At its peak, the Berlin Wall was 100 miles long. Today only about a mile is left standing. Compared with other famous walls in history, this wall had a pretty short life span. The Great Wall of China has been … Continue reading →
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman, Mars five step, to keep in a defect in population stubborn, build twelve foot reinforced concrete wall. There was a warm step to build this all right next to it, creating a no man's land in between. Then there was a ten twenty major wide strip of land which there was absolutely nothing destiny months, land that was sprayed with chemicals that not even grass could grow. And it was raked every day that you could see the slightest clue that there was an escape this term step three though, the narrow road for vehicles of the secret police, the Stasi step for electrified barbed wire and also step five.
Signal wireless signal wires that if you touch it immediately and one of the watched hours there was the alarming and its p The Berlin Wall was a hundred miles long today, only about a mile is left standing compared with other famous walls in history. This wall had up pretty short lifespan. The great wall of China has been around for twenty five hundred years, so have the wall, of ancient Babylon, although its most- famous part. The target, is actually in a museum in Berlin. MRS Daniel Gross, but even though the wall dividing Berlin into EAST and west was only for thirty years, it had a huge. Act on the safety of the city. It broke family into now. Let us remember how it got here in nineteen. Forty five I've. Berlin was the fallen nazi capital. The weary victor's could agree on two things: one was bad too
Germany needed a big change after that they did agree on very much Berlin. Its carved up into two sectors with western countries controlling the west of the city and the Soviet Union. Controlling the east. Berlin had a booming postwar economy, but life was tougher in EAST Berlin, so in that that followed more than two million people fled from east to West East Germany was losing its most skilled workers as they sought jobs and a reunited their families across the border in EAST Germany was losing face with every EAST Berliner, who chose to the fact and that's why in nineteen. Sixty one EAST Germany closed its borders. To West Berlin with a wall, but this isn't a story about the design, the Berlin Wall. This is a story about one designed to get through it or really underneath it Ralph Combash was.
The tunnel headed diameter of less than one square metre. We had to safe space, the less we excavate, the better. It was you, couldn't sit euro laying on your back or unknown your friend and with it- We were driving the spade into the front face you couldn't dick for more than two hours. Then you really dead in nineteen? Sixty four Ralph was twenty one. A student at the free University of Berlin Ralph was studying. Civil engineering, He made a lot of models and did a lot of math, but he hadn't really ever built anything and, like virtually everyone in West Berlin, Ralph New and was related to people in EAST Berlin. Parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, classmates? How could they get to the west no trouble at all,
fly over it. The only way to get tunnel in nineteen sixty four western This could still visit the east if they were in good standing with the east german government that year Ralph took a trip, Parents and sister from the west to the east to visit extended family. Causing approached my suit me said: can you do something for me? I must get out of here rumours. I've been going around of tunnels popping up beneath the city, so gonna get back to to Berlin I had an idea was involved here. And I approached him we were living together in students, laboratory. Approached him, ask him and Four days later was in the tunnel,
to be clear. The kids were tumbling from West to east. They were tunneling into Communist EAST Berlin. Ralph has led to a defunct bakery along the porter. It had closed because too many of its customers were stuck in the east, near them, His entrance, you can actually see east german guard towers looming over the wall and in that bakery, young berliners. Carrying into the ground trying to dig? Under the wall and into EAST Berlin, we were digging vertically down until we go, to the groundwater table, if you don't want you tunnel to flood stay above the water table and from there we said, okay half meter above the ground water table. We dig forward straightforward horizontally, very simple: very simple in theory. In practice, Berlin is a nightmare underneath the surface. The city is a swamp the ground is so wet and sandy that to this day, construction workers have to pump water out of Berlin soil in order to build new subway tunnels,
They even use mobile refrigeration units to freeze the ground solid in trouble spots, but this however, by the bakery happened to be perfect for tunneling because here was the. Geologic soil is concerned. Mainly of clay if you dig there a hole in it, It is self supporting where's sand collapses and this is one of very, very few areas, amen around Berlin, where you have Saul information that made it for us. So interesting of does he knew it. From an engineering perspective. This bakery seem like the perfect place to dig a tunnel, but strictly equally, it seemed like a terrible choice. This was this where, right after the war was built, some Germans in the east traded jump out of their apartment windows into the west, which made
eastern government extra careful about security during the life of the wall. Five people died on the stretch of So we're talking about a bunch of twentysomethings digging a tunnel the length of one and a half football fields with a guard. Spade and a wheelbarrow under one of the most fortified borders on earth refers. Joining the second tunnel that this group had dug. The first tunnel had stretched nearly five hundred feet a six month, effort that They reached the backyard of an apartment building in the east. It was snowing and because the air inside the tunnel was warmer than outside, it left a small circle of melted snow which basin we told the starting you there's a tunnel over here within a few hours, the Stasi, found out and flooded with water, but Ralph College says that being twenty years old and free Berlin, They were all naive enough to try again The student leaders Wolski young folks proposed rivers. Psychology Wolfgang
it was really smart. Guy said you know: the Stasi before them not even dream about that. We use the same location for another tunnel, so idiotic. Nobody could be and it worked and also tunnel Ralph started working on in the summer of nineteen sixty four, the bakery The tunnel started was in the basement of an apartment, building full of retirees, a group of twenty so students going in and out other time would have been suspicious. So they had to be stealthy. They could they come in and out every couple weeks, in other words, the live there. The bakery had become a makeshift home, they say in military cots and warmed up can, on a little electric stove that ran on borrowed electricity Of course we need it more power, Then retired, couple is using normally moves stupid man of a power company would say my good
this. Normally they pay. What do I know about twenty dollars a month and now consume for two hundred. How come so one of our friends managed to get to the power supply cable before it went into the distribution, bore it before the power whose metered and registered to the various departments. The windows were painted white on the inside to minimize suspicion, but exercise, lighting in the bigger storage, room flower, and salt and sugar had been replaced with heaps and heaps of dirt. And when they need a fresh supplies like tools, baked beans, spare parts tape. So that was where Ralph came in, I had a job as a student on the weekend to deliver. Brings home service
had a small Volkswagen bully like a bus or station biggest station wagon, and that was of course, perfect. Come for it. Bringing in tools spare parts cans, Brett drinks, these boxes we're normally the bottles were. How much do you think he moved in the shaft going down that had a size of two by two meters: twelve metres said is threatened and fear. Already almost fifty cubic metres here, and then Forty five I never thought about it never thought about. It could be close to two hundred cubic metres Cross pitcher. An eighteen wheeler truck can haul about fifty cubic metres.
So wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow through the summer and into the autumn, ravenous friends, scraped and carved and heaved enough dirt to feel for Eighteen wheeler, big rigs, all the while worried the Stasi would spot them coming in and out or detect them with special. Acoustic, sensors- fall. Nineteen sixty four may finally, it's the they'd, aimed a basement just like last time, but and they miscalculated the one who was on duty on the front face of the tall, came back with a little planned? He saw their roots. That was grass. They hadn't noticed that the border zone sloped slightly downward, which forgivable, given the fact that they couldn't properly survey the land, but this time they were lucky, they had come up side and abandoned shed soon after the tunnel is left the shed they sent crew of messengers above ground, legally into EAST Berlin, to alert
her friends and relatives of the imminent escape. The message included a time it place and a password. At the time the radio's were buzzing with the news at the recent Olympics, Togo is dressed in her day best, while the opening of the eighteenth, modern Olympic and so The password was Tokyo, wouldn't have in the west, took, turns standing watch in the EAST holding pistols I hope they wouldn't have to use in the west, and other students should watch on the roof with a walkie talkie unless it send the stuff on one side then we had, of course, a very precise plan at age two p m those coming couple at eight thirty p m. There is coming a small family was one child and with the war, the turkey gave us the information, oh yeah refugee number so, and so is coming. We gave you information to the
The tunnel in that our people could prepare to open the door if the refugee camps, the door and saying job here, one by one EAST Germans entered the shed in the east and came out in the bakery in the west. It was after ten p m. Ralph was now on duty. In the last he had parked his view. W bus around the corner and was going to. I ve escapees to their first night of freedom in these past it was so silent. No, but he talked of the other just sitting there like like a nice book, and then I heard one whispering to his neighbor. Who knows whether, you're really in the west or is it nodded and other trap? Author snazzy? I never heard that that was like an electric shock. For me, these are, these Germans, who have just crawled to freedom through five hundred feet of mud
Freedom had been out of reach for so long that they didn't. Leave it. When they side, Sir Ralph decided to take a quick detour, he thought to himself you go with them, not the shortest way. You girls, who listen up that they see it with their own eyes. First in dumb, was the center of West Berlin cited the I can't largest department store in Europe. It is covered, with me, on lights and advertisements for Coca COLA and Marlborough, but you never see in the east out of a sudden livin, Checking the were joking laughing. We made it as if it I've been yesterday. Still in my head, the tunnel operated for two nights but among the students was at least one spy at the end, the second night too plain clothes, policemen, not the apartment or in the east tipped off by the spying students they did not know it
password Tokyo. The students standing watch open the door. A moment later and east german soldier appeared his way into the building and corner the student at the door with a Kalashnikov Then another student fired a shot, of them sprint into the back yard and into the shed while the Easter and police fire charts after them by the The night one east german soldier was dead we'll have been destroyed with grenades and fifty seven people had escaped, The tunnel became known as tunnel. Fifty seven but the one person Ralph was trying to get out his cousin was not among them. After the tunnel was destroyed. Sturm newspapers run about western gangsters who had tunnel day killed, one of their soldiers, the east,
government installed a plaque where they escape had occurred, condemning violent assassination, the West the students sent a letter over the wall using balloons, it read we speak on behalf of our group which, over the last half a year, built a tunnel through which fifty seven fugitives flood and at the entrance, which your son was shot first, we would like to express. Our sincerest sympathies were so heavy laws they would take. Responsibility for the death of this eastern soldier, but the letter went on but the real murderer is the system that addressed the massive flight of its citizens, not by removing the cause of the problem, I building a wall the story that in helping fifty seven people escape western tunnel, assisted for exactly thirty years, longer than the wall even existed. The story that, in helping fifty seven people escape West, Tumblr is killed and eastern soldier. The wall came down and nineteen eighty nine started
records revealed that the eastern soldier was actually killed by friendly fire and all the confusion. This step. Two controlling and affecting population builder all around information in prison over the regimes, reputation rediscover the world down to its roots and only a year later is over would have with our own history, no clue only here hundred metres and there's a little bit left here and that was then prevent preserved. You must stand, that from situation the Berlin, the vessel, Let us never. Let me say that, defence them. Like prisoners in. In a free guard. There was such hate such emotion, yeah. Turn it down, destroy it, never never never ever again. This is
and if the paradox of the past in Berlin destroy it, but never for This is a city with layers and layers of history, and yet it's gone The bunker were Hitler died, for instance, was mostly demolished for decades It was totally unmarked to prevent it from becoming a symbolic site for NEO Nazis. Finally install the plaque in two thousand six, even largest remnant of the wall, the EAST I'd gallery, which is covered with paintings from international artists slated. Partial demolition to make for luxury apartments, Ralph others became a transportation engineer. He digs. As for a tunnels, have you helped build several, subway tunnels, Korea, China, Thailand,
Ralph spent his entire engineering career digging underground when you finish school, got a job at the german engineering company that worked on railroads. It made him an international engineering consultant on underwear train systems all over the world: Typee Railway Tunnel type, subway tunnel, essence two Metro lines it matter lines what else These tunnels, where way way bigger than the Scr be tunnel. He dug with friends under the wall but far off. Those tunnels led back, at least in his mind, to tunnel. Fifty seven Let me say it a little bit like a joke. It was shit.
Projo percent. Invisible was breezes week by Daniel grows with SAM. It's been, every travel men and me roman Mars, and please welcome the newest. Ninety nine p I producer her name is Katy mingle. She comes to us all. The way from Chicago from the third Goes international audio festival if you happened to see her in the Berkeley Ball, say hello and pointer towards the good tortilla chips. We are a project of ninety one point: seven, local public radio, K, L debut in San Francisco and produce the offices of arc, sign a brilliant collaborative architecture, firm Loki,
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-15.