Watch where you tread

History is never far away in Berlin, one of my favourite cities. I was back there this year working on stories for European editions of Reader’s Digest when I came across a line of slabs set into the ground on Bernauer Strasse. They mark the path of the Berlin Wall which came down 9 November, 25 years ago. One of the slabs is inscribed: Fluchttunnel Tunnel 57. I found out that this was the exact sport where on 3 and 4 October 1964 57 people crawled underground to freedom from Communist East Berlin emerging in the West in what was then the basement of 97 Bernauer Strasse, an abandoned bakery. They owed their freedom to young ideological students who dug 12 metres deep from west to east for 145 metres, surfacing in an outhouse in the yard of 55 Strelitzer Strasse in what was heavily militarised East Berlin.  It was the longest and deepest of all Berlin’s escape tunnels. One of the tunnelers Joachim Neumann was reunited with and married his girlfriend Christa Neumann. He went on to work on 60 tunnel projects as a civil engineer, including the Channel Tunnel.  There’s plenty more at Berlin Wall Memorial

I also came across this vintage shot of my first visit to Berlin when the Wall still snaked for 100 menacing miles through the city. Crossing over to the East, an East German guard at Checkpoint Charlie studied my passport and said: ‘journalism is not allowed in East Berlin.’