Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Astrid M. EckertProfessor

Astrid M. Eckert, Professor (M.A., University of Michigan; M.A. Free University Berlin; Ph.D., Free University Berlin). Modern German history; postwar European history; borderlands; environmental history, especially conservation and ecology.

I am a historian of modern Germany and Europe with a current research focus on environmental history. In my teaching, I cover the cultural, social, political, economic and migration history of modern Germany, including the Nazi era, as well as postwar Europe.

My first book, Struggle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2012, Pb. 2014) is a study of cultural diplomacy that addresses 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. The book was awarded the 2013 Waldo Gifford Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists. It was first published in Germany under the title Kampf um die Akten (Steiner Verlag).

My second book West Germany and the Iron Curtain. Economy, Culture & Environment in the Borderlands (Oxford UP, October 2019, Pb. 2021) analyzes the consequences of the volatile inter-German border for West Germany. This 1,400-kilometer-long border between the two German states was part of the Iron Curtain that divided postwar Europe into West and East. The book takes a fresh look at the history of the “old” Federal Republic and the German reunification process from the spatial perspective of the West German borderlands.

West Germany and the Iron Curtain was honored with the 2020 DAAD/GSA Book Prize for the Best Book in History or Social Sciences; the 2020 Smith Award by the European History Section of the Southern Historical Association for the best book published in European history by a faculty member of a Southern College or University.  And the 2019 Hans Rosenberg Book Prize, awarded by the Central European History Society of the AHA to the best book in the field published by a North American resident in 2019. A German edition came out with Ch. Links publisher (Zonenrandgebiet. Westdeutschland und der Eiserne Vorhang, 2022).

I am currently working on two projects in environmental history: one engages German climate diplomacy in the early 1990s; the other addresses the history of the national park program of the late German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) with a focus on nature conservation during the transformation years after 1990.


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


  • Modern German history
  • Modern European history
  • Environmental History
  • Borderlands 

Current Graduate Students

I welcome honors student projects on any aspect of twentieth-century Central European and German history. If you are considering applying for graduate work at Emory, I recommend that you get in touch well before the application deadline. Establishing contact early allows us to explore the fit of our mutual academic interests and gives me the opportunity to pass along information about our graduate program and graduate training more generally. 

Recently-Appointed Doctoral Graduates

  • Julia López Fuentes (National Cathedral School, Washington, D.C.)
  • Sean A. Wempe (California State University - Bakersfield)
  • Stefanie M. Woodard (Kennesaw State University)

Recent Publications by Doctoral Graduates

Photo Credit Above: Ines Grabner