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Ron Kurtz reveals, Sunday, June 27, 2002, Churchill's unlikely source for the historic phrase 'Iron Curtain'
Churchill's unlikely source for the historic phrase "Iron Curtain"
YOU may have discussed this already in your writings, but I have just read an article by Dr. Joseph Goebbels ('Das Jahr 2000,' Das Reich, February 25, 1945, pp. 1-2) that includes the following passage:
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.
(Source: German Propaganda Archive of Calvin College).
Like everyone else, I have always believed that Winston Churchill coined the phrase 'Iron Curtain' in a speech after the war. It was rather startling to see Dr. Goebbels use the phrase several years earlier (assuming the translation is correct), and with precisely the same meaning (representing the westernmost boundary of Soviet domination).
Have I stumbled onto something significant here, or is this just one of the many cases in which public credit for a phrase or writing is attached to the wrong author (for instance, many of the livelier phrases and stories attributed to Mr. Churchill were actually originated by Dr. Samuel Johnson and recorded in Boswell's biography)?
Los Angeles, CA
David Irving comments:
YOU are quite right. Among the BBC monitoring items brought to Churchill in the first days of March 1945 was the text of the latest leader article in Das Reich by Dr Joseph Goebbels. He used the phrase ein eiserner Vorhang.
The BBC daily monitoring report featured the latest Goebbels leader article, as soon as it came over the wires. The Völkischer Beobachter shortly used the same phrase in its main front-page headline, which read, I seem to remember, AN IRON CURTAIN IS FALLING ACROSS EUROPE.
I remember being shocked when I saw this headline in a bound volume of the VB at the Wiener Library in London in 1961, when I was researching my book on the February 1945 air raids on Dresden. Count Schwerin von Krosigk also used the phrase, "an Iron Curtain," in his broadcast on May 2, 1945 (quoted by The Times the next day.) Churchill then resuscitated the phrase in his famous speech at Fulton, Missouri, in March 1946. Needless to say he did not reveal his source.