About the Project

My name is Kate Trenerry and I am a junior History and Cinema & Media Studies double major at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I recently received the Edward H. “Ted” Mullin ’06 Memorial Fellowship Prize through the History department at Carleton.

With this generous funding, I will be traveling to Europe to bike a section of the Iron Curtain Trail, from Travemünde, Germany to the Danube River. A recent EU initiative, the Iron Curtain Trail runs along the former border between the Soviet bloc and Western Europe. The section I will travel is 1,600 miles and encompasses the majority of museums, historical markers, and remnants of the fences, watchtowers, and checkpoints that dotted the landscape for more than 40 years. Through photography, mapping, and conversation, I will explore the region’s past and present. I am particularly interested in sister cities separated by the border, collecting oral interviews from people who live along the border, and documenting physical remnants of the border.

This project was designed to reflect my academic interests in History and Cinema & Media Studies, as well as my background in athletics through soccer and ultimate frisbee. As a historian, I hope that conducting original research to compare and discover localized effects of the Iron Curtain will improve my own understanding of the Cold War, while the experience of meeting and talking with my subjects of study will be a unique opportunity to gain a close understanding of the region. I am also eager to incorporate my background in Cinema & Media Studies into this project. Visual comparison through photography will be a key part of my study. I plan to create a multi-media map using MemoryMiner software that will draw on concepts from psychogeography and mapping and allow followers to discover the trail as I do by updating frequently on the road.

When I have completed this 1,600-mile section of the trail, I expect that I will have gained an intimate understanding of the immensity of the Iron Curtain and an idea of what it meant, and still means to have lived in its shadow. As a member of a generation that grew up without the Cold War, I hope that completing this symbolic journey will help me connect with those who came before me and lived the history of divided Europe.  Perhaps my comparative look at the region can be a small part of bridging the divide that so harshly separated a country and a continent.

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