These days, the Glienicke Bridge is the easiest way to reach Potsdam by road.
At first glance, Glienicke Bridge doesn’t seem like anything special. Simply designed, constructed of steel and little over 100 years old, it would be easy to pass over it without a second thought. And yet this bridge has been the subject of countless stories, books, and a 2015 Steven Spielberg film starring Tom Hanks. It is more commonly known as the Bridge of Spies.
Although there has been a crossing here of one sort or another since 1660, it was not until 1907 that the current bridge was installed. After being severely damaged by an unexploded shell in 1945, the bridge underwent a full renovation and was not completed until after the division of Germany into East and West. The significance of this change for the bridge would not become clear for several years.
It was during the Cold War that Glienicke Bridge was thrust into the international spotlight. This portion of the Havel river formed the border between East and West Germany, and became an iconic location where captured secret agents and spies from both sides would be exchanged. It began in February 1962, when the American pilot Francis Gary Powers and the KGB spy Rudolf Ivanevich Abel were traded. This was one of very few places in the world where the Americans came face-to-face with the Russians, a political powder keg that became the source of enormous international strain. A total of 35 more agents were exchanged during the Cold War, thus permanently cementing Glienicke’s place in history.
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