Iron Curtain Map

Map by Reddit user OnlyMapper

This map above is Europe at a time of political and ideological divide in much of the 20th century.

The so-called Iron Curtain was formed by the former Soviet Union (marked on the map in red) when the Second World War ended in order to separate itself and its dependent partner states from the western European countries which are mostly non-communist. From being an imaginary border, it soon became an actual, physical border wall that is strictly guarded.

The term Iron Curtain was popularized by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He coined it in a speech delivered in the United States in 1946. According to the Agence France-Presse, however, a Russian writer first adopted this term in 1918.

It was also the Soviet Union that led the signing of the Warsaw pact in 1955. The countries that allied with the communist Soviets form the Eastern bloc, indicated on the map in pink:

  • East Germany (German Democratic Republic)
  • Poland
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria

The city of Berlin, located inside East Germany, is separated by the infamous Berlin Wall, with the western side having more liberties, and the eastern side being communist-controlled.

The country of Albania (marked in pink and white) was also part of the Warsaw treaty until they withdrew from the agreement in the late 1960s.

The countries marked in blue make up the Western bloc, which are the member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

  • Iceland
  • United Kingdom
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • France
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany)
  • Netherlands
  • Luxembourg
  • Belgium

While it was a socialist state, the country that was Yugoslavia (green) was not aligned with any side.

Countries that are neutral or “militarily non-aligned” (white) are the following:

  • Ireland
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • Cyprus

Reddit user u/KeepThemmunsOut says that these non-aligned countries “were at least to some degree rooting for the West albeit with some reservations”, with a few countries even considering NATO affiliation “but faced legal or constitutional impediments.”

These books explore how life was like within the Iron Curtain in Europe:

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