If you think of Cold War, of course Potsdams bigger sister Berlin is popping right into your mind. With East Berlin being the capital of East Germany and the West Berlin as an enclave of the western occupation zones, surrounded by the Berlin Wall, there is no doubt that Berlin was the Cold war hotspot. Two political systems facing each other for decades.
But where did those zones come from. Who decided to devide Berlin, Germany and with it an entire continent? The answer takes you back in history to the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
In the premises of Cecilienhof Palace the allies Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the United States agreed to divide Germany into four occupation zones, which later led to the division of Europe. This is where the Cold War was born.
But that’s not the only trace of Cold War in Potsdam. The city was also home to the German headquarters of the Soviet military espionage defence which was located in the residential area between Pfingstberg hill and the New Garden. For decades the area consisting of mostly noble mansions could only be entered by electric readers, chimney sweeps and of course secret agents. Contact between Soviet military personnel and Potsdam civilians were rare.
Right in the centre of the “forbidden city” was a central Remand Prison of the Soviet Military Counterintelligence Service, which is a memorial today. Here you get a deep insight of the former conditions. Numerous inscriptions on the cell walls impressively reflect the deprivation of rights and isolation of the prisoners. The permanent exhibition shows the history of the building and tells you about prisoner’s fates that set you into a goosebumps-mood.
On the other side of the New Garden, Glienicke Bridge was the connection to West Berlin. The ideal location of the bridge made it the perfect place for secret services to exchange busted spies. If you want to get to know more about Potsdam in Cold War years and the Glienicke Bridge, we recommend the film "Bridge of Spies" with Tom Hanks, that tells the story of the first agent exchange that took place here between the Soviet Union and the USA in 1962.