Tunnel 28 is a German-US co-production of Robert Siodmak's escape drama from 1962. This production is considered the first cinematic reaction to the construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961.
The film recounts events that took place in East Berlin in January 1962 . Kurt Schröder works as a driver of the GDR - Major Eckhardt and his wife Heidi. Kurt, who lives within sight of the Berlin Wall , has an affair with Heidi. One night Schröder overhears his friend Günther Jürgens trying to break through the wall with a truck in order to flee to the West. Juergens is killed in the process. Günther's sister Erika is looking for Günther when he does not return home and finally learns that Kurt had observed him failing to break through the wall. Erika then visits Kurt in his house, where he lives with his mother, his uncle Albrecht, his sister Ingeborg and his little brother Helmut. She informs him that she also intends to flee the GDR. However, she does not know that her brother Günther died trying to escape, and Kurt does not tell her either.
Kurt has settled in the GDR, he has no major problems. So he has no intention of "going over". But Erika believes she has an ally in him and tries on her own with boundless naivety to simply climb under the barbed wire. At the last moment Kurt stops her from doing the crazy idea, which is doomed to failure, and plays a couple with her when East German border guards approach. The first suspicion of an alleged GDR refugee can be dispelled with difficulty , but then a piece of Erika's clothing is discovered in the barbed wire. The border guards are immediately active. Erika's trail is followed up to Kurt Schröder's house. He hid her in a room under the floor so that the border guards didn't look for her there.
Kurt Schröder begins to rethink his position on the workers 'and peasants' state and finally makes a far-reaching decision. He wants to bring the entire family to the West. The neighbor Marga Wegener, whose husband is already in the west, would like to join. Kurt has the plan to dig a tunnel under the wall. He takes over all planning down to the last detail, but has no intention of leaving East Berlin himself. While the band of Uncle Albrecht, a musician, is playing loudly, drilling begins in the cellar. Kurt sets up a guard outside to watch out if something is brewing against them. The conspiratorial group was soon joined by another person who wanted to flee, Walter Brunner. While Kurt is feverishly busy building the tunnel, his feelings for the very young Erika grow stronger and stronger. Finally he takes heart and confesses to her that her brother Günther is dead. Kurt tries to comfort her. He now knows that he and Erika will flee to the west when the tunnel is finished.
The excavation work was completed on January 27, 1962. Kurt is the first to test West Berlin soil. The mass exodus should take place the following night. However, Marga Wegener makes a crucial mistake. Believing that Erika's parents were privy to their daughter's escape, she spoke to them about it. But Erika's father, a university professor, is loyal to the line through and through and reveals Major Eckhardt's escape plan. Kurt learns from his lover Heidi, the major's wife, that they are already looking for him. Kurt therefore urges us to hurry. At home he also has to find out that Uncle Albrecht has brought some of his band members who also want to flee. The number of tunnel refugees has thus increased to 28. The police have already surrounded his house when the daring escape begins. Kurt wants to be the last one to crawl through the tunnel to secure from behind. When a border guard sees him, he shoots and injures Kurt. With the last of his strength, Kurt makes it to the west of Berlin. He brings the tunnel to collapse and is pulled into the open by Erika.
The film was shot from May to July 1962 in the Berlin-Tempelhof studio. Since it was made in a German-American co-production, the film shot in West Berlin also had a US title: Escape From East Berlin .
The first performance took place in Berlin's congress hall on October 22, 1962. The following month, Tunnel 28 also premiered in the United States.
The Lexicon of International Films found Tunnel 28 "excitingly retold in a fictitious plot", but also threw in: "An entertainment routine, not a contemporary document."
Der Spiegel criticized the film: “Although three Hollywood authors and the German-American director Robert Siodmak, who was born in Berlin, showed great sympathy for the Germans who were walled in, the play of light turned out to be inartistic and not free from embarrassment. The advanced silent weekly charts from August 13, 1961 have a much stronger effect than the bland dramatization that followed. The dialogues between the main actors Don Murray and Christine Kaufmann could have been taken from speeches by the Federal Minister. "
- CineGraph - Lexicon for German-language film - Georg Krause
- Klaus Brüne (Red.): Lexikon des Internationale Films Volume 8, p. 3907. Reinbek near Hamburg 1987.
- Film review in Der Spiegel, issue 44, from October 31, 1962, p. 116