Our museum was founded shortly after the construction of the Wall (13 August 1961), and opened on 19 October 1962. "As closely as possible to injustice is where human greatness reveals itself the most," said our museum's founder Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt. So he used the museum at Checkpoint Charlie as an expression of protest against the Wall, and to help those in need. The museum grew over time and helped bring the Wall down. The museum has helped write history..
The items in the museum bear witness to this. There are original possessions from successful escapes, a hot-air balloon, a mini submarine, escape aircraft. Those who aided in escapes were at home in our museum, the escapes were planned here and GDR injustice was combatted here. Our museum was the last island of freedom before the border. After the escapes, the refugees and their helpers donated these items and other original objects to our museum. As a result, the museum grew organically as historical events unfolded. Friendships with escape helpers brought us hot-air balloons, escape cars, chairlifts, and a mini submarine. We have activists in the resistance to thank for a spring gun, dismantled at the risk of life, and a pipe support from the Wall obtained by "Wall runner John Runnings". We are also able to claim the title of first museum of international non-violent protest. Our exhibits include the Charta 77 typewriter, the hectograph of the illegal periodical "Umweltblätter", Mahatma Gandhi's diary and sandals, and from Yelena Bonner the death mask of her partner Andrei Sakharov.