The Iron Curtain is a term used in the West to refer to the boundary line which divided Europe into two separate areas of political influence from the end of World War II until the end of the Cold War. During this period, Eastern Europe was under the political control and/or influence of the Soviet Union, while Western Europe enjoyed political freedom (see Free World). The term comes from a long speech by Winston Churchill on March 5, 1946 in Fulton, Missouri:
The phrase had been used a year earlier, in an article on "The Year 2000" by Joseph Goebbels:
"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 from Moscow."
"If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered."