It’s the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall next month, and the occasion will be marked by various events in the city.
When the East German government built the wall in 1961, it didn’t take into account the ingenuity shown by those who were prepared to take any risk to try to escape the oppressive communist system.
While some flew over the barrier in hot air balloons and others were smuggled in secret compartments in cars, several hundred took advantage of the soft, sandy soil under Berlin to tunnel their way to freedom.
Now, that secret tunnel network has become one of the most popular attractions for tourists and locals alike. And their guide is often Hasso Herschel, who, in the 1960s and 1970s, helped dozens escape through the secret tunnels, some of which he dug with his own hands.
Mr Herschel, who escaped to West Germany with a forged passport in 1961, dug several illegal tunnels under the wall, the first in September 1962. It’s reckoned that about a fifth of the estimated 71 projects were successful. Often they were discovered by troops or secret police before they could be used. Others collapsed, were flooded or buried by loose soil.
Details of the underground tours can be found at http://berliner-unterwelten.de/
and for information on the city’s anniversary celebrations, go to http://www.mauerfall09.de/
by Andy Moreton
Whether visiting for the anniversary celebrations or at any other time of the year, Luxique can guide you through the best of the luxury hotels in Berlin.