Wed, 25 August 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST

Tunnel 29 – The Extraordinary Story an Escape Attempt Beneath the Berlin Wall

Helena Merriman In Conversation With Hannah MacInnes

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Fans of Philippe Sands, Ben Macintyre and John le Carré should not miss the stranger-than-fiction story of escape from one the cold war’s most brutal regimes.

It’s summer, 1962, and Joachim Rudolph, a student, is digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Waiting on the other side in East Berlin – dozens of men, women and children; all willing to risk everything to escape. But as he burrows closer, Joachim doesn’t know that the escape operation has already been infiltrated…

Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews with the survivors, and thousands of pages of Stasi documents, award-winning broadcaster Helena Merriman joins us to reveal the true story of the most brazen and brilliant escape attempt of the cold war.

We’ll meet the student-diggers, the glamorous red-haired messenger, the American News network which films the escape, and the Stasi spy who betrays it. This is the story of what happens when people lose their freedom – and how some will do anything to win it back.

Praise for Helena Merriman’s Tunnel 29:

‘A gripping real-life page turner, packed with great characters stuck in impossible situations. This is nonfiction at its very best, and more dramatic and incredible than any fiction I have read for a very long time.’ – John O’Farrell

‘Merriman takes us inside not only the tunnel, but also the personal lives of those who dug it. We feel we’re experiencing history as it happens. It’s a gripping story of bravery, determination and, ultimately, love.’ – Lindsey Hilsum, author of In Extremis: the Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

‘Combining the fun of a thriller that we know will end happily with grim perspective on history and tyranny… stunning’ – New Yorker

‘Reminiscent of a savvy Netflix block buster series’ – Evening Standard

‘A truly exciting yarn… creates a sense for the listener of being right there in the tunnel, experiencing the dangers.’ – Observer

‘The stranger-than-fiction tale of a university student who masterminded a tunnel from West to East Berlin… From a spy inside the tunnellers’ inner circle to an unusual source of funding, this is a story that is genuinely unpredictable.’ – Guardian


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Helena Merriman

Journalist and Broadcaster

Helena Merriman is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. As well as writing and producing Tunnel 29, she created The Inquiry – an award-winning BBC current affairs podcast. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Hannah MacInnes

Presenter, Podcaster and Host of How To Academy’s live programmes.

Hannah MacInnes is a broadcaster and journalist. Alongside hosting How To Academy’s live programmes and podcast, she presents a cultural show on Times Radio and interviews on-stage at a number of other major literary events. She is the host of The Klosters Forum Podcast series and has written for the Radio Times, the Evening Standard and TLS. Before going freelance she worked for 8 years at BBC Newsnight, as Planning Editor and as a Producer / Filmmaker.