Spy Gate and Border Crossing

rbb-series: "Mysterious Places"

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Rolf Bergmann


Daniel Ast

astfilm productions | for RBB

"The strangest railway station in Berlin", "the labyrinth of the Cold War", "station of tears", "the passage to hell" ... millions of East and West Germans had here their very personal and direct border experiences, at the most famous railway station in divided Germany. The Friedrichstrasse Station: Mourning and joy, hope and despair, longing and rage. The time till departure, the arrival, or the time while waiting for a certain train, at all that people were filled with plenty of emotions. Some demonstrated in front of the "Palace of Tears" for the right to leave East Germany, others even tried to escape directly from the station into the West. The Friedrichstrasse Station was one of the few "joints" between East and West. It was the crossing for Erich Mielke's agents, the self-proclaimed "scouts for peace". It was the first station for all tourists and visitors from West Berlin, and the last one for all East German citizens that were granted permission to leave the country.

Just the pumping heart of Berlin, the station suddenly became a final station from both sides when the Berlin Wall was erected. At the same time it turned into the most important border crossing in a torn apart City, that was to be divided for decades. It also used to be the place where hundreds of employees were daily on "duty": at the border checkpoints, in the many "Intershops" or at the platforms. The Berlin-Friedrichstrasse Station - a place in-between the worlds. The modification and upgrading of this unique "labyrinth of control" never seemed to be completed. As out of a book from Kafka, it was to become a construction by a regime with an insane obsession for total security and control.

For the very first time, the documentary tells the story of this mysterious place.   Probably nowhere else German-German history put its focus on the feeling of being divided and still belonging to one people. 25 years after the Fall of the Wall, the film takes a in-depth look at the often dramatic events that took place on the stairs, halls, tunnels and platforms of the border station. Contemporary witnesses tell of their stories and give the history of Friedrichstrasse Station a face: A refugee hidden inside a train, a loving couple in the shadow of the "Palace of Tears", an officer of the Ministry for State Security escaping to the West by subway ...