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10 Daring Ways People Escaped Over The Berlin Wall

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From 1961 until 1989,  the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany, along with the countless families who were stuck on either side.

The Berlin Wall was 27 miles long.Jacob's Dream

To reunite with their loved ones - or to escape Soviet East Germany - more than 5,000 people managed to cross the iconic barrier, while as many as 200 lost their lives trying.

Protesters destroy the wall in 1989.MNogolok

Along with armed guards, the Wall featured anti-vehicle trenches, search towers, beds of spikes, guard dogs and machine guns. To get across alive it took some serious courage and creativity, as these 10 daring escapes show.

1. Tunneling under it

Hundreds of people carved tunnels big and small under the barrier, escaping in ones, twos and small groups to freedom in West Germany. A dozen of East Germany's oldest citizens escaped on their own, which came to be known as the Senior Citizen's Tunnel.

A tunnel under Berlin.CIA

The group, lead by an 81-year-old man, spent over 2 weeks digging a 160-foot tunnel that started inside an East German chicken coop. When the escapees were asked why they made the tunnel 6 feet high, they said it was “to walk to freedom with our wives, comfortably and unbowed."

A woman is pulled to safety from an underground tunnel.100 Searches

2. On the "last train to freedom"

In December of 1961, a young East German train conductor named Harry Deterling made an unplanned stop in West Germany, ramming his train at high speed through the newly-built wall.

Guards repair the damage caused by Deterling's train.HuffPost

Deterling, his family and a group of passengers on the train stayed in West Germany for good, while a smaller group asked to be taken home to East Germany.

3. In a stolen tank

East German soldier Wolfgang Engels was lucky to survive after his escape plan hit a few speed bumps. Engels stole a tank and crashed into the wall, but unfortunately the tank didn't break through the barrier. Engels climbed out and over the wall, shouting "I’m getting out of here to the West, anyone want to come along?"

A shot of Engels' tank before he rammed the wall.HuffPost

On the way over, Engels became tangled in barbed wire and was shot by East German guards. Thankfully, he was rescued by West German barflies from a nearby tavern. "When I turned my head and saw all the Western brands of liquor on the shelf, I knew that I had made it,” Engels said.

Engels recovers in the hospital.thelocal.de

What sort of escape could be crazier than that?

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