Churchill’s Iron Curtain Speech 

US #1264 was issued in Fulton, Missouri, the site of this speech.  Click image to order.

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill gave one of his most famous speeches, in which he used the phrase, “iron curtain” to describe the communist boundary in Europe.

As much of the world celebrated the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945, Churchill grew concerned about the Soviet Union’s growing influence and resolved that we must “impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire.”  That July, he lost his bid for re-election as prime minister but was already working with the king on a new national government.

Canada #440 was issued eight months after Churchill’s death in 1965. Click image to order.

Churchill then served as the leader of the opposition, a role that still made him a major influence in world affairs.  In this role, he visited the United States in 1946 and was invited to deliver a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5.

US #1862 from the Great Americans series. Click image to order.

Joined on stage by President Harry Truman, Churchill began his “Sinews of Peace” speech by thanking and praising the United States.  He then promoted his belief that the US and Britain develop an even closer relationship to help police the postwar world.  Churchill then issued a warning against the Soviet Union’s expansion and compared it to Adolph Hitler’s rise before World War II.  He went on to warn that 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.”

Also during this speech, Churchill used the phrase “iron curtain” when he said, “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.”

US #1264 FDC – 1965 Churchill First Day Cover. Click image to order.

Truman and the other people present applauded Churchill’s speech, and soon the phrase “iron curtain” became widespread.  However, some US leaders opposed his idea of a closer relationship, as they believed Britain’s power was declining and didn’t want to have to support them.  Additionally, Joseph Stalin called the speech “warmongering” and Churchill’s points about the “English-speaking world” as imperialist racism.  Though the Russians had been Britain’s and America’s allies against Hitler just a year prior, they were now preparing for the Cold War.  In fact, some Russian historians point to this speech as the start of the war.

Click here to read or listen to the full speech.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
5/5 - (1 vote)
Share this Article


  1. Churchill, as he had done early on with Hitler, put the world on notice who was a threat to world peace. A strong voice of reason that served not only Great Britain well but mankind.

  2. The greatest statesman in modern history. This man and UK,Canada,Australia and New Zealand stood up to Hitler in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War.

  3. And General Patton also did not “trust” Russia. He spoke numerous times of what their goals were and how they should be dealt with early on. None of this was hindsight.

  4. Churchill also visited Cuba. It’s interesting that Stalin would refer to his speech about the English-speaking world as “imperialist racism”. Also, Mr Brian mentions:UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. All predominantly
    English-Speaking nations. I would change the “imperialist racism” to “linguistic racism” I may also mention that the countries mentioned, are believed to be the “Lost Tribes of Israel” But that’s for another article, and comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *