What Was the Iron Curtain

‘Iron Curtain’, was the term used to refer to the ideological differences between the Eastern Europe and the western countries during the period of the cold war. The term though formed a part of literature in the early 20th century, was popularized by Winston Churchill in his speech in the year 1946, which gained popularity as the ‘Iron Curtain speech’. The countries on the eastern side of the iron curtain were of communist nature and were headed by Soviet Union, whereas the other side of the Iron curtain had democratic Governments. Iron curtain has also been used to refer to the physical boundaries between the two units of the world that differed greatly in their ideologies and approach towards administration.

The famous Berlin Wall was one among the main boundaries that depicted the seriousness of the Iron Curtain that divided Europe into two blocks. The countries on the eastern side were united by the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union decided terms for the rest of the countries that abided by the Warsaw Pact. This consisted of East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. It would be worth noting here that the only country from the east to stay out of this alliance was Yugoslavia, which had good relations with the western countries too.

The countries to the west of the Iron Curtain were bound by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and were supported by the Untied States of America. The main players here were Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Finland and West Germany. The bitterness between the countries was seen at all international platforms and in the form of proxy wars. There was opposition to each others’ policies and influences in all manners possible. The opposition to the Marshall’s plan by the countries of the eastern block is evidence to the ideological difference between the two sides of the Iron curtain. It would be worth mentioning here that the term, ‘Iron Curtain’, referred to the secrecy that was maintained in the events that happened on both sides; and the unavailability of any kind of information about each other’s activities.

The scenario continued till the end of the Cold war in 1991. The world feared a nuclear war owing to the tense situations between the two blocks. However, with the death of Stalin in 1953, the seriousness of the situation reduced. The increased popularity of democracy and the weakening influence of the Soviet Union in the world scenario led to the dissolution of the Iron curtain and destruction of all physical boundaries between the two blocks that served as the final blow to the Iron Curtain which divided Europe into two sections for almost half a century.

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