Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech sounds an alarm about Soviet encroachments in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, reflecting a simultaneous change in U.S. foreign policy regarding relations with the Soviet Union.
Summary of Event
When Winston Churchill delivered his historic “Iron Curtain” speech, he uttered a phrase which may be considered the first rhetorical shot of the Cold War. The Soviet Union’s postwar posture was exposed, and the once-great ally of the West was portrayed as the arch-aggressor. The dramatic character of the speech is intensified when one recalls that the United States, fresh from victory, was sighing with profound relief; war-torn Western Europe was on the brink of total economic collapse; and Great Britain had recently rejected its great wartime prime minister, preferring instead Clement Attlee’s Labour Party with its bold democratic socialistic schemes.
The phrase “Iron Curtain” was first used by Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, but Churchill initially used it in a dispatch sent to President Harry Truman on May 12, 1945, exactly one month after President Franklin Roosevelt’s death. With the German defeat imminent, Churchill tried to persuade Truman to disregard the occupation zones arranged at the Quebec Conference in August of 1943, and to continue to hold firmly the Anglo-American positions in Yugoslavia, Austria,...
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