13th August 1961: The first barb-wire and breeze-block barrier is built by East German communists to save their socialist state from collapse, to stop thousands of their citizens voting with their feet across the open border in Berlin - from East to West.
From the very first day of the Wall, any escaper risks betrayal, prison, or death. More than 136 people will die at the Berlin Wall before it is torn down.
But right from the start, there are families who refuse to be separated. Klaus Koeppen tries to smuggle out his fiancée Roswitha under the hood of a VW beetle. Rudolph and Horst Müller hijack a subway train to bring their families to the West. Wolfgang Engels borrows an army tank and drives it straight through the Wall. And when East German guards get wise to these tricks, the escapers start building tunnels...
A desperate ‘arms race’ begins, between the builders of the Wall and ever bolder and more ingenious escapers. The Wall grows taller, broader, more deadly - with watchtowers, electrified fences, alarm wires, dogs, and armed guards ready to shoot at anyone who touches the ‘death strip’ of brushed sand. And that’s just around West Berlin. On the border between East and West Germany there are booby-trapped guns that spit shrapnel at escapers, and hundreds of kilometres of minefields.