70th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Cold War
Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech
– Dougal MacDonald –
On March 5, 1946, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill delivered what has become known as his “Iron Curtain” speech (officially titled “The Sinews of Peace”) at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in the presence of U.S. President Harry Truman and an estimated audience of about 40,000. After some preliminary remarks, the speech revealed its main purpose which was to attack the Soviet Union. Churchill declared, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” The phrase “iron curtain” became part of the popular lexicon and in subsequent years was used over and over by the British and U.S. to demonize the Soviet Union and attack its revolutionary leadership.
Churchill’s speech is often said to have signaled the official beginning of the Cold War, however, both Britain and the U.S. had been conspiring and maneuvering against the Soviet Union long before the end of the Second World War. British aristocrats such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor supported Hitler. U.S. corporations such as Dupont funded domestic fascist groups while other monopolies secretly aided the Hitlerites throughout the entire war. For example, through their European branches, both Ford and General Motors supplied the German military with vehicles. ITT Corporation controlled German fighter jet manufacturer Focke Wulfe. IBM helped more efficiently organize prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps; the infamous camp tattoos began as IBM numbers.
In his speech, Churchill called for Britain to form an even closer “special relationship” with the United States against the Soviet Union, the former wartime ally of the two countries against. Britain was in decline with its former empire slipping away and its position as “leader of the Western world” being taken over by the United States, which had emerged from the war virtually unscathed and more powerful than ever before. Churchill’s speech proposed that opposing the Nazis, old and new, should no longer be the issue for Britain and the U.S. but that henceforth their united political and military opposition should be solely directed against Soviet Union, the very country which had contributed the most to defeating the Nazis and at by far the greatest cost. In fact, both countries were already welcoming with open arms former Nazis who they thought could prove useful in executing their post-war plans.
Churchill did not invent the phrase “iron curtain,” which he had used in several previous anti-Soviet communications with Truman, but had actually borrowed it from the Hitlerite Nazis. The phrase was first used to attack the Soviet Union by Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels. On February 5th, 1945, Goebbels wrote in Das Reich, his newsweekly, that “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.” In fact, the entire anti-Soviet content of Churchill’s speech could easily have been taken from one of Goebbels’ own wartime diatribes against the Soviet Union.
In addition to ranting about the “iron curtain,” Churchill also spoke wildly of “communist parties or fifth columns” which he claimed constituted a “growing challenge and peril to Christian civilization.” Drawing false parallels with the appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, Churchill openly advocated for a military buildup against the Soviet Union by suggesting that in dealing with the Soviets there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.” In response, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin rightly denounced the speech as “warmongering,” and condemned Churchill’s pious references to the “English-speaking peoples” as imperialist racism. Stalin defended Soviet friendship with eastern European states, which the Red Army had helped to liberate from Nazi rule, as a necessary safeguard against another invasion. He rightfully accused Churchill of trying to install anti-Soviet governments in eastern Europe.
The Soviet Union played a huge role in the liberation of the peoples of the world from Nazi rule. Its assistance to the wars of national liberation in Europe and Asia distanced it from its former allies, the U.S. and Britain which wanted to continue to pursue their aim of trying to decide the fate of the entire world. To justify their abandonment of the cause for which the peoples had sacrificed so much, the two countries launched the Cold War and built inter-state, anti-Soviet imperialist blocs such as NATO. They portrayed Soviet support for anti-fascist national liberation wars and for anti-colonial struggles and for the working class movement for emancipation as a communist conspiracy to take over the entire world, calling for “containment of communism” and then “rolling back” communism. They adopted the disinformation methods pioneered by Goebbels and the Hitlerites during the war to justify the crimes they started committing against the peoples of the world in the post-war period, for example, the slaughter of the Greek revolutionaries and the aggression against Korea.
Today, while the Cold War “officially” ended in 1991 with the “fall” of the Soviet Union, the U.S., Britain, Canada, and other countries still pursue the Cold War legacy. The U.S. and its minions continue to try to demonize Russia, blaming it for every problem in the world. Canada is still a member of NATO, which is a Cold War relic. Instead of pursuing independent policies which serve the interest of the Canadian people, the Canadian ruling circles still follow the dictate of the U.S., attempting to mobilize people to take up the geopolitical outlook of the big powers. Internally, the Trudeau government continues to pursues Harper’s blatantly anti-communist projects such as the much-discredited Memorial to the Victims of Communism and the fascist Black Ribbon Day which tries to equate communism with Nazism. But the people of Canada and the world are not fooled by such attempts to keep alive the stinking corpse of Churchill and Goebbels’ so-called iron curtain. They know who are the real enemies of the people and they are opposing them through continuing acts of resistance across the globe.