Tour M – Under the Berlin Wall

Hear the stories of the people who tunnelled to freedom

Ever since the SED regime erected the Berlin Wall in August 1961, there have been repeated attempts to cross the deadly barriers through the urban sewer system or self-dug tunnels, thus gaining access to freedom. The first tunnel project “ran” in October 1961, the last failed in 1982. In total, more than 70 tunnels were started, of which, however, only 19 were successful. Through them, over 300 citizens of the GDR managed to make it from East to West Berlin to freedom. There were spectacular successes, betrayals and bitter failures. Soon, a veritable “cat and mouse game” developed between the tunnel builders and the GDR State Security, with increasingly difficult conditions for the escape helpers and refugees.
On this two-hour tour, we not only tell stories of the escape tunnels. The Berlin ghost stations, their seemingly perfect security against so-called border violators, and the sealing off of the sewage system against underground escape attempts are also extensively covered.
After a visit to the themed exhibition rooms in the civil defence facility in Blochplatz, travel by “subway shuttle” to Bernauer Strasse, a hotspot during the building of the Wall and a focal point in escape tunnel construction. Over a distance of just 350 metres, the border installations here were tunnelled under seven times. The exceptionally low ground water level made the creation of deeper escape tunnels possible. Near this authentic historical setting, we return to the underground. In the cellars of the former Oswald-Berliner Brewery, we explain by means of original scale tunnel replicas betrayed and failed tunnel projects, as well as the two most successful and spectacular projects from the time of the Berlin Wall – “Tunnel 29” and “Tunnel 57”.

After the tour we recommend a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial documentary centre.

Impressions