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West Germany and the Iron CurtainEnvironment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands$
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Astrid M. Eckert

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190690052

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190690052.001.0001

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The Making of the West German Borderlands, 1945–1955

The Making of the West German Borderlands, 1945–1955

1 The Making of the West German Borderlands, 1945–1955
West Germany and the Iron Curtain

Astrid M. Eckert

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the economic consequences of the early inter-German border and introduces the economic heterogeneity of the borderlands through snapshots of four localities along the demarcation line. As the tightening demarcation made itself felt, a coalition of borderland advocates pressured the federal government to help prevent their regions from turning into economic backwaters. These lobbying efforts revealed that borderland residents cared less about living in the shadow of the Iron Curtain than about living in the shadow of the “economic miracle” to their west. In their pitch for state aid, borderland advocates declared their regions to be economically, socially, and politically more vulnerable as a result of the Cold War than regions that had “merely” been damaged by the recent war. Their efforts yielded the “zonal borderland aid” program that soon became an integral part of the border regions’ economic and cultural life.

Keywords:   early Cold War, smuggling, barter trade, currency reform, Soviet blockade, “economic miracle, ” West German anti-Communism, borderland formation

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