Why Stalin Built The Iron Curtain
The Iron Curtain was the term used in the West to refer to the
boundary line, which divided Europe into to separate areas of
political influence. This was set up from the end of World War Two
until the end of the Cold War. During this period, Eastern Europe was
under control and influence of the Soviet Union (USSR,) where as
Western Europe enjoyed freedom. It was a border set up by Joseph
Stalin, the ruler of the USSR in the years after the Second World War.
The term the "Iron Curtain," was first introduced in Winston
Churchill's long speech, "an Iron curtain has descended across the
continent," on March 5th, 1946. Churchill's speech triggered Stalin to
tighten the Iron Curtain.
Stalin had various reasons for setting up the Iron Curtain. He assumed
he had the right to control Eastern Europe, and that the West would
control Western Europe. This is why he set up the boundary in the
During 1944 the Allies (Britain, USA and USSR) got on fairly well with
each other. Yet there was still a lot of distrust, both sides were so
completely different. The USA believed that the Soviets wanted to
expand communism across the globe. They were concerned that having
beaten Germany, they were now going to get a new dictatorship.
In 1945, Stalin was anxious to build a buffer zone, against any more
German invasions. Stalin did not trust the West, Britain and USA
because he remembered they had invaded Russia in 1919 and had ignored
Stalin's appeal for a second front. Stalin was convinced they wanted
the USSR to destroy itself when fighting with Germany.
At the end of the war, the Allies met at Yalta and later Potsdam.
Although there was an agreement that Germany and Berlin would be
divided into four zones and they would take joint actions, however
disagreement soon broke out at Potsdam.
Roosevelt and Stalin had got on well but at Potsdam the new USA
leader, President Harry Truman had adopted a policy of "get tough" on
Stalin and Russia. Disagreements had taken place over a range of
issues. The USSR did not keep its promise about holding free elections
in Eastern Europe. The USA also dropped the atom bomb on Japan without
consulting the USSR. Stalin was very irritated that Truman did not
tell the USSR about the atomic bomb until the last minute. This
created a belief in the USSR that the bombs had been dropped as a
warning to the Russians.
In 1946, Britain and the USA agreed to unite their zones in Germany