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The couple whose love defied the Berlin Wall

Regina and Eckhard Albrecht on their wedding day Photo: ITV On Assignment

Do you want to hear a love story?

One which might be the best you'll ever hear?

I just found it in Berlin.

It's a heartwarming tale of young love in the coldest of wars, which refused to be held back by one of the cruellest barriers in history.

As the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down approaches, I meet Regina and Eckhard Albrecht in a little village just outside the city. Now in their seventies, they still can't resist holding hands and giggling and hugging as they walk by the lake near their home.

It was 1967 when they became teenage sweethearts - She from the East, he from the West. They met at a school reunion for their fathers in East Berlin permitted by the authorities. When Eckhard returned to his home in the west of the city, they began writing to one another. But they soon realised even this was dangerous.

One of the letters exchanged between the lovers before Regina's escape Credit: ITV On Assignment

They show me one of the letters steamed open and read by the Stasi. Their every written word was monitored - eventually Regina was arrested for questioning and forbidden to contact Eckhard again. He was forbidden any further pass to travel to East Berlin, while his sweetheart only a few miles away was shadowed and spied on.

What followed was the sort of daring and defiance only ventured by the young.

Regina Albrecht speaks to ITV News Presenter Julie Etchingham Credit: ITV On Assignment

A letter smuggled by Eckhard's grandmother led to the pair meeting by Lake Balaton in Soviet Hungary. There they pledged themselves to one another - and hatched a plan for Regina to escape.

The first plan to get Regina out through a tunnel dug beneath the Wall failed when the Stasi uncovered the man who'd been digging it. Regina escaped arrest herself by a hair's whisker.

Then Eckhard borrowed 12,000 marks from his brothers and sisters to pay another 'Fluchthilfer' (escape helper) to smuggle Regina out in a car, hiding her in the petrol tank. Once again she travelled to Hungary to meet the driver who would finally get her past the iron curtain.

View of the Berlin Wall with separation barriers and death strips in 1965 Credit: Konrad Giehr/DPA/Press Association Images

On Tonight's On Assignment, hear how Regina and Eckhardt's thrilling love story finally got its happy ending - and how they married and in freedom watched the dreadful Wall come down.

And intertwined with their story, we meet the train drivers who take us to the ghost stations on the Berlin underground where the Stasi kept watch during Berlin's darkest days; the East German guard who made history by being the first to open the border on the night the Wall collapsed; and the woman who, as a teenager, climbed on top of the Wall that night as Berlin burst into a celebration of freedom and joy.

People celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate in November 1989 Credit: Peter Zimmermann/DPA/Press Association Images

As Germany prepares to mark the silver jubilee of the Wall's demise, their memories interlace with the story of the Eckhardts to show that in the end, even the starkest of barriers and the highest of Walls can tumble with the force of the human spirit.

It's a love story I'll never forget.

Watch Julie's full report for On Assignment, Wednesday 10.40pm on ITV1.

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