Last Hope of the Spies

rbb-series: "Mysterious Places"

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Rolf Bergmann


astfilm productions | for RBB

Heavy layers of fog cover a bridge. Almost undetected, inconspicuous men are constantly screening the area, sealing it off. Suddenly the steps of two slowly moving shadows can be heard from the bridge. Slowly approaching each other, for a split second, just before passing by one another, their eyes meet. A few moments later, the perfectly staged operation is a success. The dramatic highlight of a classic Spy Movie, consistently used and consistently staged. A symbol for the secret deals of the secret intelligences in the Cold War. Such a highly sensitive operation took place on February 10th 1962. Powers and Abel are exchanged on the Glienicke Bridge and from then on the bridge became famous all over the world, as the secret "trade center" for spies.

Since the fall of the Wall a lot of traffic is crossing this still mysterious bridge between Potsdam and Berlin. Today countless people are crossing the bridge on every single day, a thousand times more than during 40 years of a divided Germany. Only a small sign tells of those dramatic events that took place on the bridge, when for a split second in history the Iron Curtain was lifted. Two airplanes, a killed U.S. Soldier, almost everything thinkable and unthinkable was exchanged on this bridge, sometimes from the East to the West, sometimes from the West to the East. With the spectacular exchange of the soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky the unique story of the secret deals on the so called "Bridge of Unity" ended. Involved in the last deal in February 1986: the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the GDR General Secretary Erich Honecker, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the General Secretary of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Some regard this moment as the first sign for a new geo-political strategy, for a time after the Cold War.

The Glienicke Bridge, a place with so much history: most important link of the legendary so called "Reichsstr. 1" between Aachen and Königsberg, setting for Helmut Kaeutner's famous film "Below the Bridges" shot 1944 during the hail of bombs and for four decades the best guarded bridge in the world. Today, more than 300 years after the first pillar was placed, this former arcane place of the Cold War is part of the world cultural heritage, center of the rediscovered "Prussian Arcadia".