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. The United States and the Soviet Union used it four times to exchange captured spies during the Cold War, and the Bridge was referred to as the Bridge of Spies by reporters.
The first prisoner exchange between the superpowers took place on February 10, 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.
The next swap took place on April 1964, when Konon Molody was exchanged for Greville Wynne.
On June 12, 1985, there was a hurriedly arranged swap of 23 American agents held in Eastern Europe for Polish agent Marian Zacharski and another three Soviet agents arrested in the West.
The final exchange was also the most public. On February 11, 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.