Actors dressed up as soldiers for tourists at the former Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin are being banned by the authorities.
Every day scores of tourists visit the former Checkpoint Charlie, the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War period in the German capital of Berlin.
For the past 17 years, a group of around ten actors dressed up as soldier border guards in US army uniforms have been working at Checkpoint Charlie, giving tourists stamps on their passports, selling souvenir visas as well as making money from tourists wanting their pictures taken with them.
But now the Public Order Office in Berlin has told the Dance Factory Agency, the company that supplies the soldier actors, that they will no longer tolerate the organisation using public streets in Berlin for their business. They were told they would need a special licence to operate and that this will not be granted.
The soldiers can make around 5,000 EUR (4,322 GBP) per day from tourists at the location, officially they claim it is just a donation, however undercover controls by police found that this was not the case and that tourists were forced to pay 4 EUR (3,50 GBP) per picture. Police reported the findings to the Public Order Office in Berlin, which has subsequently banned the practise.
Actor Tom Luszeit said: “We do not understand the sudden ban at all. I have had to fire six colleagues already, but we will not give up and want to make a comeback.”
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Story By: Kathryn Quinn, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
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