What was the Iron Curtain?

The "Iron Curtain" is a boundary which divided Europe into two separate zones, symbolically, politically and physically .This began at the end of World War II and continued until the end of the Cold War, i.e. from about 1945 to 1990. With the Iron Curtain in place, some of the Eastern and Central European countries were under the political influence of the Soviet Union. Exceptions were West Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria.

The term "Iron Curtain" was originally used during World War II by German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and later Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk towards the end of the war. It was popularised by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who first used it in his "Sinews of Peace" address at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on 5 March 1946, during which he stated:

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an "iron curtain" has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow."