“From the moment Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced the border fence onwards, US President Donald Trump and Orbán have often been compared with regards to their views on border security and migration. The parallels drawn between the two heads of state, one leading a global superpower and the other a regional small power, have marked a truly unprecedented moment of US–Hungarian relations.”


Good fences may make good neighbours, as the proverbial saying goes, but the building of a concrete wall along the entire length of the US–Mexican border proposed by Donald Trump upon officially announcing his candidacy for the presidency on 16 June 2015 led to widespread indignation in the US, Mexico and Latin America at large, auguring badly for inter-American relations. The border barrier issue, however, has been poisoning US–Mexican and inter-American relations since 1993 when, as part of Operation Gatekeeper, President Clinton ordered the construction of a 13-mile-long (21-kilometres) border wall between San Diego and Tijuana. Since then some 700 miles (1,100 kilometres) of border fence and wall sections have been built mostly during the second term of President George W. Bush (2005–2009) and the two terms of President Obama (2009–2017) in line with the 2006 Secure Fence Act. The act, as signed by George W. Bush, did enjoy solid bipartisan support.1 Two-thirds of the border, however, have remained unfenced, largely along the winding natural divide, the Rio Grande. In fact, President Trump’s border wall – concrete, fence or high-tech virtual – would be the culmination of a process that has been going on for 25 years and has shown more continuity than change over the various administrations in the White House. Thus, the border barrier on the US– Mexican border can be best understood as America’s Wall rather than simply Trump’s Wall.

Due to the increasing militarisation of the Border Patrol, now counting some 20,000 agents, and the growth of unauthorised border crossing-related deaths numbering 6,796 between 1998 and 2017,2 domestic and international opposition to the US border barrier have sometimes made references to the “Iron Curtain” in North America and its cutting a continent in half. But President Trump’s border wall plans – to some a promise, to others a threat – have invited the most vociferous criticism and backlash so far, and the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall analogies became rooted in the media3 without much questioning of the suitability of the comparison. Interestingly prior to 2017, except for political science professor Paul G. Kengor’s article on the incorrect use of the Iron Curtain/Berlin Wall metaphor in relation to the US–Mexican border fence, I could not find writings addressing the issue. It is only in the past two years that there have been some media reactions to this “inane comparison”.4 Otherwise the gross mistake of comparing the protective border fences against unauthorised entry with the prison wall-like border fences against unauthorised exit went largely unnoticed in the American and Western media. Simultaneously, however, the Iron Curtain metaphor made an even bigger comeback in the region of its original location: the heart of Europe.


While most of the world, and Europe in particular, was reading the news about the proposal of candidate Trump in disbelief, the very next day, on 17 June 2015, the Hungarian centre-right government of Viktor Orbán announced the building of a border fence along Hungary’s southern Schengen border with Serbia – where the Iron Curtain used to run – in response to the European migrant crisis that had been going strong since 2014. The idea of a fence barrier originated with László Toroczkai, then a vice-president of the right-wing populist Jobbik Party and mayor of Ásotthalom, a village of 4,000 people next to the border that was hard-hit by the chaotic and intimidating influx of thousands of unauthorised migrants transiting through the village daily during the peak of the migration crisis. Despite his aversion to fence walls, Toroczkai started lobbying for them in the autumn of 2014 since he saw no other solution to restore law and order and to normalise the increasingly tense situation in the area. As examples of effective fence walls, he drew on the US–Mexican and Bulgarian–Turkish border barriers in place since the 1990s and 2013 respectively.5 Interestingly, Israel’s sophisticated border barriers erected mostly due to anti-terrorist considerations were hardly referred to in the media at the time even though the 152 mile-long (245 kilometres anti-immigrant smart fence on the Egyptian border – aiming to stop illegal African immigration – had been under construction since November 2010.6 As for Hungary, both the Hungarian domestic opposition and international critics immediately turned to the Iron Curtain metaphor.7 From the moment Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced the border fence onwards, US President Donald Trump and Orbán have often been compared with regards to their views on border security and migration.8 The parallels drawn between the two heads of state, one leading a global superpower and the other a regional small power, have marked a truly unprecedented moment of US–Hungarian relations. The protection of borders and national interests with walls and fences prompted many, nationally and internationally alike, to draw analogies with the Iron Curtain, with which both powers – no matter how disparate they may be – had a historically intimate relation.

The US faced the Iron Curtain on the inner-German border and in West Berlin. It assisted escapees from behind the Iron Curtain with generous refugee admissions, and its staunch anti-Communism contributed to tearing down the fences cutting through Europe. Hungary lived the life of captive nations behind the Iron Curtain and was the first country in the Eastern Bloc to open it in August 1989, thus contributing to the end of the Cold War. Yet by the mid-2010s both nations’ governments had come to see walls and fences as necessary to handle unauthorised entry and national security issues. Recent opinion polls, however, attest to the fact that whereas one third of Americans (35 per cent in 2017 and 40 per cent in 2019) support the construction of the border wall and well over half of them oppose it (62 per cent in 2017 and 58 per cent in 2019),9 in the case of Hungary more than three quarters of those polled (78 per cent in 2017 and 85 per cent in December 2018) approve of the border fence and less than a quarter oppose it (20 per cent in 2017 and about 13 per cent in 2019). Interestingly, when the aggregate data for the 28 EU member states (39 per cent approved – 51 per cent disapproved in 2017) are broken down to individual countries, we find a very strong East–West dichotomy in the support for tight border controls and migrant quota allocations.10 When it comes to fortified borders, Eastern Europeans11 have a special relationship to fences and walls with various generations living behind them for decades. Since 2015, Central and Eastern European countries have come to form a solid bloc in support of border controls just as they used to form a bloc behind the Iron Curtain. The legacy of the Iron Curtain indeed may serve to explain the marked stance of the Eastern part of the EU against migration.

Critics on both sides of the Atlantic often emphasise that border barriers have never been effective.12 These critics employ the Iron Curtain metaphor in the same populist manner that they accuse the governments on the political Right of when its adherents refer to migration as a threat to national security, values, and identity. True, the issue of migration lends itself to easy politicisation and political gains. The resurrection of the metaphor serves the purpose of discrediting the proponents of border barriers necessitated by the tidal waves of current migration. But apparently, the Iron Curtain left behind a very different imprint in the West and the East and on the two ends of the political spectrum. At the end of the Cold War few envisioned the rapid unfolding of the global migration crisis. In fact, the tightly closed borders of the Cold War era – marked by the prison wall-like Iron Curtain in Europe and its “affiliates” around the globe such as the Bamboo Curtain in East Asia, the Korean Demilitarised Zone, the Cactus Curtain in Cuba, and the Ice Curtain in the Bering Straits – kept one third of the global population off the global market13 and strictly limited in its international movement.

Even though in the post-Cold War world the age of globalisation was expected to break down barriers of all kinds and to make borders largely symbolic, the global emergence of the national security state in our post-9/11 world, coupled with the intensifying global migration crisis, led to quite the contrary. We seem to have entered the era of global walls. Nearly three decades after the dismantling of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, one third of the countries of the world have some type of wall on their borders or border sections.14 Yet in this world of walls, the erection of a border fence on the Schengen border section between Hungary and Serbia in 2015 – deemed necessary to stop the massive and irregular influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa heading mostly towards Germany, Sweden and the UK – led to a major controversy and debate in Europe. But while the Hungarian government was heavily criticised internationally, especially in Western Europe, for constructing “a new Iron Curtain”, the very nations of Europe once living behind the Iron Curtain came to view the Hungarian border fence as a necessary evil to protect the European Union from the destabilising effects of mass migration. For many, the fence wall on the southern Schengen border of the EU became the guarantor of the rule of law and social peace, in no way comparable to the hated and feared Iron Curtain that locked up entire nations between 1948 and 1989 while protecting their oppressors’ regimes. The Visegrád Group (V4) of Central Europe especially turned into a united bloc in support of increased border controls and restrictions on migration.15 The fence walls of the spatially identical border sections reflect not only the changing concepts of walls, but also the distinct historical experiences with migration.


The Iron Curtain was a Soviet-style border barrier and in fact was merely an extension of the long-standing Soviet policy of impermeable frontiers. In the Soviet Union even internal migration was kept under check by the mandatory registration of residence and internal passports; the possibility of legal emigration was terminated in 1922, and unauthorised exit was severely controlled following the 1928 establishment of heavily guarded borders by the Soviet Border Troops. After 1945, this system of border and population controls was replicated further west of Soviet lands.16 As a CIA Geographic Intelligence Report pointed out in 1955: “The present boundary of the USSR is in reality an iron curtain within the Iron Curtain.”17 The western borders of the satellite countries were, on the one hand, a geopolitical wall with the aim of protecting the Soviet buffer zone militarily against potential Western European threats after 1945. On the other hand, it was a migrant wall against emigration or rather flight from Communism. Prohibitive exit rules and closed borders were deemed necessary in order to prevent mass escape from the Soviet-occupied and puppet government-run Eastern European countries and to forestall the brain-drain phenomenon and labour shortages in times of heightened labour mobilisation following the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1950, some 15 million emigrants – mainly ethnic Germans – fled from the Soviet-occupied Eastern European countries creating a major refugee crisis in Western Europe that in fact ended only with the erection of the Iron Curtain.18

Today, the European Green Belt or the Iron Curtain Trail natural conservation areas, running from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, follow the corridor of the former Iron Curtain. Except for a few sections left or reconstructed as a historical memento and a tourist attraction, the once most well-known and deadly fence wall in the world is gone, with green fields, natural reserves and bicycle routes in its place. Map source: Public Domain, EuGB_solid_labels_web.png

Konrad Jarausch points out that the border barrier definitely had a stabilising effect on Western Europe. Yuliya Komska expresses the same view by saying that “citizens of the adjacent Western-bloc countries, eager to keep out Communism and atheism, were often just as interested in maintaining the physical borders as were the authorities in the Eastern bloc”.19 As a matter of fact, the construction of the Berlin section of the Iron Curtain, for example, was partly received with a degree of relief in the Western world as a means to avoid war.20 Upon receiving the news about the construction of walls in Berlin, US President Kennedy expressed the following to top aide Kenneth O’Donnell: “It’s not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war. […] This is the end of the Berlin crisis. The other side panicked – not we. We’re going to do nothing now because there is no alternative except war.”21 The Wall was also expected to stop the flow of escapees not only by the East Germans and the Soviets. In the US State Department, Foy David Kohler, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs commented on the constructions as follows: “[T]he East Germans have done us a favour. That refugee flow was becoming embarrassing.”22 It is important to emphasise that the Iron Curtain was imposed upon Eastern Europe by an invading power. The Soviet Union had the most vested interests in the fortified borders, and Soviet know-how and military advisers were instrumental in the construction, maintenance and upgrading of the Iron Curtain border throughout its entire existence of more than 40 years. Its costs, however, burdened predominantly the satellite countries’ budgets, constituting a major drain on their economies.23

The entire length of the Iron Curtain stretched over 4,220 miles (6,800 kilometres) through Europe from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea and divided the continent into East and West. In comparison, it was twice as long as the US–Mexican border of 1,933 miles (3,110 kilometres), and it was even longer than the 3,987 miles (6,416 kilometres) US–Canadian border (discounting the Alaskan–Canadian border 1,538 miles (2,475 kilometres).24 Until its fall in 1989, it was a physical and ideological border between two hostile blocs. Physically, it emerged gradually. Next to the Soviet–Norwegian and Soviet–Finnish sections in place since 1928, the new Finnish and Baltic sections were established by 1945. Following their annexation, Eastern Finland (Karelia) and the Baltic States lost their sovereignty and were integrated into the Soviet Union. The Baltic coastal region, including that of Poland after 1945, lacked the Iron Curtain per se, yet it was dotted by large, inaccessible military areas similar in their function to those of the fence walls. In the other satellite states the Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Romanian and Bulgarian sections started to be erected and organised in 1948–1949. By 1952, with the construction of the inner-German border (IGB), the Iron Curtain was ready in its entire length except for the Berlin section where the Wall, the most famous part of the Iron Curtain, was erected around West Berlin in various stages between 1961 and 1975.

The Berlin Wall divided into two sections: a 69.5 mile-long (111.9 kilometres) portion between East Germany (GDR) and West Berlin and a 26.8 miles (43.1 kilometres) portion between East Berlin and West Berlin. It was not one solid line of concrete but a combination of different types of double physical border barriers that consisted of various types of fortified fences (expanded metal, metal mesh, limit signal and barrier fences) and of walls (wall-shaped front walls and concrete walls). The most well-known, 26.8 miles (43.1 kilometres) long section consisted of double concrete walls – with the 160 yards (146 metres) “death strip” in between – stretching across the city centre between East and West Berlin. With sections also reaching into residential East Berlin, the complete length of the Berlin Wall was 96 miles (156 kilometres) encircling entire West Berlin.25

The third-generation inner German border (IGB) fortification system, c. 1984. Source: Public Domain, File:System_of_gdr_border_ fortification.jpg

The border defence works along the Iron Curtain were highly complex and heavily militarised areas. Next to the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), its sections of the IGB and the Berlin Wall were the most guarded in the world.26 Each section had its own development and history, but in general terms they included the following:

a) a border zone, 1.2–9.3 miles wild (2–5 kilometres), in which the local population was issued special documentation and strictly controlled in their movement in and out. Unreliable elements were not allowed to work or reside in the zone and were forcibly relocated;

b) regular patrols to prevent escape attempts. They included cars and mounted units. Guards and dog patrol units watched the border 24/7 and were authorised to use their weapons to stop escapees;

c) watchtowers and flood lights at regular distances;

d) anti-vehicle ditches and roadblocks;

e) raked sand strips to track border violations;

f) two lines of barbed wire fences (on the outer and inner borders) with landmines and booby traps in between. Typically in rural areas the border was marked by double fences made of steel mesh (expanded metal) with sharp edges, while near urban areas a high concrete barrier similar to the Berlin Wall was built. A later development of the mid-1960s was the electric signal fence as designed in the SU.27

In addition to the East German sections, the other highly effective section was the 560 miles (900 kilometres) long Czechoslovak border with West Germany and Austria where, apart from the minefields, high voltage electric fences of 4,000– 6,000V were installed between 1951 and 1965. Martin Pulec from the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism commented as follows: “The fact [that] there were electric fences was a secret in Czechoslovakia, but some people knew about it from foreign radio stations like Radio Free Europe and Voice of America.”28 Between 1948 and 1989, there were 282 certified cases of death out of which 91 escapees got electrocuted; most of them, however, were shot (145 escapees), while the rest were killed by mines, drowned, or were savaged by guard dogs.29 In general, minefields proved very effective deterrents. For instance, on the 221 miles (357 kilometres) long Hungarian–Austrian border alone, there were more than 1.1 million landmines deployed in 4–5 lines, first between 1948 and 1956 and then between 1957 and 1970, when the mines were finally replaced by an electric signalling system alarming the guards directly. In fact, in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1956 the exodus of some 200,000 Hungarian refugees between October 1956 and January 1957 was made possible by the May 1956 joint decision of the Political Committee of the Hungarian Workers’ Party (MDP) and the Defence Council to clear the minefields on the complete 632 miles (1,081 kilometres) long Hungarian–Austrian and Hungarian–Yugoslav border.30 Clearance of the border sections was completed by September 1956, and after the Revolution the redeployment of mines was effected on the Austrian border only.31 When asked about the effectiveness of the physical barriers and the contemporary high-tech solutions, however, Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation, emphasised that the single most effective aspect of the Iron Curtain was that guards were given the order to shoot trespassers. “It was the biggest possible deterrent. Everyone knew: if you tried to cross over to the West, you had to count on dying in a hail of bullets.”32

Many underline that the Iron Curtain was not impregnable. Some sections of it were porous, and despite all the effort and money invested in it, thousands managed to cross over, under, or above it.33 Still, successful crossings were the exception rather than the rule. For example, in the 1970s, only one in 20 escapees (5 per cent) managed to cross the IGB; in the 1980s, only 1 per cent of escapees reached the other side.34 The cruel “death strip” represented by the Iron Curtain proved a highly successful deterrent. It made unauthorised crossing extremely dangerous since the attempt rarely went undetected. The fences and walls stood as powerful symbols of control and their message was unmistakably clear: emigration by illegal means was practically impossible or way too risky at best. The fence wall reinforced by a human wall of guards patrolling 24/7 was almost impenetrable and very effective. The numbers of those who died while crossing, who were caught in the act and were imprisoned or were even executed are still not known. The most researched sections of the Iron Curtain from this aspect are the IGB and Berlin, where the total current estimates are at 75,000 failed attempts and about 1,300 dead.35 The overwhelming majority of the 13.3 million emigrants from Eastern Europe between 1950 and 1990 left legally, having been granted official exit permits. 75 per cent left under bilateral agreements for “ethnic migration”, ransomed by the receiving government, under lengthy family reunification procedures (for children and the elderly), or fled via third countries.36

With this background in mind it is clear to see that the application of the Iron Curtain metaphor to the current border fences, and the Hungarian border fence in particular, is a serious mistake despite the fact that both constitute fence walls running along the spatially identical southern border sections of Hungary with Serbia and Croatia. The border sections may be the same, but the two fences are definitely not when we consider the purpose, message, and popular support behind them, and not only because today in Hungary – unlike in the United States37 – the use of deadly force is not authorised against illegal border crossers, nor are the landmines and high voltage fences of the Cold War years. This latter aspect of the borders of the Iron Curtain seems to have been lost on those who employ the metaphor, but not on those who run the current migrant fences. In February 2016, following the Parliament’s giving greater power to the military to act along the Bulgarian–Turkish border, Prime Minister Boris Boyko assured reporters that “we’re not going to shoot the refugees, just stop them and send them back”.38

As historian Áron Máthé, vice president of the Hungarian Committee of National Remembrance points out, the Cold War analogy is wrong for various reasons. First, the Iron Curtain stood as a wall of separation between totalitarian dictatorships and the free world. It protected the Communist regimes and forced the captive nations into submission, whereas today, free nations aim to keep up law and order through their elected governments. Therefore, Máthé argues, “modern-day border fences protect Western-style rule of law”. Second, while both border fences are meant to prevent unauthorised crossings, the direction of the population movements they are expected to control is distinct. The Iron Curtain aimed to prevent unlawful exit, that is, “flight from the enslaved nations”, while today’s border fences are meant to control unauthorised entry. I find it crucial to add that in the Iron Curtain era, authorised exit opportunities were very limited. Legal emigration was discouraged through endless legal hurdles, humiliation, intimidation, loss of jobs and confiscation of property. Finally, as Máthé specifies it, whereas today’s border fences emerged as a result of open political debates with a clear objective, the Iron Curtain was erected undercover and mendaciously, exemplified by the Berlin Wall being called the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” or as we have seen, by the high voltage electric fences of the Czechoslovak–German section.39

The use of the Iron Curtain metaphor predominantly by the Western media and political elite in this new setting holds the danger of driving a wedge between the East and West of the EU amidst the global migration crisis that is not expected to subside in the near future. As Komska puts it in “Iron Curtains”, many Western “[media] outlets have dusted off the term to charge Eastern European countries with sealing their borders, Cold War-style. We should retire the metaphor before it plays a part in fracturing Europe once again.” The challenges facing the EU call for converging instead of diverging policies of border controls and migration. The finding of a common voice, however, could be effectively impeded by the invocation of Cold War terminology when EU politicians and the media lash out against the “Iron Curtain mentality” of Central and Eastern Europeans and their governments in relation to migration. Walls have two sides, however, and it seems the “mental wall” that the Germans used to call “the wall in the head” to describe the psychological impact of the four decades long separation between the East and the West continues to limit Western European thinking as well. This is especially worrisome since the legacy of the Iron Curtain is still strong and can be clearly documented in statistics from life expectancy to economy and prosperity, from the gross average wage to the perceived corruption index or the percentage of the foreign-born. The line of the Iron Curtain looms even in the 2017 EU scandal regarding the different quality of foodstuffs produced by multinational companies for consumers in the eastern and western parts of the EU.40

To be continued…

(This article is a modified and updated version of Éva Eszter Szabó, “Fence Walls: From the Iron Curtain to the US and Hungarian Border Barriers and the Emergence of Global Walls”. In: Walls, Material and Rhetorical. Past, Present, and Future. Guest-edited by Virginia R. Dominguez, Review of International American Studies, RIAS, Vol. 11, Spring–Summer, No. 1, 2018, 83–111, www.journals. 6385/5347.)


1 Jean Guerrero and Leo Castañeda, “America’s Wall. Decades-long Struggle to Secure US–Mexico Border”. KPBS Public Broadcasting, 17 Nov. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

2 “Agent Staffing of the U.S. Border Patrol, 1992–2017”. Statista. The Statistics Portal, Feb. 2019. Web. 5 Feb. 2019; “Immigrant Deaths near the Southwest Border, 1998–2017 (U.S. Border Patrol)”. Statista. The Statistics Portal, Feb. 2019. Web. 10 Feb. 2018.

3 Leslie Marmon Silko, “America’s Iron Curtain: The Border Patrol State”. Nation, 17 Oct. 1994, 4. Web. 25 Nov. 2017; “Bush Signs New Border Fence into Law”. Global Research, 5 Nov. 2006. Web. 28 Nov. 2017; Josephine Huetlin, “Bricks and Mortals: The New Great Wall of Trump Looks a Lot Like the Old Iron Curtain”. The Daily Beast, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2017; Brian Regal, “Like the Iron Curtain, Trump’s Wall Won’t Work”, The Star-Ledger,, 17 Apr. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2017.

4 Paul G. Kengor, “America’s ‘Berlin Wall’?” The Center for Vision and Values, Grove City College, 16 March 2007. Web. 10 Dec. 2017; Matt Mayer, “Not the Berlin Wall. No, Trump’s Border Wall with Mexico Isn’t Equivalent to the Berlin Wall”. U.S. News & World Report, 17 Apr. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2019; Paul Bedard, “CBS Compares Trump’s Border Wall to Berlin Wall ‘Death Zone’”. Washington Examiner, 2 Jan. 2018. Web. 26 Jan. 2019.

5 Serdült Viktória, “Kerítést építene a határon Toroczkai” [Toroczkai to build a border fence]. Origo, 23 Jan. 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2017; Rick Lyman, “Bulgaria Puts Up a New Wall, But This One Keeps People Out”. The New York Times, 5 Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2018.

6 The main section was completed by December 2013 and the full length of the border was smart-fenced by 2016. Stuart E. Eisenstat, “Trump Says He Wants Israel’s Border Wall. That Means He Actually Wants Smart Fences”. USA Today, 7 Feb. 2019. Web. 14 Feb. 2019.

7 The distorted application of the Iron Curtain metaphor to the Eastern EU and its border fences was the topic of only two articles internationally, both by Yuliya Komska (Dartmouth College): “What Red Deer Tell Us about Our Dangerous Iron Curtain Obsession”. Pacific Standard, The Social Justice Foundation, 11 March 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2017; and “Iron Curtains: The World’s New Dividing Lines are No Better than the Old”. Reuters, 14 May 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017. In Hungary, historian Áron Máthé, gave various interviews refuting the application of the Iron Curtain metaphor to the current fence, as in “Border Fence Equals Iron Curtain? Three Reasons Why Cold War Analogy Is False”. Hungary Today, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017; and Zoltán Veczán’s article on the same in Hungarian: “Nem kell a szómágia” [No word-magic is needed]. Magyar Nemzet, 7 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017. For critical voices see “Vasfüggöny a szerb–magyar határon” [Iron Curtain on the Serbo-Hungarian border]. Népszava, 17 June 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2017; Leonid Bershidsky, “The Irony of Hungary’s Border Wall: This Cold War Survivor Should Know Better”., 18 June 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2017; Amy Rodgers and Annastiina Kallius, “Behind the Iron Fence: Why Hungary’s Anti- Migrant Fence Will Be a Disaster”. The World Post, 28 July 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017.

8 Anthony Faiola, “Hungary’s Prime Minister Becomes Europe’s Donald Trump”. The Washington Post, 4 Sept 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017; Henry Porter, “Why Trump’s Border Fence Won’t Work – And Neither Will the EU’s”. Vanity Fair, 4 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2017; Gideon Rachman, “Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, and the West’s Great Walls”. Financial Times, 29 Feb. 2016, Web. 24 Nov. 2017.

9 See Pew Research polls in Rob Suls, “Most Americans Continue to Oppose U.S. Border Wall, Doubt Mexico Would Pay for It”. Pew Research Center, 24 Feb. 2017. Web. 10 Jan. 2018; and John Gramlich, “How Americans See Illegal Immigration, the Border Wall, and Political Compromise”. Pew Research Center, 16 Jan. 2019, Web. 14 Feb. 2019.

10 On Hungarian vs. EU data see Project 28 poll results (Q9) in “Project 28 – Migration”. Századvég Foundation, 2017,; Project 28 poll results in “Project 28 – Migration, Terrorism”. Századvég Foundation, 2018. Web. 20 May 2018; “Társadalmi konszenzus van a V4 országokban a migráció elutasítását illetően” [There is a social consensus in V4 countries about the rejection of migration], Nézőpont Intézet, 13 Dec. 2018. Web. 14 Feb. 2019.

11 Consider that ‘Eastern Europe’ here is not a geographical, but a political and historical term. Also note that Communist Albania and Yugoslavia were not considered as parts of the Eastern Bloc. The former aligned with China from 1960, while the latter – under the leadership of President Tito – was the initiator of the Non-Aligned Movement established in 1961 and was thus independent and neutral.

12 Reece Jones, “Borders and Walls: Do Barriers Deter Unauthorized Migration?” Migration Policy Institute, 5 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2017; Porter; Regal.

13 Douglas S. Massey, “Patterns and Processes of International Migration in the 21st Century”. Paper prepared for Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective, June 2003. Web. 21 Nov. 2017.

14 Jones, “Borders and Walls”.

15 “Társadalmi konszenzus van”.

16 CIA/RR–G–12, Geographic Intelligence Report. The European Borders of the USSR. Office of Research and Reports, May 1955, 1. Web. 15 Feb. 2019; Delia Rahmonova-Schwarz, “Migration in the Soviet Period and in the Early Years of USSR’s Dissolution: A Focus on Central Asia”. REMI, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2010 , par. 3–18. Web. 15 Feb. 2019.

17 CIA/RR–G–12, 1–2a.

18 Hans Fassmann, “The Regulation of East–West Migration: Political Measurement in Austria and Germany”. Regulation of Migration: International Experiences, edited by Anita Böcker et al., Het Spinhuis Publishers, 1998, 207, 209.

19 Konrad H. Jarausch, The Rush to German Unity. Oxford University Press, 1994, 9; Komska, “Iron Curtains”.

20 Francis Taylor, The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961–9 November 1989. E-book. A&C Black, 2012; W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall: “A Hell of a Lot Better Than a War”. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, Ch. 7.

21 Qtd. in Smyser, 106.

22 Qtd. in Michael R. Beschloss, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1961–1963. E-book, Edward Burlingame Books, 1991.

23 Léka Gyula, “A műszaki zár- és erődrendszer (vasfüggöny) felszámolása, 1948–1989” [The elimination of the fortified line (Iron Curtain), 1948–1989]. Hadtudomány, Vol. IX, No. 3–4, 1999. Web. 10 March 2018.

24 U.S. Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011. Geography and Environment, Table 359, U.S.–Canada and U.S.–Mexico Border Lengths, 2011, 223. Web. 12 March 2018.

25 “Die Berliner Mauer (Stand 31. Juli 1989). Polizeipräsident von Berlin”. Chronik der Mauer, www.; Gordon L. Rottman, The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German border 1961–89. Fortress 69, Osprey, 2008, 4.

26 Rottman, 4–5, 14–22.

27 Ibid., 14–28; Léka; Berki Imre, “A magyar határvédelem története” [The history of the Hungarian frontier defence]. Múlt-kor, 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 12 March 2018.

28 Ian Willoughby, “Killings on Czechoslovak Border during Communist Era Examined in New Report”. Radio Praha, 10 Dec. 2004. Web. 10 March 2018. (Note that the high voltage electric fences did not stretch over the entire length of the 560mi/900km long border as it did not follow each and every turn in the border.)

29 Ibid.

30 The relaxation of the western and southern borders of Hungary in mid-1956 was due to the improvement of bilateral relations with both neighbouring countries after Stalin’s death in 1953 and the declaration of Austria’s neutrality following the termination of its four-power occupation in 1955. See Orgoványi István, “A nyugati és a déli határövezet története 1948 és 1956 között” [The history of the western and the southern frontier zone between 1948 and 1956]. Kommunizmus Bűnei Alapítvány, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2018.

31 Berki; Zsiga Tibor, A “vasfüggöny” és kora [The era of the Iron Curtain]. Hanns Seidel Alapítvány, 1999, 43, 45, 54; Orgoványi.

32 Qtd. in Huetlin.

33 Silko 4; Komska, “Iron Curtains”.

34 Jarausch, 17.

35 John Hooper, “East Germany Jailed 75,000 Escapers”. The Guardian, 7 Aug. 2001, www.; “More Than 1,100 Berlin Wall Victims”. Deutsche Welle, 9 Aug. 2005. Web. 22 Nov. 2017.

36 Jarausch, 17–19.

37 The use of deadly force resulted in the death of 33 migrants on the US–Mexican border between 2010–2015. Reece Jones, Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move. Kindle edition, Verso, 2016, Ch.

38 Vassela Sergueva, “Bulgaria’s New ‘Iron Curtain’ Keeping People Out, Not In”. Digital Journal, 23 March, 2016. Web. 12 Jan. 2018.

39 Áron Máthé, “Border Fence Equals Iron Curtain? Three Reasons Why Cold War Analogy Is False”. Hungary Today, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2018.

40 “Twenty Maps that Show the Legacy of the Iron Curtain”. ZME Science, 19 May 2017. Web. 21 March 2018.?; Daniel Boffey, “Europe’s ‘Food Apartheid’: Are Brands in the East Lower Quality than in the West?” The Guardian, 15 Sept. 2017. Web. 5 May 2018.

Most recent

Newsletter signup

Like it ? Share it !

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pocket
Share on email