Smithsonian Institution. With many of the same students, he set out to build another tunnel – beginning in a derelict bakery in the West and burrowing underneath more than the length of a football field. This is accessed via a visitors’ tunnel approximately 30 metres in length, which was built by Berlin Underworlds over a period of a year and a half. Tunnel 29 is the extraordinary true story of a group of students and refugees who dug a tunnel right under the feet of Berlin Wall border guards to help friends, family and even strangers escape. “We were told the street address, and asked to pretend as though we were just on a normal Sunday evening visit to some acquaintances,” Hans-Joachim Tilleman, one of the people who escaped through the tunnel to the West recalled. The heart is going…” Tilleman makes a fluttering gesture with his hand at his chest where his heart is. Depending on the mode of accounting, this last method was not particularly successful. Student and future astronaut Reinhard Furrer was among the West German escape helpers who assisted the East Berliners in escaping. General Information; Chronicle. The tunnels were 140 metres long, 80cm high and 80cm wide – small enough to dig quickly but big enough to turn around in. The guard tried make small talk, asking Neumann what he thought of Germany’s capital city. In January of 1962, 29 East Berliners escaped to West Berlin via a tunnel they had dug beneath the Berlin Wall, led by Erwin Becker, a chauffeur in the car pool of the East Germany Parliament, who served as technical adviser on this film. And so as I stood waiting for my passport to be checked, I decided to pretend that I was an arrogant Swiss tourist.”. As the night dragged, a few of the border guards on patrol noticed something was askance. Neumann and Christa Gruhle were later married, and they remained so. But repeated failures rarely amounted to all-out dejection. By his own account, it wasn’t until he reached the border checkpoint at Friedrichstrasse S-bahnhof and was standing in front of the East German guards that he quite realized how dangerous this endeavor was. Berlin has opened a long-awaited new subway section that tunnels under one of the city’s best-known boulevards and improves transport links from … During the two days it operated, it was the single most successful escape in the history of the Berlin Wall. “We didn’t see a light, so we continued to the building. Under the Berlin Wall Tour. or The project involved western intelligence operatives tunnelling under the Iron Curtain and physically tapping into a Soviet military phone cable to listen into every phone conversation and telegraph communiqué between Moscow and the East German capital. Advertising Notice The tunnel was demolished. BERLIN (AP) — A long-awaited subway extension that tunnels under one of Berlin's best-known boulevards and improves transport links from the German capital's central railway station opened Friday. Terms of Use October 6, 2010 By Robert Rigney Contributor; Berlin A West German escape helper, Christian Zobel, opened fire, the bullet piercing the lung of young East German guard Egon Schultz, who was then fatally wounded by friendly fire from another guard. BERLIN — A long-awaited subway extension that tunnels under one of Berlin’s best-known boulevards and improves transport links from the German capital’s central railway station opened Friday. The police – including the Stasi – were brutal and relentless in their persecution of people trying to flee from the GDR. Neumann is the sort of man who, under normal circumstances, strikes one as nothing other than unremarkable. “We stood there, hardly … As a university student in West Berlin, Neumann had no trouble finding groups of students who were trying to open escape routes for East Germans. In "Race for the Reichstag" Tony Le Tissier mentions that orders were issued from the Führerbunker on April 21, 1945, to stop all traffic in Berlin's U-Bahn and S-Bahn tunnels and to erect barricades at various points in the tunnels. “The real murderer is the system that addressed the massive flight of its citizens not by removing the cause of the problem, but by building a WALL and giving the order for Germans to shoot Germans.". Everyone was palpably aware of the border patrols’ vigilance. Neumann responded by sticking his nose in the air and harrumphing. “No other idea is as perfect to describe how the wall changed things.”. And we were very close to the soldiers. Schultz’s death was blamed on young radicals by the East German government. When he had escaped in 1961, using the borrowed passport of a Swiss student, he left behind most of his family and friends, including his long-term girlfriend, Christa Gruhle. They tunneled under it, flew over it, and in its early days even climbed across it. For four decades it sat under the contested soil of cold war Berlin. Soviet authorities were informed about Operation Gold from the very beginning by their mole Ge… Often tunnels were discovered before they could be used by the border troops or the Stasi, East Germany's dreaded secret police. Under Berlin is a web of lakes, tunnels, canals and factory infrastructure that dates to World War II. This was a much more complex variation of the earlier Operation Silver project in Vienna. California Do Not Sell My Info Only around 300 people escaped over the course of nearly 30 years through tunnels that took months to dig and were, more often than not, discovered before being employed for their intended purpose. The tunnel was ready on October 3, 1964. Gruhle was one of those caught and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Dripping with condensation, lined with stalactites and green mold, the air is chillingly cold and undisturbed. Years after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, and Germany was reunified, a case was opened concerning the death of Egon Schultz. They sent a few plainclothes officers to the door of Strelitzer Strasse 55, who quickly realized what was happening and called for back-up. Courtesy of Ralph Kabisch. 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The diggers, distraught, responded by sending balloons over the wall with a letter attached. Tunneling from West Berlin to the underground cables in nearby East Berlin was judged to be feasible and hidden from visual surveillance. Others collapsed, were flooded by … “The causative murderer is the East German secret police,” the letter read. Joachim and Hasso were waiting for them in the cellar, guns in their hands. The surface of the tunnels begin around 250 feet under the ground. It tells the story of Joachim Rudolph - who, in his early twenties, joined a group of people digging a tunnel from West to East Berlin, right under the feet of border guards, to help 29 others escape. There were some people inside, and we told them ‘Tokyo’ and they let us into the hallway where we took off our shoes and tiptoed to the inner courtyard. Sixteen years earlier, Germany had been defeated in the second World War and the country had been carved into four sections administered by the victors: France, Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. Just after 6pm, they heard footsteps. An escape tunnel underneath the Berlin Wall opened on Thursday for the first time as Germany commemorates the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Most tunnels were dug from the West to the East. They weren’t sure where exactly they would emerge on the eastern side, and considered themselves lucky when, upon breaking ground, they found themselves inside an old outhouse behind an apartment building at Strelitzer Strasse 55. It is the only real escape tunnel which can still be visited today. In the confusion that followed, as the students retreated toward the outhouse in an attempt to reach the tunnel opening and scramble back toward the bakery, a few shots were exchanged and  a young border guard named Egon Schultz was shot. 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