Home  »  Respectfully Quoted  »  Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965)

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965)
QUOTATION: A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory…. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.
ATTRIBUTION: WINSTON CHURCHILL, “The Sinews of Peace,” address at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946.—Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James, vol. 7, p. 7290 (1974).

The term “iron curtain” was used in this sense as early as 1920, and Churchill had used it earlier in a telegram to President Harry Truman, May 12, 1945: “An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front. We do not know what is going on behind.”—Winston Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy (vol. 6 of The Second World War), p. 573 (1953). It was Churchill’s use of the term in this speech, however, which popularized it.

For earlier uses of the phrase see William Safire, Safire’s Political Dictionary, pp. 339–40 (1978), and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., p. 746, no. 9 (1980).

The same geographic area figures in No. 1654. See note at No. 394 about this speech.
SUBJECTS: Cold war