Cold War Tourism

Travelling across the Iron Curtain

After a period of further separation and isolation, the GDR government changed its policy regarding visits from and to the West. In the wake of the Quadripartite Agreement, the Basic Treaty and the Transit Agreement, the inner-German border became increasingly traversable. During the 1970s and 1980s, the GDR border control recorded over 6 million annual visits from West Berlin, West Germany and other non-socialist countries. At the same time, the number of East Germans visiting the West increased to a surprising extent: in 1976, about 2.8 million trips were permitted. Within the next decade, this number doubled.

Based on several case studies, this project examines the increasing porosity of the Iron Curtain by focusing on cross-border tourism between East and West Germany. Considering the concurrence of outward integration and internal erosion, it analyses why the SED regime started to open its borders more and more, and how it nevertheless tried to prevent or at least maintain control over personal contacts between its citizens and visitors. In addition, it aims to explore people’s attempts to circumvent official regulations and secret surveillance. By analysing personal encounters between East and West Germans during the Cold War, the project also intends to scrutinise historic images of ‘the other’ and their long-term impact beyond the historical break of 1989.

Dr. Stefanie Eisenhuth

Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

Office: Am Neuen Markt 1, room 0.30
Phone.: 0331/28991-31
Fax: 0331/28991-40

Email: eisenhuth [at] zzf-potsdam.de

Forschung

Cold War Tourism

Travelling across the Iron Curtain

After a period of further separation and isolation, the GDR government changed its policy regarding visits from and to the West. In the wake of the Quadripartite Agreement, the Basic Treaty and the Transit Agreement, the inner-German border became increasingly traversable. During the 1970s and 1980s, the GDR border control recorded over 6 million annual visits from West Berlin, West Germany and other non-socialist countries. At the same time, the number of East Germans visiting the West increased to a surprising extent: in 1976, about 2.8 million trips were permitted. Within the next decade, this number doubled.

Based on several case studies, this project examines the increasing porosity of the Iron Curtain by focusing on cross-border tourism between East and West Germany. Considering the concurrence of outward integration and internal erosion, it analyses why the SED regime started to open its borders more and more, and how it nevertheless tried to prevent or at least maintain control over personal contacts between its citizens and visitors. In addition, it aims to explore people’s attempts to circumvent official regulations and secret surveillance. By analysing personal encounters between East and West Germans during the Cold War, the project also intends to scrutinise historic images of ‘the other’ and their long-term impact beyond the historical break of 1989.

Dr. Stefanie Eisenhuth

Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam

Office: Am Neuen Markt 1, room 0.30
Phone.: 0331/28991-31
Fax: 0331/28991-40

Email: eisenhuth [at] zzf-potsdam.de

Forschung