Churchill.jpg (14959 bytes) Iron Curtain Speech - Winston Churchill

In the months after the end of world War II, the actions of the Soviet Union increasingly alarmed the leaders of the Western powers. In a speech delivered at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, Winston Churchill stressed the need for a policy of strength in dealing with the Soviet Union.

Click on Churchill to hear the full speech (includes introduction by Pres. Truman)

Churchill at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, 1946 Radio.jpg (1373 bytes) Click on Radio to hear the :17 second "Iron Curtain" portion


    A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory. Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expansive tendencies... We understand the Russian need to be secure on her western frontiers by the removal of all possibility of German aggression. We welcome Russia to her rightful place among the leading nations of the world. We welcome her flag upon the seas. Above all, we welcome constant, frequent, and growing contacts between the Russian people and our own people on both sides of the Atlantic. It is my duty however ... to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.

    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 of 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 many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.... The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern states of Europe, have been raised to preeminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, there is no true democracy....

    I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable; still more that it is imminent. It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now.... I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here today, while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement. What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

    From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness; especially military weakness. For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford ... to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength. If the Western democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, their influence furthering those principles will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. If however they become divided or falter in their duty and if these all-important years are allowed so slip away then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all.

Answer on a separate sheet

1. According to Churchill, what were the goals of the Soviet Union?

2. What specific policies did he suggest the Western powers follow to prevent another war?

3. How would Stalin react to this speech? Write a brief topic outline of Stalin's response.