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tv   Reel America Winston Churchills Epic Iron Curtain Speech Portion  CSPAN  December 11, 2021 9:40am-9:51am EST

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strikes me, with everyone's -- [inaudible] of course, he was human. but if you look also at the actual, you know, bronze statue, i think that's much more worthwhile. >> andrew, i know what naughty thought you're thinking. you're thinking of churchill's remark about the greek prime minister -- [laughter] thank you so much for joining us tonight. this has been a real treasure. i'm so grateful to be able to participate with you before the society, and i give thanks for all of us. welcome and thanks. >> thank you very much. >> the origins of the speech the iron curtain address really go back to a decision by westminster college president frank mcclure who is casting around for whom to invite to
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deliver the john finley green lecture. and he hits on the novel idea of perhaps invite ising winston churchill to come to fulton, missouri, to deliver this address at westminster college. to get churchill here, of course, is a significant task. he manages to do so really courtesy of the good offices of westminster alum major general harry vaughn who happens to be military aide to president truman. vaughn persuades truman to add a handwritten postscript on the invitation, and mcclure sends in this to churchill. the words that truman inscribes are this is a wonderful school in my home state, hope you can do it. i'll introduce you. best regards, harry truman. >> it is this letter that brings churchill across the atlantic ocean to the heartland of the united states, convinced that he has obtained the world's attention. ♪ ♪ >> fulton's biggest day in
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history, as the daily sun gazette put it, had finally arrived. march 5, 1946, was somewhat overcast as crowds lined the streets in anticipation of churchill's motorcade. about 25,000 people were on hand to welcome the dignitaries when they arrived just after noon from jefferson city. there were marching bands, flags and balloons. president harry truman and winston churchill sat up on the back of the open limousine. between them, the president of the college, dr. frank mcclure, sat down lower on the seat. churchill smiled at the crowd giving his v for victory sign and waving his cigar as the car weaved along the route. at last the motorcade entered the grounds of westminster college. the gymnasium was packed with invited guests and dignitaries. loud speakers outside the auditorium delivered the speech to an overflow crowd. a special section near the stage was reserved for the mothers of
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local men who had died in the war. the atmosphere was one of anticipation and uncertainty as churchilled had kept the content of his speech close to the vest. in the buildup to this moment, churchill held court with the u.s. press corps on the train trip to missouri. i think no commenting is a splendid expression, he told reporters who asked what he would say in fulton. i'm using it again and again. throughout his life churchilled had a craved the -- churchilled had craved the world stage ors and here he was once again drawn to the fire of controversy that his words were sure to bring. this was the moment he'd waited for to voice his ominous warning about the threat of communism in europe. churchill had always possessed an uncanny premonition of history. his rich oratory often inspired a broad range of reactions. his moment in fulton would be no different. everyone anticipated controversy. churchill did not disappoint.
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>> -- in the baltic to -- in the adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the curtain. behind that line lies all the capitals of the asian states of central and eastern europe. warsaw, berlin, prague, vienna, budapest, belgrade, bucharest, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what i must call the soviet sphere. and all our countries in one form or another not only to soviet influence, to a very high and -- [inaudible] increasing control from moscow. an a attempt is being made by the russians in berlin to build up a quasi-communist party in
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their zone of occupied germany by by showing special favors to groups of left-wing german leaders. at the end of the fighting last june, the american and british armies withdrew westward in accordance with an earlier agreement to a depth at some points of 150 miles upon a front of nearly 400 miles in order to allow our russian allies to occupy this vast expanse of territory which western democracies had conquered. if now the soviet government tries to build up a pro-communist germany in their area, this will cause new and serious difficulties in the american and british zones and will give the defeated germans the power of putting themselves up -- [inaudible] between the josephs and the
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western dem -- soviets and the western democracies. whatever conclusions may be drawn from these facts, and facts they are, this is certainly not the liberated europe we sought to build up, nor is it one which contains the essentials of permanent peace. on the other hand, ladies and gentlemen, i repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable, still more that it is imminent. it is because i am sure that our fortunes are still in our hands, in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future that i speak out now that i have the occasion and the opportunity to do so. >> churchill walked away certain that he had stirred a hornets' nest of controversy. he knew that his stirred anti-soviet remarks would make a splash and would later remark
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that perhaps the speech had started some thinking that would make history. churchill brushed aside criticism that labeled him a warmonger, but he did believe the soviets sought the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines t. only proper response was to hold fast. i am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength. predictably, the world's reaction was outrage, and his stance against moscow was thought to be dead wrong. president truman, who had personally invited and introduced churchill, insisted that he had no idea what was in the speech ahead of time although many historians now believe truman was aware of what churchill had written. the chicago sun times called the speech poisonous. ing one new york paper described the speech as an ideological declaration of war against russia while many in congress called it shocking. on the trip back to london, crowds gathered outside his hotel chanting, winnie, winnie,
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go away. united nations is here to stay. a british foreign office report on the speech found churchill's conclusions were supported in military departments but condemned by congress, the media and the public. nevertheless, it stated the speech gave the sharpest jolt to american thinking since any utterance since the end of the world and would set the pattern on world affairs for some time to come. and in the soviet union, russian leader joseph of stalin denounced -- josef stalin denounced the speech as warmongering and compared the speech to adolf hitler. ♪ ♪ >> american history tv is looking back at the holidays in the nation's capital throughout the years. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ muck. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> watch more history of the holidays online at ♪ >> american history tv,
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