'Checkpoint Bravo' up for sale in Germany

Checkpoint Bravo, once a major crossing point between communist East Germany and West Berlin and now a derelict slice of Cold War history, was going on sale in Germany Thursday.

Although less famous than Checkpoint Charlie in central Berlin, the site on the southwest edge of the city was once one of the busiest transit points in and out of the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Between the end of World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, West Berlin was an enclave in the GDR, heavily garrisoned by the Americans, the British and the French, while the Soviets held East Berlin on the other side of the wall.

The site up for sale on Thursday was used until 1969, before the checkpoint was moved a few kilometers (miles) away, and is now in a dilapidated state with a crumbling bridge and a former cafe with smashed windows and graffiti.

The pre-1969 path of the motorway before it was rerouted, known as the "Avus" by locals, is still visible but is now overgrown by grass, bushes and trees, and is a popular spot for hikers and nature-lovers.

With the sale starting around 1400 GMT, auction organisers set a minimum price of 45,000 euros (58,400 dollars) for the nearly 15,000-square-metre (160,000-square-feet) site.

Millions of people travelled through Checkpoint Bravo, either West Germans travelling from West Berlin to the rest of West Germany through the GDR, or the lucky few East Germans given permission by the authorities to leave.

Many also risked their lives trying to escape the communist country, hiding in the boots of cars or by more inventive means such as in hidden compartments in vehicles or by hot air balloon.