Associate Professor, History
aeckert@emory.edu
Phone: (404) 727-1096
Office: Bowden 217
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Astrid M. Eckert, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, (M.A., University of Michigan, 1995; M.A. Free University Berlin, 1998; Ph.D. Free University Berlin, 2003); modern German history. Author of Struggle for the Files. The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (Cambridge UP, 2012), awarded the 2013 Waldo Gifford Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists; also in German as Kampf um die Akten. Die Westalliierten und die Rückgabe von deutschem Archivgut nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (2004), awarded the 2004 Friedrich Meinecke Dissertation Prize of Free University’s history department, and the biennial Hedwig Hintze Dissertation Award of the German Historical Association 2004; co-editor of Der Holocaust und die westdeutschen Historiker. Eine Debatte [The Holocaust and West German Historians: A Debate], eds., Astrid M. Eckert and Vera Ziegeldorf (2004); editor of Institutions of Public Memory: The Legacies of German and American Politicians (Washington, D. C.: German Historical Institute/Sheridan Press, 2007).

I am a historian of modern Germany. My teaching covers European history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My research and publications center on the period after 1945. 

My first book focused on the early years of the Federal Republic of Germany, above all its quest for sovereignty in the face of Allied occupation and its confrontation with the Nazi past. I examined the history of German records and archives confiscated in the wake of the Second World War, and in particular the tangled negotiations concerning their return to (West) German custody. Because of their symbolic value, these negotiations were not just another foreign policy issue for the new Federal Republic. All participants were aware that these files constituted the historical material essential to (re)write recent German history. An interview with the New Books Network is here.  

 My new book project West Germany and the Iron Curtain investigates the impact of the inter-German border on West Germany from its inception to the 1990s. The border between the two German states was never a mere geographical boundary. Its political and social function was to delineate the socialist project from its capitalist foe and to prevent East Germans from exercising a choice between the two. Unlike other fortified state borders, the Iron Curtain was set up to lock people in, not to keep intruders out. In view of its centrality to the very existence of the GDR, the border regime has long played a key, albeit not an exclusive role in the historical analysis of East Germany. But the Iron Curtain’s effects were not limited to the GDR. It did, after all, split a previously connected polity and territory. What, then, were the consequences of the increasingly fortified border for West Germany? How did West Germans relate to and interact with the inter-German border over the decades? In order to address these questions, my study focuses on the most sensitive geographical space of the “old” Federal Republic, the regions on its eastern edge abutting the GDR. These borderlands only emerged because of the Iron Curtain. Like West Berlin, they were spaces created by the Cold War. They constituted a laboratory where West Germany had to wrestle in concrete ways with its ideological adversary, socialist East Germany, and to address the practical consequences of partition. Starting with the assumption that borderlands are “fields of heightened consciousness” (Daphne Berdahl), the project puts this periphery at the center of attention and examines the political, economic, environmental, military, and cultural meanings of these borderlands for West Germany. Recent publications on this new project are here and here and here .

My Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • MA, Free University of Berlin, 1998
  • MA,University of Michigan, 1995
  • PhD, Free University of Berlin

Interests

  • Modern German history
  • Modern European history
  • Environmental History 

Current Graduate Students