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The Iron Curtain is a term that received prominence after Winston Churchill’s speech in which he said that an “iron curtain has descended” across Europe. He was referring to the boundary line that divided Europe in two different political areas: Western Europe had political freedom, while Eastern Europe was under communist Soviet rule. The term also symbolized the way in which the Soviet Union blocked its territories from open contact with the West.

iron curtain

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Military Alliances:

Two economic and international alliances existed on both sides of the Iron Curtain: On the Soviet Union’s side were the countries that made the Warsaw Pact and were members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and on the U.S. side were the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Community.

End of the Iron Curtain

Although it seemed as if the Iron Curtain’s restrictions were a bit relaxed after Stalin died in 1953, the Berlin Wall’s construction reinforced them in 1961. It was only in 1991 when the Cold War ended and the one party communist rule in Eastern Europe was abandoned that the Curtain ceased to exist.

According to worldatlas.com, the symbolic fall of the Iron Curtain came on November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall dividing communist East Berlin from West Berlin was pulled down. The fall of the Berlin Wall, however, was preceded by many other developments that led to the fall of the Curtain.

Brittanica.com went on to report that following the end of the Iron Curtain, Gorbachev’s internal reforms had meanwhile weakened his own Communist Party and allowed power to shift to Russia and the other constituent republics of the Soviet Union. In late 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed and 15 newly independent nations were born from its corpse, including a Russia with a democratically elected, anticommunist leader. The Cold War had come to an end.

This article is part of our larger selection of posts about the Cold War. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to the Cold War.

Cite This Article
"What Was the Iron Curtain and How Did It Collapse?" History on the Net
© 2000-2024, Salem Media.
July 14, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/what-was-the-iron-curtain>
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