10969 Berlin „
Also known as the 'Mauermuseum', the 'Museum am Haus Checkpoint Charlie' is one of Berlin's most popular tourist attractions. It's so popular, in fact, that there was a long queue stretching outside the doors and down the street when we visited on a freezing Saturday in December.
The museum looks at the history of the Berlin Wall, why it was built, how it affected the lives of the people of Berlin and how desperate people tried to get over the wall to escape from 'the east, and how the wall came to be torn down. It's housed in a building that overlooks Checkpoint Charlie, one of the fortified gates between the two sides of the city, and which was itself a place where escape plans were hatched and sometimes executed.
The museum is located on Friedrichstrasse within easy walking distance of Unter den Linden and close to several tram and U-bahn stations. It's literally right beside where the wall cut through the city, at the site of the famous Checkpoint Charlie. There's a guards' kiosk at the road junction and nowadays paid actors in vintage uniforms pose for photographs in front of the barricades. 'Ostalgia' is big business and the queues reflect this.
There's a fenced off plot on the corner and the walls have been used for an exhibtion about the Berlin Wall. It's actually really comprehensive with interesting texts and lots of excellent photographs but it's not part of the museum and if you take the time to view all of the panels, as we did, you'll find that much of this information (and also the photographs) is repeated in the museum. You might even be tempted to skip the museum altogether, so good is the al fresco display, but the museum does contain a lot of excellent exhibits that bring the story of Berlin alive.
The museum was originally housed in a small apartment on Bernauer Strasse but it attracted so many visitors that it moved to the current premises in June 1963. It directly overlooked Checkpoint Charlie and soon became a haven for escape assisters and offered practical support to those who had managed to escape.
VISITING THE MUSEUM
I would guess that whatever time of day, week and year you visit Berlin this place is going to be busy so be prepared to queue. Although it looked like we might have to wait longer, we were inside and on our way around the museum in about fifteen minutes. There is a cloak room on the ground floor and I did think we'd be asked to leave bags and coats but this is not compulsory.
This building is partly accessible for wheelchair users but I wouldn't much fancy being at sitting height as not only are there so many people, many of the information boards and illustrations are placed high up. In one part there was a display that went up the stairs and even over the stairs: this was really awkward to look at and made progress up the stairs slow and possibly dangerous.
Audio guides are available but all exhibits are captioned in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian and possibly Japanese and Russian, though don't quote me on that. While it's good that foreigners are catered for so well, it also causes a problem because it makes every text board long and cluttered. In order to accommodate so many languages the text is often small and difficult to read.
If you know almost nothing about the Berlin Wall this is a very good place to come to find out about it. If, on the other hand, it's a subject already know but would like to learn more about, then the abundance of detail such as first person accounts of people who managed to escape over the wall should prove interesting. Both positions, however, have their drawbacks because there is so much information here. Those who know very little about the subject might feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of material, while those who already know a bit might feel that it's diffcult to work through see past all the stuff they already know to find the little treasures that enhance the story.
The story begins around around at the end of World War 2, setting the scene by explaining how the country and its capital came to be divided among the occupying powers. Although emigration from the eastern bloc countries in general had been tightly controlled, Berlin was an irritating loophole for the authorities. Young people, and especially those in professions such as engineering, teaching and law, were leaving in droves and the East German government needed to take action to stem the tide.
One of the things the exhibition does really well is to explain how quick the appearance of the wall was. Quite literally, the people of Berlin woke to find this physical barrier dividing their city. On 13th August 1961 the Russians erected a barbed wire fence along the border; two days later work on the wall proper commenced. Without warning familes were separated and people cut off off from their places of work. In some tragic cases people who had been visiting family or friends in the east or west of the city found themselves unable to return home. There are some fascinating transcripts of people who were affected in this way. Official figures report that 28 people escaped on the first day, followed by 41 on the second. Bernauer Strasse had been divided along its length and desperate inhabitants trapped on 'the wrong side' of the wall even flung themselves from the windows of their apartments to try to get into the West. Very quickly the authorities had the windows of those buildings bricked up but that just drove people to leap from the roof instead; a significant number died in this way. In 1962 a young man called Peter Fechter, just 18 years old, was shot by a border guard as he was trying to flee the East; it is said that his cries for help could be heard on both sides of the wall as he was left there to bleed to death.
Between 1961 when the wall was built, and 1989 when the people of Berlin took back their city there were many successful and many unsuccessful attempts to escape over (and often under) the wall. The majority of people were fleeing East Berlin, a small number tried to get into the East. Some of the attempts at escape were ill conceived and doomed to fail, others were highly ingenious and some were so good that those people who made a career from helping people escape were able to employ them time after time. The exhibition includes some original items that were used in escapes - cars with hidden compartments in which someone might squeeze in to be driven over the border, human catapults, forged passports and even a homemade flying machine. The exhibition highlights the case of the Wetzels and Strlzycks, two families that managed to float over the wall in a homemade hot air balloon. They quietly went about the task of acquiring enough lightweight material which they purchased in small amounts in order not to provoke suspicion and used only the least amount of fuel that would get them away. After their successful flight the East German authorities put restrictions on the sale of lightweight fabrics.
Another really interesting display looks at attempts to escape by tunnel, in particular one in the basement of a house in Westerstrasse which was the most successful of all the attempts to tunnel under the border; an incredible 29 people were able to flee using this escape route. The display includes photographs of the family members that lived there and explains how the tunnel was built. It is just one of many examples that can be seen in this museum of the creativity and courage of ordinary people in pursuit of freedom.
The founder of the museum, Rainer Hildebrandt, wanted it to be more generally dedicated to 'International non-violent protest' and additional displays include individual exhibits such as a pair of sandals that belonged to Gandhi (who must have been well shod as I am sure I've seen numerous items of his footwear on my travels), the death mask of Russian dissident Andrei Sacharov and the 'Charta 77 typewriter' (Charter 77 was a Czech movement that was in existence between 1976 and 1992 and counted among its founding members Vaclav Havel. It's aim was to highlight the non observance of human rights and it worked hard to ensure it could not be attacked by the authorities by always remaining just inside the stringent laws on organised opposition to the goverment.) While these are certainly rather symbolic items you can comfortably skip this section of the museum if you are short on time.
I've given only an overview of the contents of the exhibition at Checkpoint Charlie; there are several floors and room after room of material and to view it all in any detail would take the best part of a day. Unfortunately the rather dated presenation of the exhibits makes it difficult to be selective in what to look at and with its text heavy content (combined with the number of people trying to look at the same stuff), visiting this museum is hard work. The same black and white boards and uniform text are used throughout and really need replacing and updating. There's a lot of repetition and the amount of exhibits could be pared back to improve the visitor experience. The museum curators could benefit from the old saying that 'less is more'.
I'd like to say yes but this museum covers a lot of the ground that other museums and outdoor exhibitions cover. At the full price of Euro12.50 it's certainly not expensive in terms of the most popular attractions in European capital cities but when you see how old and shabby the building and the displays materials are you have to wonder, with so many people coming through the doors every day, what exactly they're doing wth the money. The Berlin WelcomeCard will get you a reduction of 25% off the admission price but be sure to present your card straight away at the desk. They don't advertise the fact that they offer this reduction but it is listed in the booklet that comes with the card along with a tear out voucher to hand in to ensure you don't try to get the discount more than once.
While these premises are right beside Checkpoint Charlie and therefore at the heart of the subject, you could argue that the exhibition has outgrown its home. Access is difficult even for able bodied people, and there's just too much material for the space available. You could learn just as much from the exhibition of photographs on the hoardings on the street outside the museum or at several other points along the site of the wall. Don't be too disappointed if you don't see this museum. Yes, it does have some really good individual exhibits but it is simply too crowded to be really enjoyable.
We spent well over two hours at the museum and could only cover a fraction of what's on display. You may find it better to visit in the evening when tourists may be busy having dinner if you wish to find the museum less crowded and easier to navigate
In a city that is rich with history, both good and bad, Checkpoint Charlie and the museum that sits next to it is possibly one of the most interesting and one of the most prominent reminders of Germany's chequered past. The Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie is located next to the old allied crossing point for the Berlin wall and houses an exhibition of the history of the wall.
Briefly, the Berlin wall was built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1961 to officially prevent 'the fascist elements conspiring to prevent the will of the people by building a socialist state in Eastern Germany'. In reality is was designed to prevent the mass emigration of Germans trying to escape the communist Eastern bloc. The tearing down of the wall wasn't quite the immediate process that people might remember from news reports as it happened in stages (first more checkpoints were opened, then people could apply for closely monitored visas that allowed them to visit the West), but it is widely thought that the Berlin wall fell on 9th November 1989 when many Eastern Germans came with sledge hammers and the like to help bring it down.
Nothing remains in situ of the wall itself and the checkpoint hut is actually a replica of the one that stood there. Nevertheless, it makes for a good photo opportunity. In fact, funnily enough, the best place to take a photograph of the hut and the museum is from the balcony of the McDonalds restaurant across the road, as we discovered when we went to use the facilities there. Also, you'll probably want a photograph of the sign that declares that you are leaving the American sector in four different languages. Don't worry if you can't get a photograph though, because you'll find that the souvenir shops in the area have a million and one things with it on.
On to the museum itself then. Well it isn't cheap to get in - full price tickets are over twelve Euros per person and there are only small reductions in that prices for juniors and groups. It isn't that big either, so you may feel a little short changed. However there is information a plenty - some of it much more interesting than the other bits. By far the most popular and the most interesting (in my opinion) were the details of attempts to cross the Berlin wall illegally. There are good descriptions of the various methods used as well as replica cars and makeshift balloons that were adapted to suit the purpose of smuggling people through. The information is presented on the walls in the style of newspaper cuttings, which was quite novel I thought. Like I said, there is an awful lot of information there, almost as if the museum wants to honour every single person who died (or succeeded) in their attempt. It is a lot to take in, but I found that I just read articles here and there rather than looking at every single one.
Despite the fact that the museum was ridiculously busy (and it is like that all year round by all accounts), I felt like I disappeared into the stories of the people presented and that the crowds didn't bother me. Some of the stories of attempted escape are quite frankly horrifying and I spent large parts of the museum with the hairs on my neck standing on end. I think the most frightening thing for me was that it wasn't that long ago; it's not like usual history when you are thinking about things that happened so long ago that it's hard to imagine - this was in our life time. In fact many of the people in Berlin would remember what it was like to have their city torn in two by a wall that separated families and friends. It's pretty scary really and to that end, the museum is incredibly thought provoking.
There is a whole room upstairs dedicated to Ronald Reagan who was considered to be something of a hero after his speech from the Brandenburg Gate where he famously challenged Mikhail Gorbachev (then General Secretary of the communist party) to 'tear down this wall'. There is also a timeline that compares what was happening in Germany to what was happening in the wider world in popular culture, politics and so on, once again impressing upon you just how recently this all took place.
Something I thought was particularly good about the museum was the fact that it was split into two. The downstairs part told of the despair and the escape attempts. Here the walls are yellowing and everything is packed in closely together. Upstairs tells the story of how the wall fell and the general feeling of elation that the country was once again united. The rooms here are much lighter with huge windows. I don't know whether this was done purposely, but if not they should claim it was because it really does change your emotions throughout the visit according to what you perhaps should feel.
Overall I would recommend the Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie. It is a fascinating place if a little expensive and a little claustrophobic in places, but it tells an important story and is an educational and emotive exhibition.
Dr Haim Ginott once said that "children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression." If you think back to what events or experiences made the biggest impression on you, I bet most (if not all) of them happened when you were a child. One of my most memorable experiences happened on a family outing when I was aged 10, and can't have lasted for more than a few minutes. When Granada Television opened their studio tour in Manchester in 1988, the tour originally started off by taking you on a bus through a mock-up of Checkpoint Charlie, before heading down Baker Street and ending up in Coronation Street (the checkpoint set was later removed, shortly after the Wall came down the following year). While the rest of that day trip has long since faded from memory, I can remember quite clearly the reconstruction of the checkpoint and the soldiers coming on the bus to look for any "escapees" amongst the visitors. I can also remember my dad saying how well done it was; I later found out that he has passed through the real checkpoint in the late 1960s following a visit to East Germany. Why has this memory stayed with me so clearly when countless others had long since faded? Perhaps it was because at age 10 I just couldn't get my head around why such an experience was necessary simply to travel from one part of a city to another.
The real Checkpoint Charlie, I was later to discover, became a necessity after the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 abruptly segregated Soviet-controlled East Berlin from the sectors of the city overseen by the Allies to the West. While there were several border checkpoints - designated consecutively using the phonetic alphabet - Charlie became the best known because it served as the main crossing point for non-Germans and diplomats between the two Berlins between 1961 and 1990. This was also the place when the infamous stand-off between Soviet and American tanks took place shortly after the Wall first went up. As such, Checkpoint Charlie quickly became a potent symbol of the Cold War. The original checkpoint was dismantled a few months after the Wall fell, and the original guardhouses were relocated to the Allied Museum. As the area remained a strong draw for visitors to Berlin, however, a replica of the American guardhouse was reconstructed on the site in 2000.
The area today stands as a large monument to the Wall, with a free open-air exhibit extending down Friedrichstrasse and Zimmerstrasse, and markers noting the route the Wall took through the area. During peak visitor season, there are even actors in period uniforms posing next to the guardhouse for photos (although they were thankfully absent when I visited in March of this year). Adjacent to the guardhouse stands the Mauermuseum (Wall Museum) in the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a building that once was right on the edge of the American sector of West Berlin. The area attracts a high number of visitors to the city - it is more than a bit ironic that Berlin's biggest tourist attraction is one that doesn't actually exist anymore.
=== The Mauermuseum ===
The Mauermuseum is a privately funded institution set up by local historian Rainer Hildebrandt, and enthusiastically if not professionally curated. While I am aware that many visitors regard the museum as being a somewhat inadequate resource to represent such a historically significant site - not least my own Lonely Planet guidebook, which was quite scathing about it - I would beg to differ. While it is true that the museum was put together by amateurs (and looks it in many places), the key thing about this organisation for me was that the museum started in 1962, so it was gradually being put together as events around those who ran it took place. The rather odd-looking result was therefore a product of the organic growth of the project, and the original text panels have been kept in place as they are as much to do with the history of the museum as the stories it tells. As the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie was considered "an island of freedom right next to the border", it was for many years something of a base for escapees from the East, and for escape helpers, who could look out over the border from rooms in the building; these were the people who first ran the museum.
Given the origins and development of the museum, it is entirely understandable why it has an old-fashioned and slightly eclectic feel to its style of display. Visitors used to the slick modern displays and professional interpretation of major landmark museums (such as those in the excellent Museum of German History on Unter den Linden) will doubtless experience something of a culture shock when faced with a bombardment of information from over-large panels that date back to the 1960s. The first rooms you venture into also have little in the way of objects, but that is due to these galleries having been developed more as a protest against the Wall than as a coherent means of museum display. It was only later than objects were acquired and a proper museum set up.
With a little patience and a preparedness to sift through the large amounts of information on offer, however, this museum is a gem for anyone with an interest in history. While other museums in Berlin have a section of the Wall itself on display, here things get a lot more personal - and it you would have to be hard-hearted indeed not to be moved by some of the items and stories on display here. Take the pair of jeans on display in one of the upstairs rooms. At first glance they seem like any other pair of torn jeans, but when you look closer, you can see that the tears still have blood stains around them; they were worn by a man on an escape attempt from East Berlin, and he tore them on barbed wire in the Wall's "death strip". He was quite badly injured in the process, but he did make it successfully to the West.
The items that make for the most fascinating viewing in the museum are those associated with the more ingenious escape methods used by East Berliners defecting to the West. During the 28 years that the Wall was up, there were an estimated 5,000 escape attempts from East Berlin; in the early days of the Wall, this often involved jumping from buildings along the border or vaulting over areas of low barbed wire, but as the area grew more fortified, escape attempts became more elaborate. Amongst the items on display in the museum are improvised hot air balloons, a car modified to hide a stowaway alongside the engine, a canoe paddled into the North Sea in search of land or a friendly boat, and a harness used on a zip wire fired across the border. The bravery and ingenuity of those involved was truly astonishing.
=== Final Thoughts ===
The Mauermuseum is a fascinating place to spend a half-day if you have any interest in Berlin's recent past. While many visitors will be put off by the sheer volume of information presented in the galleries, anyone who enjoys reading about subjects in more depth than most museums allow and is happy to explore galleries structured more around a practical use of space than ordered presentation of facts will find the place filled with absorbing historical nuggets. True, it wasn't the most child-friendly museum I have ever set foot in, but I found the absence of multimedia exhibits quite refreshing and I actually enjoyed the simplicity of the display style. The entrance price is quite steep, especially when compared to other museums in the city, but I personally found it money very well spent.
=== Visitor Details ===
Nearest U-bahn station: Kochstrasse
The Mauermuseum is open daily between 9am and 10pm.
Admission is Euro12.50 for adults, Euro9.50 for students, Euro9.30 adults with a Welcome Card and Euro5.50 for children under 10. There were approximately 1.2 Euros to the pound at the time of visiting in March 2011.
Information panels were displayed in German, English and French. Some information was additionally presented in Russian.
There are lockers in the basement that are free to use but you need 1 Euro coins to activate them.
There was a small snack bar in the museum, but I did not use it.
The museum has a well-stocked shop of Wall memorabilia that is accessible to non-visitors.
Whilst in Berlin I thought I should at least have a look at the iconic site of where the United States Checkpoint Charlie was located.
For a full account of the history please have a glance the Wikipedia page, this is meant to contain insightful consumer opinion and experiences, and I would like to keep it that way.
On the actual road is a mock-up of a 1960s incarnation of the checkpoint and outside is a man dressed in a US Army uniform holding an American Flag and a man in a Russian Uniform holding a Russia Flag, and for a small fee you can have your photo taken with them (from what I can remember it's 1 Euro). Along Friedrichstraße lies the Museum itself; there is a gift shop entrance and a main entrance so make sure you enter the correct one.
As you enter the correct door you will see a small desk in which you can buy your tickets to enter the museum. From what I can remember it costs £12.50 for adults and £7.50 for children. While purchasing the ticket I was told that backpacks were not allowed inside the exhibits and that there were lockers downstairs. There is a short flight of stairs leading to a basement filled with lockers (which require a 2 Euro coin) and toilets. Although backpacks are 'verboten', from what I could see inside the exhibits, handbags are fine. When you climb back up the stairs you go through a turnstile in which you gain access by putting your ticket in until it beeps, then withdrawing it.
The exhibitions themselves are in rather cramped rooms with no real direction. There are lots of pictures, documents, models, pieces of art, videos and historical objects all accompanied by large boards of text in German, English, French and Russian.
NOTE: There are also Audio Guides., although I do not know the price, quality or what languages they are in as I believed I wouldn't need one.
The museum contains everything you could possibly want to know about Checkpoint Charlie, and probably more. The most fascinating being the attempts of different people to make the escape to freedom into West Berlin by any means possible: From modifying cars and building hot air balloons to digging underground tunnels and hiding in two hollowed out surfboards. The museum contains some of the cars used (or similar ones) in which they have placed a dummy in to show the cramped conditions people would suffer through for their freedom. In this museum you really get a sense of the struggle and the desperation of the people to escape.
What is particularly moving is a piece about how the riverbanks belonged to the west and the actual waters to the east, which lead to large amount of children drowning. The soldiers on the east were not permitted to rescue them due to the fear that they might desert. Another being that twice did truckers try to ram through the defences and through the wall... One managed it and said that bullets whizzed all around him, not hitting him. The other was shot once. Fatally.
The museum from what I could work out is loosely divided into different exhibits although most of them blur into one. One exhibit that was slightly different from the others was one about the 'worldwide non violent struggle for human rights', in which there is large bust of Gandhi.
On the third floor there is a large wedge shaped room in which the walls facing outwards were glass, this allows you to compare the street and checkpoint to the pictures on the floor. Also in this room is a glass box set in the floor containing pieces of the white borderline that have been pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. It had to be pieced together because it was rescued from a skip and sold to the owner of the Museum (who sadly passed away in 2004) for DM 20,000,000. It is set in the floor and is placed where the line would've been so you can easy walk across it, in contrast to the struggle that the museum shows. Here is also the old sign proclaiming that 'YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR', or something to that effect.
If you manage to find the end of the exhibits then there is a gift shop containing all sorts of souvenirs. Although to retrieve your bag (if you left one in the lockers) you have to leave the gift shop and enter via the main entrance.
One thing about this museum is that there is A LOT of reading, at first you are lured into thinking the museum will be very small and you try you read every piece of text, if you continued with that throughout the whole museum you'd be there for a long time, it is a quite a small museum but there is a lot to see in each room as you wind through, frankly not very well organized, apartments.
I recently visited the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie for the second time, the first being some years ago when I was only 15. My memories of the place were hazy I admit, but I generally put that down to the age I was when I had visited the museum originally - I'm not sure I found history and museums as interesting then! Entrance to the museum was around 12 euros per person, which I found to be quite expensive compared with other attractions in Berlin. The museum is spread over different floors and rooms, which was quite confusing, but then the building was probably not designed to be a museum! The displays were informative, and there were lots of personal accounts of individuals caught up in the division of the city, but the layout I found to be a little chaotic, with there not seeming to be a logical order to the progression of the visit. The display boards were multi-lingual so information was accessible to a wide variety of visitors which was positive, and there were some very thought provoking images, stories and displays such as the bubble car which was customised to provide the smallest of hiding places to smuggle people across the border. The original 'Checkpoint Charlie' sign is also within the museum - a replica now stands outside by the checkpoint guard station which is a popular photo point! All in all, the museum gave some interesting and moving accounts, although their display could maybe be more logical. There was an art display there which I found to be a little irrelevant, but then that is not what I had gone for and there were visitors there enjoying the artwork on display. I did think the museum was a little on the pricey side, especially as there are other wartime places of interest in the city which cost less, or are even free.
If you are an avid World War historian you will more than likely enjoy the personal approach of museum, but if your time in the city is limited I would recommend other wartime sites of interest over the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, such as the Camp at Sachsenhausen (not in city centre) which is an extremely emotive experience, and one which gives a visitor a lot to think about .
The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is one of Berlin's main tourist attractions. It commemorates the Cold War period in Germany when Berlin was divided in two by the Berlin Wall, with East Germany being controlled by the Communist Russian regime while West Berlin was controlled by the combined control of the French, British and Americans.
Entry to the museum costs Euro12.50 for an adult and you can also buy an audio guide for an additional Euro3. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. The museum is open from 9am to 10pm daily as is the small coffee shop situated at the museum. The museum also houses a public reference library which focuses on post-war history and the Cold War.
The museum was opened in 1962, in a different location to its current position, and moved to the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in 1963, nearby to one of the most famous border crossings on the Wall. From the house the escape helpers could view all movements at the border crossing, make escape plans and welcome recent escapees from the East. While the Wall was still standing the museum was a central point of the fight against the oppressive regime in East Germany.
The museum has exhibitions on the history of life on both sides of the Wall, the building of the Wall, the fall of the Wall and the attempted escapes from West to East Berlin. A large section of the museum is devoted to an art display of Cold War related art exhibits. Some specific artefacts include some of the weird and wonderful methods used by people to attempt to cross the border.
The entrance to the museum is a bit confusing. We knew from a friend who had previously been to the museum that audio guides were available, but this wasn't advertised very well at the main entrance. There is actually a separate entrance a few metres away from the main entrance where the audio guides can be purchased. When borrowing the audio guides you have to leave a piece of photo identification.
When we went to the museum at the start of June it was very crowded and overheated. But this was probably due to the group of 50 Japanese schoolchildren who were having a tour at the same time as us! We managed to find a spot on the floor where we could sit and listen to the audio guides which made the heat a bit more bearable. The layout of the museum is a bit confusing - it is not always clear which direction you are meant to be taking, but this adds to the authenticity of the museum which grew room by room.
The audio guides were also a bit confusing. You are meant to press the number on the guide whenever you see a number on the wall. The numbers are not always that easy to see and we found that we missed some out. The narrative on the guides was really good - there was a lot of information but it was difficult to tie the narrative to the artefacts in the room. There were around one hundred points on the tour and I have to say we only made it to about twenty before we gave up. The audio guides were very informative but did go on a bit, especially given that there was detailed narrative next to all of the artefacts. The artefacts contain plenty of personal stories as well as historical facts which really brought the history to life.
Overall, I would highly recommend this museum to anyone visiting Berlin. You really could spend a whole day there if you had the time and were interested enough. The price is probably in line with most other museums these days. The audio guides are very cheap at Euro3 and I would definitely suggest using these - they added a lot to my experience of the museum.