While their views ran parallel, Winston Churchill and President Ronald Reagan found themselves nearly alone in their view that communism was metaphysically flawed and that opposition to such regimes was paramount. However, after nearly 45 years of opposition to such communist regimes, their prediction to came to fruition as the world witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War era.
As you read in Week 2, Churchill geographically defined the Iron Curtain in his “Sinews of Peace” speech. He noted that the Iron Curtain was “erected” by the Soviet Union to close itself and certain eastern European allies from contact with the West.
“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” (Churchill, 1946).
While there were physical barriers later erected within areas of Soviet control, the Iron Curtain was not an actual physical barrier, contrary to some people’s misunderstanding. Instead, it was a move to form a political, ideological, and military barrier from the West and other non-communist nations post – World War II. While there is debate about how much impact President Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech had on the start of the collapse of Communism, many claim that it changed the world.
Imagine how hard life must have been for those under Soviet control who were effectively imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain. How must they have felt when they heard the news of President Reagan’s speech? Was their reaction joy and relief or was it fear of change? In this assignment, you will share your thoughts about what led to the fall of the Soviet Union and how people were affected by the changes.
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