Black Market, Cold War: Everyday Life in Berlin 1946-1949

Black Market, Cold War: Everyday Life in Berlin 1946-1949

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Paul Steege
Cambridge University Press, 5/31/2007
EAN 9780521864961, ISBN10: 0521864968

Hardcover, 374 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
Language: English

This book explains how and why Berlin became the symbolic capital of the Cold War. It brings the history of the Cold War down to earth by focusing on the messy accounts of daily struggles to survive rather than seamless narratives of diplomatic exchange. By following Berliners as they made their way from ration offices to the black markets, from allied occupation bureaus to the physical and symbolic battles for the city's streets and squares, Paul Steege anchors his account of this emerging global conflict in the fractured terrain of a city literally shattered by World War II. In this history of everyday life, he claims for Berliners a vital role in making possible Berlin's iconic Cold War status. The world saw an absolutely divided city, but everyday Berliners crossed its many boundaries, and these transgressive practices brought into focus the stark oppositions of the Cold War.

1. Postwar Berlin
the continuities of scarcity
2. October 1946
rolling back Soviet power
3. June 1947
Berlin politics in the shadow of the black market
4. March 1948
Berlin and the struggle for the Soviet Zone
5. August 1948
battle lines on the Potsdamer Platz
6. June 1949
ending the blockade.

"In this ambitiously conceived and passionately written account of Berlin at the start of the Cold War, Paul Steege provides compelling vindication for the claims of Alltagsgeschichte or the history of everyday life. In addition to the Cold War itself, he illuminates many vital aspects of German history immediately after, including the social history of urban survival, the histories of East German Communism and West German Social Democracy, and the overall dynamics of political reconstruction. He is to be applauded for a brave and original attempt at re-conceptualizing the relationship between grand politics and ordinary experience." -Geoffrey Eley, University of Michigan "While Steege may not have entirely found the real Cold War in the streets of Berlin, he has certainly found part of it there. Quite literally, human agency was all over this place, in its cellars and in its skies, as well as in distant capitals. This highly stimulating and original book will spark further reflection on how to assess the balance, and its significance." -Noel D. Cary, Central European History "This well-written book uses an increasingly popular historical approach that moves beyond Alltagsgeschichte to blend bottom-up with top-down history. Paul Steege set out to capture the reality of day-to-day life as Berliners would have experienced it during the dramatic years from the first local cold war clashes to the end of the Berlin Blockade. [...]this book will be welcomed as a nicely integrated, well-presented overall story, illustrated with over a dozen photographs." -Diethelm Prowe, Carleton College, The International History Review "Steege has single-handedly re-conceptualised the origins of the Cold War and may well have broken historians out of the revisionist/post-revisionist intellectual framework that still informs much of Cold War history. A phrase that is used far too frequently is, in this instance, no exaggeration: This is a book that must be read." -Gary Bruce, English Historical Review "By focusing on the local origins of a global conflict, this book offers an alternative interpretation of the unfolding of the Cold War. It should be essential reading for anybody interested in the everyday social realities of the Cold War." -Frank Biess, American Historical Review "...highly stimulating and original..." -Noel D. Cary, Central European History "The book excels in its attention to detail." -Petra Goedde, Diplomatic History "...an impressive work..." -Jens Gieseke, H-German