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Iron Curtain - a synonym

At the end of the 1940s the "Iron Curtain" was erected and remained until the end of the 1980s, and became a part of the European map. Looking at it figuratively, the previously clear difference between system boundaries - i.e. the boundary between the allied forces across Europe - became visible on the maps of Europe.

Das geteilte Europa

Then-British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1946 said in his speech in Fulton, Missouri "... from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent ..." – this was when "Iron Curtain" as a the "key term in the vocabulary of the Cold War" was coined as a political metaphor.

So the term became a synonym for the splitting of the world into blocks in the sense of political, economic and military separation of state-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe after the end of World War II. At the same time, the term "Iron Curtain" (original name for a fire resistant and smoke-proof curtain in theater) is used for the description of technical frontier fortifications. After the "fall of the Iron Curtain" in 1989, the term was established as a synonym for border along the two political blocks in most European languages.

More than 40 years a heavily guarded border with barbed wire and minefields divided Europe into two impenetrable blocks. Separated by the Iron Curtain and dominated by diametrically opposed ideologies, the countries of Western and Eastern Europe developed in different directions. By participating in the Marshall Plan, Western states such as Germany or Austria experience a unique economic recovery, the so-called "economic miracle". Whilst in the eastern states there was no cash injection to boost the ailing economy. The economy of the Eastern European countries grew more slowly than it did in the countries of Western Europe. In the East, communist regimes prevailed, while democratic forms of government dominated in the West.

In the years 1989 and 1990 the Eastern European countries Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania managed to liberate themselves from the communist dictatorship. It is certainly remarkable that this system change in almost all cases happened in a non-violent way. The so-called "velvet revolution" of Czechoslovakia enhanced European integration and the enlargement of the European Union towards the East.