When read today with the luxury of hindsight, his comments on the Soviet Union seem comparatively moderate and restrained, but the war was only just over and this was not a message that was universally popular. The speech provoked a hostile reaction among many in Britain and the United States who still felt warmly towards their wartime allies, the Russians, and resented what they saw as ‘warmongering’, while many Americans were suspicious that Churchill was looking to use them to prop up the failing British Empire.
Churchill was forced to defend himself in a speech in New York just over a week later, when he was criticised for attacking the US Soviet ally, and promoting an ongoing alliance with Britain.
When, in 1947 and 1948, action by the Soviet Union indicated that the cold war really might be a reality, especially the attempt to blockade the Western sector in Berlin, Churchill’s prophecies were once again seen to be coming true.
Did Churchill cause the Cold War? Explore the background to the Cold War, and Churchill’s role in it, here.
Get the Churchill Bulletin, delivered to your inbox, once a month.