Time: Tuesday, 17 May 2011, 15:00
Venue: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Nussdorfer Strasse 64, 4th floor
Lecturer: Dr. Astrid M. Eckert
Title: West Germany and the Iron Curtain
In the seminar, Astrid M. Eckert revisits the history of West Germany during the Cold War by focusing on its most sensitive geographical space, the border with its ideological adversary, socialist East Germany. The Iron Curtain is commonly discussed in relation to the history of the GDR; after all, it constituted the most damning evidence of the GDR’s lack of political legitimacy. But the inter-German border did not only affect life in East Germany. In splitting a previously unified polity and territory, the new boundary also had social, economic and political ramifications on its western side. How did West Germans relate to and interact with the ever more fortified border on the country’s eastern edge? The seminar explores the emergence of borderlands where none had existed before, examines the Iron Curtain as tourist attraction and considers the varied impact of the border on the surrounding landscape.
Astrid M. Eckert is a historian of twentieth-century Germany and teaches at Emory University in Atlanta. Her 2004 book “Kampf um die Akten. Die Westalliierten und die Rückgabe von deutschem Archivgut nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg” is forthcoming in English as “Battle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of Captured German Archives after World War II” (Cambridge University Press). The book won the Hedwig Hintze Prize from the German Historical Association, among other distinctions. Eckert has also co-edited several collections of articles. Her awards and fellowships include grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung), and the German Historical Institute, both in Washington, DC, and in London. Born in Germany, Eckert was trained at the Free University Berlin, the University of Michigan, and Yale University. She is currently a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin.