The Danube has been for two centuries the great connecting link between the European West and the European East. Most commercial and cultural exchanges between the two parts of Europe took place with the help of or along the Danube. The West involved was, above all, southern Germany and the cisbithynian part of the Habsburg monarchy. The East was the formerly Turkish ruled territories, the Balkan peninsula and the Black Sea. The latter was, for the last two centuries, the center of conflict between Russian and Turkish hegemo nial aspirations. The events of the Balkan wars and of World War I almost ex tinguished Turkish influence, an event long expected: The outcome of World War I fortified, to an unexpected degree, the influence of Russia, which now became almost synonymous with the term of the European East. For a few years the middle and lower Danube threaten ed to disappear behind the Iron Curtain which marked the extent of Eastern influence.