On 23 October 2008 during her state call in the Slovak Republic, Elisabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom, unveiled the Iron Curtain Casualties Memorial under the Devín Castle at the place where the Iron Curtain used to stand. Construction of the Memorial was initiated by the British Embassy. The construction took almost one year.
Among the guests was Nicholas Winton, then at the age of 99 years, who saved 669 Slovak and Czech kids during Holocaust from Nazi concentration camps. Matej Mináč who made the story immortal in his movie was also invited; some of Winton’s children and veterans from the World War II were also present at the meeting.
The height of the Memorial is more than three metres, it is made of a welded iron structure and covered with rusty patina. There is the country relief shown on both sides of the statue made of welded iron and a double-sided bronze plate.
It reminds us of the imaginary border that had divided Europe and the whole world into two camps, the western one lead by U.S. and the eastern one lead by the Soviet Union.
The term Iron Curtain started to be used after the Winston Churchill’s speech in 1946 in Fulton where he called for cooperation against communism. His following words were made immortal on the Memorial: “The Iron Curtain divided the continent from Szczecin at the Baltic Sea down to Trieste at the Mediterranean Sea.”
In former Czechoslovakia, the Iron Curtain was first pulled down by the citizens of Bratislava. On 10 December 1989, they crossed the still carefully watched border to Hainburg, Austria, to look at the Devín Castle from the other side.
Text author: Andrej Barát