Moments in Time

Checkpoint Charlie's 'Bay of Pig's'

Soviet Union, UK, US, and France divided Germany into four regions, each controlled by one of the four countries. Berlin, which fell under the region controlled by the Soviet Union, was also divided into four regions, each of which was also controlled by one of the four countries.

After the Allies rebuffed attempts by the Soviet Union to build the Berlin wall, Soviet and East German troops began denying Allied diplomats access to Berlin. Trouble began on October 22, 1961, when East German soldiers stopped a US diplomat from going into Berlin. US general Lucius Clay then ordered that the next US diplomat going into Berlin must do so with a military escort. The next diplomat passed through Checkpoint Charlie into Berlin with military escorts, although the East German soldiers showed some nonviolent resistance. General Clay then ordered the deployment of tanks at the checkpoint.

Ten US M48A1 tanks and three M59 armored vehicles were sent to the checkpoint and were soon joined by Soviet tanks. Tanks from both sides remained like this for the next 16 hours with their guns aimed at each other. The Soviets later pulled back one of their tanks, and the US did the same. This continued until all the tanks left the checkpoint.

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