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Iron Curtain (German: Eiserner Vorhang): 1) Political term coined by W. Churchill in 1945 to characterise the political and ideological dividing line between East and West. It refers to the border separating the Soviet sphere of influence against Western Europe by means of barbed wire, minefields and watchtowers. The political upheaval in central and eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact led to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989/1990.
2) In Austria, nickname for the Safety Curtain in a theatre, which seals off the stage from the auditorium and descends at the end of the performance after the Front Curtain has been lowered. Often equipped with additional fire-prevention appliances. After several theatre fires in Europe (including at the Vienna Ringtheater in 1881), the Safety Curtain also became obligatory in Austria. The Safety Curtains of the Burgtheater and the State Opera, which had been decorated by artists, were destroyed during the Second World War. The new Safety Curtain of the State Opera was designed (1955) by R. H. Eisenmenger, while the curtain at the "Ronacher" Theatre was designed by W. Herzig in 1993.