Churchills ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech
The 5th of March 1946 AD
On March 5 1946 Winston Churchill , no longer Britain’s Prime Minister, was being given an honorary degree at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri. President Truman increased the honour by attending in person, introducing his wartime confederate to the students and academics present – and of course the press.
World War II was barely over, and the devastated people involved in the conflict were desperate for peace and recovery. But Churchill used the occasion to put forward his fears about the intentions of Stalin and the Soviet Union as regards the future of Europe. His memorable ‘iron curtain’ metaphor delivered in the line “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” hit home, although it was criticized by many very aware that the Nazis would probably have triumphed over Britain without the unimaginable sacrifice of the communist state.
Churchill’s fears were borne out. The Iron Curtain stopped the movement of people and ideas between the countries on either side of it. Stalin in effect imposed rule from Moscow over Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Poland and Hungary, with both Albania and Yugoslavia rather less dependent on the USSR but operating totalitarian communist regimes according to their own models and cults of personality. It would take nearly half a century for the curtain to lift.
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