CBS tried to film an escape, nearly triggered a trap

By Nathan Fenno
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The Washington Times
Sunday, January 19, 2014


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The 1 a.m., eyes-only cable shot into the heat and tension that enveloped the Berlin Wall in August 1962.Three West Berlin groups had finished tunneling from a lumberyard next to a railroad freight station in the U.S. sector, under the wall and into communist East Berlin. They hoped to bring out up to 90 people. About 6 feet of digging remained to break through the ground next to a large parking lot.
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CBS News correspondent Daniel Schorr and a German cameraman had taken three rolls of film inside the tunnel after agreeing to pay the groups 5,000 deutsch marks for the television rights. The money would help fund the escape. Mr. Schorr planned to film the main event for a television documentary to air later that month.But word of the undertaking had spread to State Department officials in Berlin and touched off a series of alarmed cables trying to head off an escape they believed to be doomed.“Urgent consideration should be given to steps to alert East Germans involved to high probability that secrecy broken and they [are] walking into trap,” Secretary of State Dean Rusk wrote in the early hours of Aug. 7, 1962.



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