Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain

Paperback | January 21, 2014

byEdith Sheffer

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The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 shocked the world. Ever since, the image of this impenetrable barrier between East and West, imposed by communism, has been a central symbol of the Cold War.Based on vast research in untapped archival, oral, and private sources, Burned Bridge reveals the hidden origins of the Iron Curtain, presenting it in a startling new light. Historian Edith Sheffer's unprecedented, in-depth account focuses on Burned Bridge - the intersection between two sistercities, Sonneberg and Neustadt bei Coburg, Germany's largest divided population outside Berlin. Sheffer demonstrates that as Soviet and American forces occupied each city after the Second World War, townspeople who historically had much in common quickly formed opposing interests and identities. The border walled off irreconcilable realities: the differences of freedom and captivity, rich and poor, peace and bloodshed, and past and present. Sheffer describes how smuggling, kidnapping, rape, and killing in the early postwar years led citizens to demand greater border control on both sides -long before East Germany fortified its 1,393 kilometer border with West Germany. It was in fact the American military that built the first barriers at Burned Bridge, which preceded East Germany's borderland crackdown by many years. Indeed, Sheffer shows that the physical border between East and Westwas not simply imposed by Cold War superpowers, but was in some part an improvised outgrowth of an anxious postwar society.Ultimately, a wall of the mind shaped the wall on the ground. East and West Germans became part of, and helped perpetuate, the barriers that divided them. From the end of World War II through two decades of reunification, Sheffer traces divisions at Burned Bridge with sharp insight and compassion,presenting a stunning portrait of the Cold War on a human scale.

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From the Publisher

The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 shocked the world. Ever since, the image of this impenetrable barrier between East and West, imposed by communism, has been a central symbol of the Cold War.Based on vast research in untapped archival, oral, and private sources, Burned Bridge reveals the hidden origins of the Iron Curtain, presen...

Edith Sheffer is Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University.

other books by Edith Sheffer

Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:January 21, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199314616

ISBN - 13:9780199314614

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Table of Contents

Peter Schneider: ForewordIntroducitonPart One: Demarcation Line, 1945-19521. Foundations: Burned Bridge2. Insecurity: Border Mayhem3. Inequality: Economic Divides4. Kickoff: Political SkirmishingPart Two: "Living Wall," 1952-19615. Shock: Border Closure and Deportation6. Shift: Everyday Boundaries7. Surveillance: Individual ControlsPart Three: Iron Curtain, 1961-19898. Home: Life in the Prohibited Zone9. Fault Line: Life in the Fortifications10. Disconnect: East-West RelationsEpilogue: New DividesNotesBibliographyAppendices