Tunnel 29: True tale of extraordinary escape under Berlin Wall
Berlin, May 1 (EFE).- Tunnel 29 by British journalist Helena Merriman tells the true story of a group of students who built a tunnel under the Berlin Wall which allowed 29 people to flee the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1962.
Merriman interviewed the protagonists of the extraordinary adventure and delved into thousands of German secret police files for her book, which is considered one of the most extraordinary episodes in the recent history of Berlin.
“I wanted to tell a story that would explore what happens when you build a wall in a country or a city because of all the experience I have had as a journalist,” Merriman tells Efe.
“So many of these countries I have seen myself first-hand governments building walls or barriers to either keep people in or keep people out. Seventy countries now – that is one-third of the world – have some kind of wall or barrier,” she adds.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to prevent Berliners from the Soviet sector from escaping to the West.
The book tells the story of Germany between the end of WWII in 1945 and the fall of the wall in 1989, from the perspective of its protagonists, including Joachim Rudolph, who was just a boy when the war ended.
Feeling trapped by a repressive regime, Joachim, alongside other students, spent four months underground digging a 132-meter tunnel that allowed 29 men, women and children to flee the GDR.
“The main thing I would love for this book to do is just to raise the question, to help more people ask why is it that we reach for walls as a political solution when we have seen time and time again that they do not work,” the writer says.
“What you find with all these walls is that wherever you build them people always find ways to get around them because they do not solve the underlying political problem,” she adds. EFE