Maja Nielsen & Joachim Neumann

  • The tunnel builder
  • An interview with a contemporary witness
  • Offer for schools

Joachim Neumann fled the GDR in the early 1960s. After arriving in West Germany, he joined a group of students to dig escape tunnels from West to East Berlin. Via “Tunnel 57”, 57 people were helped to escape. He was also involved in five other escape tunnels. He kept quiet about his work for almost 30 years so as not to endanger friends and family members who had stayed behind. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that he was able to speak openly about his experiences. Author Maja Nielsen retells Neumann’s life story in her young adult novel Der Tunnelbauer (2024) and asks the contemporary witness about his most difficult and emotional moments, but also about what drove him not to give up during this time.

Maja Nielsen is an author and reading artist. She studied acting at the Hamburg University of Music and Drama and began working as an author for radio in 1998, since when she has published children’s books, non-fiction and audio books.

Age recommendation: Grades 7 – 13
Registration for school classes: Ingrid Stolz,
Participation also possible for individuals and adults.

Foto: Gerstenberg Verlag