Curtain “The Origin of the Iron Curtain: Understanding the Cold War’s History

Curtain Origin

What is the Iron Curtain?

The Iron Curtain is a metaphorical phrase used to describe the physical, political, and ideological barrier created by the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. This barrier represented the political and ideological divisions between the Western and Eastern blocs, specifically the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union.

History of the Iron Curtain

The origin of the Iron Curtain can be traced back to 1945 and the year following the conclusion of World War II. The Soviet Union, led by Stalin, had adopted a foreign policy known as “Socialism in one country” in order to thwart any possible concessions to the West. As a result, attempts at democratic reform in the Soviet Union were blocked and the Cold War began to develop.

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In 1947, the United States adopted the Marshall Plan, which provided aid to the economic rebuilding of Europe. This, along with the Truman Doctrine, led to a further divide between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and marked a sharp change in Soviet foreign policy. This culminated in the Soviet Union, along with its Eastern European allies, to form the COMECON “Eastern Bloc”. This bloc formed the physical portion of the Iron Curtain.

Impact of the Iron Curtain on Europe

The Iron Curtain had a profound impact on Europe and its political landscape. In the Eastern Bloc, states were ruled by oppressive, authoritarian governments that were backed by the Soviet Union and were largely resistant to any kind of democratic reform. This meant that human rights abuses were rampant in these nations, as were censorship and any kind of restrictions on freedom of expression.

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At the same time, the Western countries of Europe enjoyed the benefits of the Marshall Plan, which saw the standard of living rise in the region and saw the political landscape evolve towards democracy. The Iron Curtain marked a stark divide between the prosperous West and the economically deprived East.

Impact on Health

The Iron Curtain had a significant effect on the health of Europeans. In the Soviet Union and its satellite states, the health care system was poor and there were dramatic levels of poverty. This created a public health crisis of sorts, with shortages of basic medical supplies, malnutrition and increased communicable diseases, as well as poverty-related illnesses and diseases.

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In Western Europe, the situation was far better. Economic prosperity, foreign investment, and improved access to basic healthcare meant that health outcomes in the West were far superior to those in the East.


The Iron Curtain had a dramatic and lasting effect on the political and economic landscape of Europe. On the one hand, the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc enjoyed very little in the way of political freedom, while the nations of the West enjoyed economic prosperity. This had a significant effect on the health of Europeans, with the East suffering much more in terms of nutrition, communicable diseases, and poverty-related illnesses and diseases. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, as well as a new era for European politics and prosperity.

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