Iron Curtain, a name for the communications barrier between the Communist countries of central and eastern Europe and the rest of the world. The Iron Curtain existed for some 45 years after World War II. The barrier was maintained through official restriction by these countries on travel and international exchange of information. The barrier ceased to exist after the collapse of most of the European Communist regimes in the late 1980's. Winston Churchill popularized the phrase in a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946.