Tunnel 29. By Helena Merriman. PublicAffairs; 352 pages; $28. Hodder & Stoughton; £20 T HE PLAQUE at 7 Schönholzer Strasse, in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg district of east Berlin, is easy to miss. Yet it marks one of the most astonishing episodes in the grim history of communist East Germany. For it was from here, in September 1962, that 29 East Berliners escaped to freedom via a narrow, 120-metre tunnel underneath the wall that had cleaved their city in two a year earlier. "Tunnel 29", by Helena Merriman, a British journalist and broadcaster, began as a popular podcast, aired by the BBC in 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall. Happily, the written account is no less captivating. The hero of the tale is Joachim Rudolph, whom Ms Merriman interviewed extensively in 2018. A young engineering student with a tragic family history, Mr Rudolph flees East Berlin less than two months after the wall's construction—before concrete reinforcements, trigger-happy guards and wide strips of no-man's-land were to render it almost unbreachable (at least 140 people were killed trying to escape from East Berlin before the wall came down in 1989). Safely ensconced at West Berlin's Technical… Read full this story
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