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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 13. October 4, 1951

The Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain

"A myth," said Platts-Mills in reply to a question by a man who wanted to know why Russia would not let people through the Iron Curtain. "If you want to go to Russia present yourself at the Russian Legation and I am sure you will find them only too helpful—or, better still, make arrangements with your union to be sent as their representative." He went on to say that before 1939 the Russians were so anxious for people to visit their country that an Intourist scheme was operated to subsidise anyone brave enough to risk their own government's threats and go there. After the ravages of war the Russian government could not afford to carry on with this system and now passports were granted automatically by the Western nations. But "the standard of living of the Russian people is rising at such a majestic pace that the time is rapidly approaching when they will be able to open in tourist again." What was the position in Britain today—anyone who dared to go was likely to lose his job by merely announcing his intention to do so. Young people throughout the "free" world were threatened by their governments when they dared to set out for the Berlin Youth Festival, and groups of them were hindered by American bayonets on their way through Austria.

Platts-Mills stated that by the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations, Britain and France set up a series of buffer nations down the west of Russia to prevent "dangerous" ideas from escaping from that country. This fact was asserted by Lloyd George and Clemenceau, and was the origin of the Iron Curtain idea later taken up by Goebbels and Churchill.