Soviet Art

USSR Culture

6th World Festival of Youth in USSR

Moscow during 6th World Festival of Youth in USSR

Moscow during 6th World Festival of Youth in USSR

VI World Festival of Youth and Students – youth international festival, which opened July 28, 1957 in Moscow. The guests of the festival were 34,000 people from 131 countries. The slogan of the festival – “For Peace and Friendship”. The main artist of the VI World Festival of Youth and Students in 1957 was Boris Knoblok. One can marvel at the scale of thinking of the artist, his inexhaustible imagination, together with the experience of the joy of collective creativity, the foresight with which he and the organizers of the festival went to meet the people’s initiative, turning the aesthetic factor in the warm hospitality of Muscovites. The symbol of the Youth Forum, which was attended by delegates of leftist youth organizations in the world, became a dove of peace, devised by Pablo Picasso.

VI International Cultural Get-Together Festival

VI International Cultural Get-Together Festival

For the festival in Moscow, following the tradition of previous youth festivals planned planting trees in the parks of the cities where they were held, was laid the park “Friendship”. Timed to the event, in the park was erected a sculpture “Flower Festival”, sometimes it is called “Friendship”. Also, were built the hotel complex “Tourist” and the hotel “Ukraine”. “Mir” (peace) avenue was named in 1957 in honor of the international peace movement and due to the Moscow festival – a memorial sign of it is still seen on the wall of the house number 2. For the first time, in the capital appeared Hungarian buses “Ikarus”, to the event were produced first cars GAZ-21 “Volga” and the first “Rafik” – a festival minibus RAF-10.

Silver badge of the USSR with the logo of the festival (1957)

Silver badge of the USSR with the logo of the festival (1957)

The festival was held for two weeks and became in all respects a significant and explosive event for the Soviet boys and girls – and most massive in its history. In the middle of the Khrushchev thaw was memorable atmosphere of freedom and openness. Foreigners arrived to freely communicate with the Muscovites. Moscow Kremlin and Gorky Park were open to the public. For two weeks of the festival were held eight events.

Music group 'Druzhba' (Friendship) and Edita Piekha

Music group ‘Druzhba’ (Friendship) and Edita Piekha

Interesting Facts:
On television, appeared “Festival” program which produced the first Soviet quiz “Evening of cheerful questions”, an idea which then was borrowed by KVN (most famous in USSR and Russia humor program).
Music group “Friendship” and Edita Piekha with the program “Songs of the world” won the gold medal and the title of winners of the festival.
Maris Liepa participated in the contest of classical and character dance and received a gold medal.

Festival in films and TV:

July 30, 1957 in the cinema “Udarnik” opened the International Film Festival, which featured more than 125 films from 30 countries. Chairman of the jury was the Czechoslovak film critic Antonin Brousil.
August 11 at the closing ceremony (in the same cinema “Udarnik”, where later became to conduct the Moscow international film festivals) were named winners.

Gold medals were awarded the following films about youth, created by renowned filmmakers:

The darkness at midday (dir. Tadashi Imai, Japan)
Roof (ital. Il Tetto, dir. Vittorio De Sica, Italy, France)
Carousel (Hung. Körhinta, dir. Zoltan Fabri, Hungary)
Height (dir. Alexander Zarkhi, 1957, USSR)

Films by young filmmakers, received gold medals:

Our yard (dir. Rezo Chkheidze, USSR)
Channel (Pol. Kanał, dir. Andrzej Wajda, Poland)
Missing (the Czech. Ztracenci, dir. Miloš Makovec, Czechoslovakia), in the Soviet box office released under the name “Three on a Farm”
Death crept surreptitiously (fr. Mort en fraude, dir. Marcel Camus, France)

Documentary and non-fiction films, awarded gold medals:

Start in the stratosphere (dir. Nikita Kurikhin, USSR)
The World of Silence (fr. Le Monde du silence, dir. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle, France)
Hunters of Southern Seas (dir. Maria Slavinskaya, USSR)

Gold Medal was also awarded the Soviet animated film “The fire is burning in yaranga” (dir. Olga Khodataeva).

14 silver and 10 bronze medals were awarded the winners – the filmmakers of China, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Greece, Mongolia, Egypt, France, the Soviet Union, Romania, India, Sweden, Japan, USA, Israel.

The impact of the festival:

Zubovskaya square, № 3 building 1. From 1955 to 1957 there housed the preparatory committee of the VI World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow and, accordingly, the festival headquarters in the days of the meeting.
Sung at the closing ceremony song “Moscow Nights” by Vladimir Troshin and Edita Piekha for a long time became the hallmark of the Soviet Union.

Guests VI World Festival of Youth and Students dancing at Turgenev Square in Moscow, 1957

Guests of VI World Festival of Youth and Students dancing at Turgenev Square in Moscow, 1957

For the festival were written songs “If the guys of all the earth …”, “Moscow Dawns…”, “Ringing guitar over the river …” and others. Marsh “Friends, we are glad to see you” and “Festival Waltz” (author Mikhail Chistov) were published in the newspaper “Moscow Pravda”.
In the country began to spread the fashion for jeans, sneakers, rock and roll and playing badminton. Became popular music’s greatest hits «Rock around the clock», «Hymn of Democratic Youth”, and others.

Festival in works of art:

To the festival is dedicated the feature film “The Girl with the guitar”: in a music store, where works saleswoman Tanya Fedosova (actress Lyudmila Gurchenko), all are preparing for the festival, and at the end of the film, delegates of the festival perform at a concert in the store (with some of them acts Tanya).

Other films dedicated to the festival – “The sailor from the “Comet”, “Chain Reaction,” “Man to Man”, “The road to the festival”, “The road to paradise”.

Boris Knoblok

Boris Knoblok

From the book – an autobiography of Boris Knoblok, the chief artist of the festival:

“My work in mass sports festival promoted my nomination by the committee for the VI World Youth and Students Festival in Moscow in 1957. I do not know what I still have to do in life, but this period may be, and will remain for me the happiest, most productive and most ambitious”.

Viktor Akhlomov, 'Moscow, Garden Ring, VI World Festival of Youth and Students' in USSR, 1957

Viktor Akhlomov, ‘Moscow, Garden Ring, VI World Festival of Youth and Students’ in USSR, 1957

“So, I got an offer to become the chief artist of the Moscow Festival 1957 and gladly gave my consent. It was a year and a half before the festival. Me and I.M. Tumanov – chief director was given carte blanche for the invention of the festival events, both within the already established traditions of the festival (opening day, closing day of the festival, a day of girls, rally-demonstration for peace and friendship – in the anniversary of the explosion American bombs in Hiroshima and students festival fire solidarity with colonial peoples, planting Friendship Park and so on) and the invention of new events”.

Hardly can a man of creative profession dream of greater happiness than to be completely free in his plans, on a territorial coverage scale, in numerical coverage of participants and material possibilities of the implementation of these plans.

Viktor Akhlomov, 'At the carnival in the Gorky park'

Viktor Akhlomov, ‘At the carnival in the Gorky park’

In any seven – ten days to come up with almost the entire program of the festival, the main scenario plans and directions of holidays and get an idea about the whole volume of work. The main celebrations were outlined as follows:

1. The opening of the festival day (the whole city and the Luzhniki).
2. On the closing day of the festival (the city and the Luzhniki).
3. The rally-demonstration for peace and friendship (Manezh Square demonstrations and arteries).
4. Fire solidarity colonial peoples (Ostankino Park).
5. Labor Day (Agricultural Exhibition).
6. Students Festival (University on Lenin Hills).
7. Day of girls (Central House of the Soviet Army, the park and the Central Theater of the Soviet Army).
8. Planting of Friendship Park.
9. Celebration of young workers (professions holiday).
New regional (Moscow) holidays:
1. Soviet Ballet Festival (“Dinamo” stadium).
2. The water festival on the Moscow River.
3. Moscow Carnival (the whole city and all the parks).
4. Equestrian holiday (racecourse).
5. circus cavalcade (Garden ring with the completion of the stadium “Dynamo”).
6. Celebration of science fiction.
7. Ball in the Kremlin.
8. The gala concert of the USSR.

In philately:

In honor of the VI Festival two series of stamps were issued in the USSR:

A series of seven stamps.

Seventeen holidays for ten days of the festival.

Were prepared and decorated all the rooms of concerts, a schedule of arriving delegations at national galas, places of interest, places of meetings, regional meetings, meetings on occupations, meetings on education and so on. Were furnished and decorated clubs for chess players, artists, book lovers, and so on., decorated the venue for all competitions, combined with accompanying festival III sports games of youth and students held under special programs.

It was thought out the plan of design throughout Moscow, the location and place of residence of each delegation, decorated all the ports of arrival of delegations (Odessa, Leningrad, Vladivostok, Riga, Tallinn, and others). All airports, all railway points on following routes, all the approaches to Moscow, all highways, all trains for delegates, air-crafts, vehicles, etc.

The most important event of the festival was its grand opening, which set the tone for the direction and scope of all subsequent days and throughout the festival as a whole. No less responsible and important was the closing day of the festival, which gave the charge to the international youth movement for the future. Charging, political and emotional. Young people leaving our country were firmly convinced of the fruitfulness of international solidarity. By means of art, the power of the emotional impact made our way to the hearts of young people, opened way to the mutual contacts infected with a thirst for understanding and friendship.

The appearance of car procession proclaimed escort group of motor bikers and fanfares with pennants

The appearance of car procession proclaimed escort group of motor bikers and fanfares with pennants


An important factor was the first impressions of our guests. They felt the hospitality of Moscow, created from the beginning of a hot “temperature” of the festival. To this end, organized “car march” through the city – from the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, near the Riga station on 1st Meshchanskaya Street to Sadovaya Street and further around the Garden Ring to the Crimean bridge, then along the seafront to the Frunze Embankment, to the stadium of Lenin in the Luzhniki.

All open car park was collected from “GAZ-69” to powerful trucks with trailing platforms, all open passenger cars and a bus structure with fully opening windows. The usual Moscow buses were not appropriate, because they had open only the upper part of the narrow windows, and the delegates, who were traveling in them, would be deprived of the opportunity to communicate with them Muscovites.

All the vehicles were painted in the colors of the continents (Orange – Europe, blue – America, yellow – Asia, green – Australia, purple – Africa) and decorated accordingly. The appearance of car procession proclaimed escort group of motor bikers and fanfares with pennants. And ahead of the rest of the column went emblem of the festival. From logos dispersed in all directions, garlands of fresh flowers. This was followed by a motorcycle with the festival flag, and behind it – a column of motorcyclists with flags of countries – participants of the festival. In alphabetical order (the Russian alphabet and Russian transcription) drove delegations of the participating countries. Ahead of each delegation, even if it consisted of only one representative, the motorcyclist was traveling with a flag and a sign with the name of the country.

Previously, on a huge table of the chief artist was developed long ribbon – a detailed diagram of the construction of all car procession. The principle of construction varied: it was frontally, ledges, flying geese, etc., depending on the number of delegations cars. The movement of the columns of the USSR opened up a wide head portion of the flags of the USSR and the Union republics, and the procession closed with escort of white motorcyclists. Behind rode motorcycles, painted in all colors of the festival, with decorative flags of continents.

Memorial sign Mira av. was named in 1957 in honor of the International Peace Movement and the 6th World Festival of Youth in USSR. Moscow

Memorial sign Mira av. was named in 1957 in honor of the International Peace Movement and the 6th World Festival of Youth in USSR. Moscow

Renaming streets:

On the plan of Moscow, appeared new street names. So, Alekseevskaya Street and 1st Meschanskaya street were renamed into the prospectus of Peace (Mir), the Garden Ring – Ring of Friendship, etc. These names came from the themed streets. Muscovites liked the name Prospekt Mira and since that time this name has been established forever, and Festival in Moscow stayed in the memory forever.

Fashion of festival

But not so much a holiday decoration on the way of car procession was greeting peace message, how many Muscovites themselves have become a major emotional power of first impressions on delegates. Its, Moscow, unusual for the delegates colors met in the streets of Moscow. This “paint” was the Russian chintz. During the festival became fashionable Russian calico skirts, scarves, bags, shirts. Fashion Houses developed samples of festival clothes and created fashion of the Moscow festival. Designed samples were in mass production, and textile factories made cotton products on the best drawings, as well as developed new designs based on calico tradition, but with new festival emblems.

6th World Festival of Youth in USSR

Book-autobiography by Boris Knoblok (home archive)
images scanned from Soviet era magazines