East of Helmstedt and on the border between the states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt laid the largest border crossing between the former West- and East Germany. It was strategically located along the Autobahn (A2), which united West Germany with West Berlin. On the west German side, the checkpoint was called Checkpoint Alpha and on the east German side it was called grenzubergangstelle Marienborn. At the eastern border crossing, the cars and their passengers had to undergo rigorous checks to ensure that no people or other prohibited articles were smuggled between the two German states. Everything was extremely time-consuming and the bureaucratic process that sometimes involved interrogating the travellers’ plans took a long time. In particular, the citizens of East Germany were seen much more thoroughly than the citizens of west.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2012).

Address: A2, 39365 Marienborn.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Definitely a interesting museum, just like Hötensleben, is much better than the heavily commercialized Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. For those who wanted to smuggle whether it was people or forbidden goods, it was important to be incredibly imaginative so as not to be caught. Some of the goods seized were cassette tapes with Depeche fashion, men’s magazines, cameras, video film Highlander, sneakers, lego, walkman, model trains, etc. A not too daring guess is that some of what was seized ended up in the hands of the East German guards and officials.

Follow up in books: Fulbrook, Mary: The People’s State: East German Society from Hitler to Hoenecker (2008).