An Archaeology of the Iron Curtain: Material and Metaphor
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The Iron Curtain was seen as the divider between East and West in Cold War Europe. The term refers to a material reality but it is also a metaphor; a metaphor that has become so powerful that it tends to mark our historical understanding of the period. Through the archaeological study of two areas that can be considered part of the former Iron Curtain, the Czech-Austrian border and the Italian-Slovenian border, this research investigates the relationship between the material and the metaphor of the Iron Curtain. As a study of the archaeology of the contemporary past this thesis brings forward methodological issues when dealing with many different sources as well as general reflections on our historical understanding.
cut off from the surrounding landscape by high concrete walls on both sides making it impossible to divert at any point until inside Slovenian territory. The purpose of this corridor is to get people from one side to the other with no distractions. The high walls on the side allows no views into the surrounding landscape but channels sight as well as movement straight ahead through the corridor to Slovenian territory on the other side. No stopping is allowed. This whole section of road is, in
this graffiti survives today although is now uncommon as houses have been torn down or refurbished (Figure 46). Ethnologist Jonas Frykman has recorded similar messages in today’s Croatia (Frykman 2007:91). Pictures found in the Goriški Musej Archives also demonstrate that political messages were also written on the roofs of buildings (Figure 47). Figure 46: Writing displaying affiliations with Yugoslavia still visible on building in 2011. Writing on the front of the building stating: ‘This is
contact with former border guards on the Army Forum website and subsequently shared his experiences with me. He was a border guard between 1972 and 1974. He remembers: “A military train left the station in Presov [Slovakia] 141 AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE IRON CURTAIN on the 1st of October in the evening. The station was full of soldiers to be, all saying goodbye to their family and friends. The train took off and stopped in several places along the way letting soldiers on and off. My destination,
across it still remain, even though its maintenance has a different goal today, when sustainability and protection of rare species are of more importance than pure aesthetics. The monument, Felicia’s well, is one of the monuments that survive from the earlier designed park (Figure 61). It was placed here in what is called Felicia’s Valley by count Stanislav Mnizek as a memorial for his mother Countess Felicia in 1806. The white memorial built in neo-classicist style stands out against the green
as a nursery to cultivate trees before they are planted in the park itself. In the early 20th century a game lodge belonging to the Vranov Castle Park existed in the same location (Anderle and Schmidt 2002:22). The name of the border guard station ‘Hájenka’, meaning lodge, also reflects this. The border guard compound has been redeveloped and rebuilt during its period of use with the earliest building dating from 1956 (building 4). The buildings varied depending on how many soldiers it needed to