Question: How do you dig a tunnel into the most heavily guarded country in the world?
I remember watching on TV as the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but I wasn't even born when it went up in 1961. Still, I've always found accounts of it fascinating. And I have to say, this is the best book I've ever read about the lives of East Berliners and their desperate determination to be free.
In Tunnel 29, Helena Merriman tells the story of Joachim Rudolph, whose family unsuccessfully tried to escape the Red Army in 1945. He grew up in East Berlin, but managed to escape East Germany in 1961, crossing a dark field on a moonless night with his friend. Then he got his mom and sister out. But his story doesn't end there. In May 1962, he and several other university students living in West Berlin began digging a tunnel under Bernauer Strasse that would end up being 135 meters long. They dug night and day for over four months. They dug through thick clay. They evaded Stasi spies and risked their lives. And on Sept. 14, 1962, they broke through the floor of a cellar in East Berlin and helped 29 people escape to freedom.
I absolutely loved this book! It's eye-opening, informative, heartbreaking, compelling, extraordinary and life-affirming. And it will definitely be on my favorites list at the end of the year.
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