If you’re only intending to visit the checkpoint and not the nearby museum, you won’t see many educational materials about the border crossing. It’s useful to know that the reconstructed guard point shows you the view from the American sector, later West Berlin. On the Soviet side, the defenses were far larger and more complicated, with a watchtower, zig-zag barriers, walls, and a shed for checking cars which passed through the checkpoint. The checkpoint in West Berlin was never considered a permanent structure by the Allies and West Germany, and the small and relatively accessible structure was meant to express that. Another thing to be aware of is that the checkpoint was the site of several escape attempts from East Berlin, some successful, many not. The most disturbing was the attempt of Peter Fechter in 1962, an 18-year-old who was shot by East German guards and was unable to make it past a barbed wire fence, where he died in full view of the guards on both sides, none of whom intervened. His death caused demonstrations in West Berlin and led to further restrictions being placed on Soviet troops as they moved through the city. He is officially listed as the 27th person to die attempting to cross the Berlin Wall. The checkpoint was also the site of many other important events from the Cold War - in October 1961 there was a stand-off involving tanks after Soviet soldiers insisted on examining the papers belonging to an American diplomat and his party, which was only resolved after a day of high tension and negotiation. The checkpoint was also the site of several prisoner exchanges between Soviets and the Western powers, which provided inspiration for several spy novels throughout the last 50 years.