The Glienicke Bridge (German: Glienicker Brücke) is a bridge on the edge of Berlin that spans the Havel River to connect the cities of Potsdam and Berlin near Klein Glienicke. The current bridge, the fourth on the site, was completed in 1907, although major reconstruction was necessary after it was damaged in the Second World War.
Bridge of spies
During the Cold War, Glienicke Bridge was one of the few places in the world where the Soviet Union and the Western powers stood directly opposite each other. Thus, “deals” could be made here without any of their allies having any say in the matter. The bridge lies at an isolated point where the US-occupied sector of West-Berlin met Soviet-occupied Potsdam, which was in East Germany.
The first prisoner exchange between the superpowers took place on 10 February 1962. The U.S. released Soviet spy Colonel Rudolf Abel in exchange for U.S. spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers captured by the USSR following the U-2 Crisis of 1960.
On 12 June 1985, there was a swap of 23 American agents held in Eastern Europe for Polish agent Marian Zacharski and another three Soviet agents arrested in the West. The exchange culminated after three years of negotiation.
The final exchange was also the most public. On 11 February 1986 the human rights campaigner and political prisoner Anatoly Sharansky ("Natan Shcharansky") and three Western agents were exchanged for Karl Koecher and four other Eastern agents.
In popular culture
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The Glienicke bridge as a venue for prisoner exchange has appeared frequently in fiction, most notably in John Le Carré's novel Smiley's People and the related BBC miniseries, as well as in the 1966 Harry Palmer film, Funeral in Berlin, based on the novel of the same name by Len Deighton.
The popular nickname 'Bridge of Spies' was used by the British band T'Pau as the name of the title track on their first album. The usage is metaphorical, referring to a 'walk to freedom' but in the context of long dreamt-of relationship.
The bridge is also referenced in the popular kid's TV show Codename: Kids Next Door, specifically when a bridge in a local mall is used to exchange a spy from the KND in return for a spy from the Teenagers, a clear parody of the real-life prisoner exchanges.
There is a brief reference to the bridge in episode six, season one of Archer, when Mallory Archer and her long-time lover (and head of the KGB) Colonel Nikolai Jakov mention meeting there "one moonlit night" when they both worked on covert operations in Berlin, presumably during the Cold War.
The Glienicke Bridge is the terminus of Potsdam tram route 93 from Potsdam main station, and of Berlin bus route 316 from Wannsee station. The two routes interconnect at a tram stop just on the Potsdam side of the bridge. Both Potsdam and Wannsee stations are served by the Berlin S-Bahn and by longer distance trains.
- Structurae [en]: Glienicke Bridge (1907)
- According to James M. Markham of The New York Times, the bridge was one "East German Communists call 'the bridge of unity,' but which might better be called 'the bridge of spies.'" Markham, "Shcharansky to Be Released In a Berlin Exchange Today," The New York Times Feb 11, 1986.
- От Абеля до Анны Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 12 July 2010.
-  George E. Curry, "U.s. Swaps 4 Spies For 25 Prisoners" The Chicago Tribune, June 12, 1985
- "Stadtplan Berlin". Berlin Transport Authority (BVG). Retrieved 2011-05-10.
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