out in any direction. We were heading West to Glienicker Brücke.

Glienicker Brücke forms the border between Berlin and the city of Potsdam and was formerly the border between the two power blocks during the Cold War. Here, as you may have seen in movies or documentaries prisoners or spies were exchanged between the super powers.

Glienicker Brücke as seen from former West-Berlin

The East-Germans called the bridge the “Bridge of Unity”. It was anything but.

This marks the old border between the power blocks

We strolled across the bridge, made famous in the German film “Under the Bridges”. It was the last film made during the war in 1945. Now tourists came on foot, as we did, or by sightseeing buses.

On the other side Potsdam awaits us. It is the capital of the State of Brandenburg. Potsdam is worth a visit on its own. And we will probably do it later on.

My wife Uta felt she needed a cup of coffee. I encouraged her to walk a little bit more and we would find something. And we did. An old petrol station converted into a French Café, very suitably named “GARAGE du PONT”.

What a cool French place, with some old timer cars in front of it. We definitely saved ourselves a trip to France.

French cars out of a French Gangster movie from the fifties

Inside awaited us an impressive decor and some beautiful cakes.

Of course, we couldn’t resist the the apple and the cheese cake. We felt like “dear God in France”, as the German saying goes. We ordered a grappa for me and an amaretto for Uta too. And this is how it all looked.


After a while, refreshed and in a jovial mood, we headed back to Berlin again. The paradox of the situation was, that geographically we went East, but politically it would have been West 23 years ago. Autumn has arrived and the leaves on the trees are starting to change their colours.

Back on the other side on can see Potsdam in the distance across Stölpchensee.