Churchill’s Prep for the “Iron Curtain” Speech 1946

Churchill’s Prep for the “Iron Curtain” Speech 1946

Q: Where did Churchill write the Iron Curtain address?

When we first moved to the Unit­ed States we bought a home in New Canaan, Con­necti­cut that had once been owned by Bernard Baruch and used has his get-away. We were told that, as he and Churchill were friends, Churchill had been invit­ed by Baruch to stay there and it was there he wrote his Iron Cur­tain speech. We were nev­er sure whether this was true or whether it was some­thing a local real estate agent had dreamed up. There was anoth­er house down the road where George Wash­ing­ton was said to have slept on his way through! —M.A.

A: Frank Clarke’s in Miami Beach

Churchill did not vis­it Baruch in New Canaan before the Iron Cur­tain speech (Ful­ton, Mis­souri, 6 March). Indeed I can find no record of his ever being there. Baruch often host­ed him at his Fifth Avenue apart­ment in New York City, and at Hob­caw Barony, his South Car­oli­na estate, but not, it seems, New Canaan.

Except for a week’s side-trip to Cuba, Churchill’s prep for the Iron Cur­tain speech was done at 5905 North Bay Road in Mia­mi Beach. It was then the home of Col. Frank Clarke, the Cana­di­an wood pulp mag­nate. Clarke had host­ed him at Lake of the Woods after the 1943 Que­bec Con­fer­ence.

I’m oblig­ed to you for the ques­tion, though, because it put me on to a Churchill press con­fer­ence I hadn’t noticed. It occurred in New York after he and Clemen­tine arrived on the Queen Eliz­a­beth, 14 Jan­u­ary. I real­ly had to write it down. His press con­fer­ences were rare, but always fun. From a book worth hav­ing: Robert Pilpel, Churchill in Amer­i­ca 1895-1961……

At 9:30 P.M. Win­ston and Clemen­tine descend­ed the gang-plank to the sounds of cheers and applause. Churchill flashed the V sign and remarked, “I thank you for this very pri­vate recep­tion.” He and his wife were then ush­ered into a large heat­ed wait­ing room, and a prop­er press con­fer­ence began:

New York Press Conference

Q. Are you avail­able for any syn­di­cate offers?

A. I am always pre­pared to accept any offer.

Q. Will you com­ment on the social­ist pro­gram of the Labour Party?

A. I nev­er crit­i­cize the gov­ern­ment of my coun­try abroad. I very rarely leave off crit­i­ciz­ing it at home.

Q. Do you expect to eat much in America?

A. After rationing I hope to make up for lost time; I can­not say for lost weight.

Q. What is your reac­tion to the British White Paper fix­ing a quo­ta for Jew­ish immi­gra­tion into Palestine?

A. I am opposed to it. As you know, I am a Zion­ist from the very begin­ning of this great experiment.

Q. What is your reac­tion to the fact that you will be liv­ing in Flori­da near Al Capone?

A. Oh, you refer to the for­mer dis­tin­guished res­i­dent of Chica­go. I had not addressed myself to the problem.

Q. How do you feel about shar­ing the secret of the atom­ic bomb?

A. I think it would be a great mis­take to share it until there have been arrange­ments made for the con­trol of such a dread agency.

Q. Is it true that you are writ­ing your memoirs?

A. No. And I don’t know that I shall write them, or whether if I write them they will ever be pub­lished while I am still alive. But you don’t know when I may jot down a few things that might be of interest.

Q. Are you tak­ing a train tonight?

A. I am leav­ing on a train which is going out.

All Ready on the Firing Line

“And indeed he was.” Robert Pilpel con­tin­ues. “He posed for a last few pho­tographs and then announced cheer­ful­ly, ‘I’m off for Alabam’ – or there­abouts.’ He went direct­ly to Penn­syl­va­nia Sta­tion. Next stop: Mia­mi Beach via the Seaboard Coast Line.

The Iron Cur­tain speech had been long in his mind. But he draft­ed the text, vet­ted wise­ly by his wife, at Clarke’s. The Iron Cur­tain draft com­plete, the Churchills left Mia­mi Beach on March 1st. Again the used a Pull­man sleep­er, now bound for Wash­ing­ton. Ahead lay anoth­er train ride with Pres­i­dent Tru­man, and the his­toric events that followed.

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