Review: Eckert, West Germany and the Iron Curtain

Monograph reviewed for German History in Volume 39, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages 330–332. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghab008

Summary: West Germany and the Iron Curtain is an ambitious re-examination of German history from its literal margins. Eckert’s methodologically innovative analysis not only straddles the East-West divide but interrogates 1945 and 1989/90 as chronological caesuras. Refracted through the environmental history of these borderlands, Germany’s political, social, and cultural history looks familiar but also different: Cold War border pilgrimages resemble their interwar predecessors, East Germany’s devastating pollution looks less like an exception than like the rule, and the apparent successes of unification are shown to be both ambiguous and highly contingent. Written with nuance, perspicacity, and subtle humour, West Germany and the Iron Curtain masterfully re-evaluates the history of twentieth-century Germany.