Escape Routes and WWII reminders
Dissidents trying to flee East Berlin across the wall had all sorts of strategies: hiding in secret compartments of cars permitted to cross, ramming trucks directly through the wall, using ropes to shimmy over the barrier and, of course, building underground tunnels. Twelve tunnels were started in this neighborhood but only three succeeded in becoming portals for escape.
You will first walk by one of three successful tunnels at Schönholzer Strasse 7. This 135-meter-long (442-feet-long) tunnel permitted 29 people to escape over two days in September 1962 before the Stasi shut it down. You may wonder why the tunnel was started on the side of the street farther away from the wall. Probably because the Stasi had extra spies watching houses that abutted the wall.
Before walking to another tunnel site, you may wish to make a short side trip to Arkonaplatz, which has a wonderful market on Fridays and Sundays, and several cafes for any required rest stops. To go to Arkonaplatz, turn right on Ruppiner Strasse and walk two blocks. To continue along the aall's path, turn left at Ruppiner Strasse and walk back to the death strip.
When you reach Kremmener Strasse, stop at No. 7 and look down. You will see that several of the street's cobblestones have been replaced by bronze plaques that bear the names of Jewish residents who were deported to concentration camps during WWII, as well as their dates of birth and death. These are part of a project called "Stolpersteine" by the artist Gunter Demnig; it aims to acknowledge Nazi victims across Germany and other occupied countries.
At Kremmener Strasse 15 you will find a tunnel that was built in the basement of a bakery but that unfortunately failed. The tunnel reached 45 meters (148 feet), about one-third the length of the successful Schönholzer Strasse tunnel, but the Stasi got wind of the diggers and arrested 19 of them in 1963.