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Escape from East Berlin (1962)

Approved | | Drama, History, Thriller | November 1962 (USA)
In 1962, a group of East Berliners escapes to West Berlin through a tunnel dug from the basement of a house located near the Berlin Wall.


Robert Siodmak


Gabrielle Upton (story), Peter Berneis (story) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Murray ... Kurt Schröder
Christine Kaufmann ... Erika Jurgens
Werner Klemperer ... Walter Brunner
Ingrid van Bergen ... Ingeborg Schröder
Carl Schell ... Major Eckhardt
Edith Schultze-Westrum ... Mother Schröder
Bruno Fritz Bruno Fritz ... Uncle Albrecht
Maria Tober Maria Tober ... Marga
Horst Janson ... Günther Jurgens
Kai Fischer ... Heidi Eckhardt
Alfred Balthoff Alfred Balthoff ... Klussendorf - a Neighbor
Anita Kupsch ... Bambi
Kurt Waitzmann Kurt Waitzmann ... Prof. Thomas Jurgens
Helma Seitz ... Frau Jürgens
Ronald Dehne Ronald Dehne ... Helmut Schröder


In January of 1962, 29 East Berliners escaped to West Berlin via a tunnel they had dug beneath the Berlin Wall, led by Erwin Becker, a chauffeur in the car pool of the East Germany Parliament, who served as technical adviser on this film. The film opens with Karl Schroeder (Don Murray), chauffeur to an East German Major, seeing a friend killed as he tried to drive a tow truck through a gate in the wall. He is persuaded by the friend's sister, Erika Jurgens (Christine Kaufmann), and his own family to engineer an attempt to make an escape to the Western sector of the city by digging a tunnel under the wall which is close to their home. Their efforts to evade the suspicions of the East German police, their fear of betrayal by inquisitive neighbors and the exhaustion of the digging are only a few of the difficulties faced by the group. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Terrifying but True! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Producer Walter Wood was denounced as a "Hollywood war-monger" and a "capitalist" in the official Soviet newspaper Pravda. See more »


When Kurt first meets Walter at the garage, there is a moving shadow of the boom microphone on a wall cabinet in the background. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: August 13th, 1961, concrete and barbed wire divide Berlin. Against all treaties and agreements with the West, the Communist build a barrier closing off the eastern section of the city. More than one and one-half million men, women and children, imprisoned without benefit of trial. They have committed no crime. Sentence: life. Freedom is gained only at the risk of sudden death at the hands of machine-gun bearing border guards. The weak links on the barrier offer the last small ...
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Referenced in Der Tunnel (1999) See more »

User Reviews

23 February 2016 | by MegaSuperstarSee all my reviews

This is a film about the essential value of freedom. It tells the story of how 28 people run away from East Germany to West by digging a tunnel under the Belin wall. Filmed shortly after the wall was built, the move succeeds not only in showing the oppressive, almost claustrophobic everyday life in Eastern Germany but also in telling a story in an interesting, almost noir way. As the story begins, we see how Walter Brunner (Werner Klemperer) tries to escape from East Berlin to West by crashing his truck against the wall. We also see how Kurt Schröder (Don Murray) tries to convince him not to do it. He feels fine in east Berlin (at least that's what he says) as he has a comfortable job working as a chauffeur to an east German officer. As the movie goes on we can see how people live in East Berlin (as American point of view). I have found some interesting points in this film that appear in a quite imperceptible and yet poignantly way. People is not only afraid of being controlled or spied by the government itself but also by their neighbors. Although this is not major developed, we can clearly seen how Schröder's neighbor watches almost every movement they make, or how fear the family is when Marga (Maria Tober) speaks with two German soldiers and the family thinks she is reporting them. When the Spanish civil war ended another civil war began: neighbors reporting neighbors to be republican to obtain a gain or simply because they hated them. Human beings at their worst but also at their best, which we can see by helping others and giving them the chance to escape. Having been left apart from Hollywood industry due to communist accusations, Siodmak did not want to make a political film and that's why he made it an intrigue one as well. And he hit it. Surprisingly (or maybe not so) the film was considered a minor one and not a success nor in Western German (where it was found too soft) nor in France (where it was found too propagandistic) but it was in the U.S.A.

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West Germany | USA



Release Date:

November 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Escape from East Berlin See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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