Astrid M. Eckert
Daimler Fellow - Class of Spring 2011
Assistant Professor of Modern German History, Emory University
Astrid M. Eckert is a historian of twentieth-century Germany with a focus on the period after 1945. 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 also wrote a study comparing American images of the Japanese and German enemy in 1945–46, Feindbilder im Wandel: Ein Vergleich des Deutschland- und des Japanbildes in den USA 1945 bis 1946 (LIT Verlag, 1999), and has co-edited several collections of articles. Her essays have appeared in German-speaking newspapers such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in addition to a number of specialized American and German history publications. 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.
American Academy Project
West Germany and the Iron Curtain
As a Daimler Fellow at the Academy, Eckert will work on her current book project West Germany and the Iron Curtain. It investigates the history of the Federal Republic during the Cold War by focusing on its most sensitive geographical space: the border with its ideological adversary, socialist East Germany. While current scholarship places the Iron Curtain almost exclusively within the history of the GDR, Eckert’s work shifts the perspective and analyzes the consequences of the inter-German border for the “old” Federal Republic. The new postwar border created borderlands where none had been before. Starting with the anthropologist Daphne Berdahl’s concept that borderlands are in many ways “fields of heightened consciousness,” the book contends that developments on the eastern edge of West Germany are indicative of the transformational processes the country underwent during its forty years of existence. The book explores such phenomena as the militarization of the borderlands, their decrease in economic and demographic importance, tourism to the Iron Curtain, the changing natural environment along the border, and development of alternative lifestyles in the secluded towns and villages that amalgamated with anti-nuclear protest in the late 1970s and 1980s, especially near the village of Gorleben. By focusing on developments in its eastern borderlands, the study rethinks the history of West Germany from its periphery.
Historian of modern Germany Astrid M. Eckert, the spring 2011 Daimler Fellow at the Academy, revisits the history of West Germany during the Cold War by focusing on its most loaded geographical space: the border with its ideological adversary, socialist East Germany. The Iron Curtain is so called because of Winston Churchill's 1947 Fulton Speech, where the Prime Minister ominously observed:
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. »