An Iron Curtain
Late in his first year as president, Harry Truman asks England's great wartime leader, Winston Churchill, if he will speak at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri . It is a tiny school, but Churchill is eager to do it. He has something to say and he knows the world will be listening. During the World War, the Soviet Union was the ally of Britain and the United States. No people fought harder or suffered more losses than the Soviets. After the war, the U.S.S.R. and the United States were left as the world's only two superpowers. Now in 1946 everyone hopes for friendship between them. If Russia wants Communism, why that seems all right to many Britains and Americans. But not to Winston Churchill. That's what he wants to talk about in Missouri . In his speech he says: "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." That iron curtain is Communism, and it is blocking out truth and freedom . Nations behind that curtain have become prisoners of the Soviets.
When World War II ended, the armies of the winning Allied powersthe U.S., the U.S.S.R. and Britainmoved through Europe, freeing the nations that had been conquered by Adolf Hitler. The Allies promised to help the liberated countries to hold elections, and form free governments. After that, they were supposed to leave. But Russia wouldn't go. Soviet armies stayed in control of almost all of Eastern Europe, and made it clear they intended further conquests . President Truman, among others, has been convinced by Churchill's message. He says, "the threat of world conquest by Soviet Russia endangers our liberty and endangers the kind of world in which the free spirit of men can survive.... The Soviet rulers have made it clear that we must have strength as well as right on our side."