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Chapter 141"Der Tunnel" (The tunnel) - teaching material for the film

  • Number of downloads:691
SAT.1 SatellitenFernsehen

Fleeing the country through a tunnel

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SAT.1 SatellitenFernsehen

Part of the series German films

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Description

The central character of the film is Harry Melchior, based on the real tunneler, Hasso Herschel. Despite being imprisoned for several years for his role in the June 1953 uprising in East Germany, Melchior competes for and wins the national swimming championship in 1961. With the aid of a false passport and disguise, Harry succeeds in fleeing to West Berlin. His best friend, Matthis, manages to escape through the underground sewer, but Matthis's pregnant wife Carola is caught and remains in East Berlin. Harry's beloved sister, Lotte, and her husband and daughter are ambivalent about leaving the confines of the GDR.
Committed to getting their loved ones out of the GDR but knowing that ground routes are heavily guarded, Harry and Matthis have the idea of going underground. Matthis is an engineer by training. They link up with a small circle of others, initially Vittorio 'Vic' Constanza and Fred von Klausnitz. They find an unused factory building close to the Wall that has ample underground space. They are eventually joined by Fritzi Scholz, whose fiancé, Heiner, is also trapped in the east.
The work is slow, hard and sometimes dangerous, and the group reluctantly agrees to take in several more helpers. Over a span of months, the tunnel takes shape following Matthis' design, with the necessary shoring, lights and even a railbed. Discovering a film crew from NBC in the city one day, the leaders convince the network to fund their efforts in exchange for exclusive footage of the digging and eventual escape.
In the meantime, communication with the would-be rescuees in the east is necessary but hazardous. Vic, an American citizen, can pass through the border freely. He is in contact with Lotte and with Carola. The latter, however, has been blackmailed by the Stasi to inform; if she does not cooperate, the state will take her soon-to-be-born baby. Carola informs on Vic and he is detained when trying to cross back to West Berlin. He is released after a while but cannot go back to the east. Fritzi's love, Heiner, makes a futile attempt to cross the barbed wire and walls, but is shot by the East German border guards and left to die in a scene mirroring the true case of Peter Fechter. The American soldiers prevent Harry from climbing the wall to help Heiner.

Downloads

Der Tunnel: Didaktisierung aus Frankreich (deutsch)

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