Read the following Primary Source Document and answer the analysis questions that follow. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union began to set up Communist Pro-Soviet governments in Eastern Europe. With its troops already in place there was little opposition to the forced Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. The United States and Great Britain, financially and militarily exhausted from World War II, protested but could take little action to prevent the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. Winston S. Churchill was no longer British Prime Minister on March 5, 1946, when he made his frank ” iron curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri. While attracted to his candid anti-Soviet language, some critics pointed out that in condemning Russia for its influence in Eastern Europe, Churchill ignored British predominance in Greece and the empire. For some observers, Truman’s presence on the platform signified American endorsement of Churchill’s remarks.
“The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn moment for the American democracy. With primacy in power is also joined an awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you feel not only the sense of duty done but also feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of achievement. … It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of decision shall guide and rule the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they did in war. We must and I believe we shall prove ourselves equal to this severe requirement…
A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory. Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies. I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime comrade, Marshal Stalin… It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe.
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 the Soviet sphere and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and increasing measure of control from Moscow.
[In] a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center.
Last time I saw it all coming, and cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind.
We surely must not let that happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United Nations and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the world instrument, supported by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its connections” ~ Winston S. Churchill, The Iron Curtain Speech, Fulton, Missouri 1945
Primary Source Document Questions:
- What is the main idea contained within this document?
- What is going on in the country/world when this document was written?
- Is this document a reliable source? Why or why not? (Is there bias?)
- Who said this? When did they say it?
- What are 2 facts that you have learned in class or on your own that you can connect to this document?
- How does this primary source contribute to our understanding of the time frame and/or history?