This expression designates the defence system which was erected in Europe during the Cold War on the border separating the Western European states and the states of Eastern Europe, under Soviet influence. It most often took the form of electrified barbed wire, mine fields and watchtowers. The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 represents the apogee of the construction of this system. It was wanted by the authorities of Eastern countries to prevent the nationals of these countries fleeing to Western countries. The expression, ‘Iron Curtain,’ was popularised by Winston Churchill during a speech he gave on 5th March 1946 at Fulton (USA) when he said ‘an iron curtain has been built on the European continent from Stettin to Trieste.’
Following the reform movements which took place in the USSR, the Hungarian authorities decided, on 2nd May 1989, to open its border with Austria. This was the beginning of the dismantling of the Iron Curtain, rendered totally obsolete by the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November, 1989.