a. The term “Iron Curtain” - definition, origin and ambiguity
Of the many definitions of the term “Iron Curtain”, a typical one reads as follows:
“After World War II, communist governments were set up in Eastern Europe, based on the Soviet political model. From 1945 to 1990, military, political, and ideological barriers dramatically divided the Soviet bloc nationsfrom western Europe. This division was referred to as the "Iron Curtain".In August of 1961, the East German government built a wall between East and West Berlin to halt large numbers of defections and to prevent East Berliners commuting to the West. It was later extended along the entire border between East Germany and West Germany. The Berlin wall was one of the most visible signs of the cold warand has become a symbol of the Iron Curtain and totalitarianism.
The origin of the term “iron curtain” was borrowed by politicians and possibly their speech writers from multiple sources that have used the term before. It appears that even Babylonians have used the term, then Goebbels, also Churchill in two telegrams to Truman, before he used it in his famous Missouri speech to warn theWestern allies from Soviet communist threat.
The real meaning of an iron curtain is a fire protection curtain installed in theatres between the stage and the spectators. In recent history, the term “Iron Curtain” was used predominantly as a metaphor for the ideology-based, geographical separation designed by Stalin between East and West Europe.
Indeed, Stalin was a pragmatist and knew thatsovietised territories had to be sealed off from Western influence to avoid that conquered Eastern countries turn to the West.
Physically, the curtain took the form of defended electrical fences, walls, death corridors and other barriers, predominantly located in East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Crossing of the barriers at non-official control locations were extremely risky for peopletrying to exit or to enter Eastern Europe.
The term does not lack a certain amount of ambiguity: there is no real “curtain” that “fell” “across Europe” after the Second World War. There was no specific time when it happened, although the sum of specific historical events added up to the term “Iron Curtain”. For Stalin, it was a political necessity to prevent contamination of people from differentideological and political camps.
b. Structuring the reasons of the Iron Curtain
After screening some 20 texts related to the subject of the Iron Curtain, I came to the conclusion that the reason for the expression to come into existence cannot be traced to a single political event and point in time, such as Churchill´s Missouri speech, which many writers take as the startingpoint of the Iron Curtain.
For this purpose, I have borrowed from the field of business planning and management the interrelated terms of “visions” (considered as synonymous with “intent”), “strategies”, “tactics” and “operations”. This distinction facilitates the categorisation of the reasons for the curtain into “visionary/intent”, “strategic”, “tactical” and “operational”. It is theImportant in this categorisation is the identification of the real reason - the ultimo ratio, the political vision/intent of Stalin. All other reasons are dependent from this one reason.
c. Learning experience from the Iron Curtain
From the categorisation of the many reasons for the existence of the term “Iron Curtain”, I expect the ultimo ratio will provide current and future generations with alearning experience that helps to avoid making the same mistakes twice.
2. Reasons for the Iron Curtain
a. Reasons of vision & intent
For Stalin, who never kept his ideological goals out of sight, the political integration into the Soviet Empire of the East European countries that he conquered prior to 1945 was a key step to achieve his long-term communist vision and political intent....