Modern History Sourcebook:
Winston S. Churchill:
"Iron Curtain Speech", March 5, 1946
Winston Churchill gave this speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, after
receiving an honorary degree. With typical oratorical skills, Church introduced the
phrase "Iron Curtain"
to describe the division between Western powers and the area
controlled by the Soviet Union
. As such the speech marks
the onset (beginning) of the
The speech was very long, and here excerpts are presented.
The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle (highest) of world power.
It is a
solemn moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also
joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you
must feel not only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall
below the level of achievement.
Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both
our countries. To reject it or ignore
it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long
reproaches of the aftertime.
It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand
simplicity of decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking
peoples in peace as they did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves
equal to this severe requirement.
I have a strong admiration and
regard for the valiant (adventurous) Russian people
and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin
. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in
Britain -- and I doubt not here also -- toward the peoples of all the Russias and a
resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs (ignore) in establishing
It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in
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
The safety of the world
, ladies and gentlemen, requires
a unity in Europe
, from which
no nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent