History Brief: What was the Iron Curtain?


The phrase Iron Curtain is frequently used
in relation to the Cold War era. What exactly does this phrase mean? Why was it used? In 1946, during a speech to Westminster College
in Fulton, Missouri, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used the phrase “Iron
Curtain” to describe the divide between Western and Eastern Europe following the end
of WWII. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in
the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” The nations of Eastern Europe were communist
dictatorships with little personal freedom granted to their citizens. People were not allowed to travel freely,
and it was often difficult to get accurate information in and out of these nations. The concept of the Iron Curtain was best defined
by the rivalry between what came to be known as NATO and the Warsaw Pact states which operated
under Soviet influence. In 1949, the United States, along with the
United Kingdom, France, Canada, and eight other nations, signed a treaty creating the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also known as NATO. The member nations agreed that an armed attack
against any one of them would be viewed and treated as an armed attack against all of
them. Therefore, the members pledged that if one
nation was attacked by the Soviet Union, or another communist state, that the other member
nations would retaliate in an appropriate manner. Several years later, in 1955, the Eastern
European nations created the Warsaw Pact. Led by the Soviet Union, eight communist nations
(including East Germany, Poland, Romania, and several others) established a mutual defense
treaty. Although the nations of NATO never fought
an actual war against the Warsaw Pact nations, the feud between the rival factions persisted
for 36 years in the form of the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact officially disbanded in 1991
with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

5 comments

Hi, thanks for your video! There's one mistake though; in 1946 Churchill was not the Prime Minister. It was Atlee! Churchill was in the US as an international statesman representing the UK. 🙂

I survived escaping Communism and crossing the Iron Curtain in 1986. Feel free to check out my link: extremezipliner.com

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