The Gleinicker Brücke is a bridge in Potsdam, Germany that is the subject of the Steven Spielberg movie “Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks for release on October. It is based on the cold war U-2 incident when American U2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the USSR on the first of May 1960. Powers was then captured, convicted of espionage and held prisoner by the Soviet Union for one year, nine months and ten days. The movie tells the story of the negotiations that surround his eventually release from Soviet authorities in exchange for the Soviet captured spy Rudolf Abel on February 10, 1962.
The Gleinicker Brücke is a bridge across the Havel River in Germany, connecting the Wannsee district of Berlin with the Brandenburg capital Potsdam. During the cold war it straddled the boarder between West Berlin on the east end of the bridge and East Germany on the west end. It was closed to all East German citizens after the construction of the Berlin Wall in August of 1961. Walking across makes you wonder was going through the minds of spies as they passed each other by on the bridge and their walk to freedom. It was the site of other spy exchanges and thus today retains its name as the Bridge of Spies.
When visiting Berlin you can take an S-Bahn train for a short ride out to the Potsdam bahnhof station. Depending on which Berlin station you depart from multiple trains run throughout the day. Check BVG.de for train schedules from Berlin to Potsdam. At the Potsdam station you can catch tram #93 and go to the end of the line and the Glienicker Brücke. Walk across the bridge and in the middle you will see the old boundary between East Germany and West Berlin.
While in Potsdam you can also visit the imperial palaces of Sanssouci, Neues Palais, Orangerie and Schloss Charlottenof a World Heritage site. City Buses run regularly form the center of Potsdam and the train station to the Palace Park. The most popular Sanssouci, is very busy from late spring till early fall so buy tickets well in advance if you plan to tour the inside of the palace. The park is beautifully kept and provides another look at how European royalty lived so long ago.
From the Glienicker Brücke you may also take the 316 or N16 bus to Wannsee train station. Take the 114 bus out to the Wannsee conference house. It was here that top SS officials met on the 20th of January 1942 for a 90 minute meeting. With the tide of the war turing against the Nazi regime, SS officials put into action a mass extermination program, called “the Final Solution”, against people they did not consider their equals as humans. Besides targeting the Jewish population, citizens of other countries like Czechs and Poles, ethnic groups of the Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, physically and mentally challenged, as well as political adversaries, especially Communists were marked for extermination. For anyone who ever doubts the holocausts or its enormity need to visit this site as well as, the concentration camps. Documentation on the walls of this house clearly state the orders to be carried out with their quota’s of how many people needed to be exterminated by country. Several movies have been made from the meetings minutes found after the end of the war. There is a German version called “The Wannsee Conference (Die Wannseekonferenz” and the American version , starring Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci called “Conspiracy”.
After visiting you can catch regular trains back to Berlin from either the Wannsee or Potsdam bahnhof stations, depending on which you decide to do last.