Chapter 12: Debating Democracy in Red Square

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World Youth Festival 1957 and The Thaw

Sally Belfrage, A Room in Moscow (London: Viking-Reynal, 1959). Written when she was 21, Belfrage lived for a time in Moscow, attended the youth festival and visited China with the post-festival international delegation.

Yale Richmond, Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain (State College: Penn State Press, 2003)

Timothy W. Ryback, Around the Bloc: A History of Rock Music in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990)

Richard Stites, Russian Popular Culture: Entertainment and Society Since 1990 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992) 132. Stites describes the Moscow festival as “a great cultural turning point.”

Vladislav M. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), See especially Chapter 6, The Home Front First Cracks, 1953-1968.

Vladislav Zubok, Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011)



ALL notes correspond to the endnotes in Patriotic Betrayal, supply additional information or evidence, and should be read together.

Note 1-2: World Youth Festivals prior to 1957 (Moscow): 1949 (Budapest), 1951(Berlin) and 1953 (Bucharest), all sponsored by the World Federation of Democratic Youth and the International Union of Students: Counter festival activities

  • 1949 Budapest: In 1949, an American student got caught giving a list of leftwing U.S. delegation members to the Legation (Budapest Legation to the Secretary of State, NARA, RG 800.4089/8-1849); The few anti-festival American students included Paul Seabury, who shortly thereafter became the Rapporteur for the Council on Foreign Relations Study Group 5152, which helped coordinate NSA/CIA projects. Officials in Budapest describe Seabury as “most helpful in furnishing information regarding the delegation’s proceedings to the officers of the Legation.” (Budapest Legation to the Secretary of State, NARA RG 800.4089/8-2449).The full scope of anti-festival activities is contained in a still-classified State Department intelligence report No. 4980, “Preparation for the Festival and the Congress of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), 1949,” prepared by OIR [Office of Intelligence and Research]. This report was declassified under the 25 year rule and re-classified in 2001. A FOIA request filed in 2003 was denied in 2012; thus the report remains classified. Its existence was discovered in a footnote in another OIR Report. At the time of the 2012 denial, two similar requests were granted for OIR reports. The difference appears to be that the declassified reports pertained to pro-West initiatives, while the denied request covered actions the U.S. government (and others) were taking against the Soviet-backed organizations.
  • In 1949, NSA sent an official observer to Budapest, Patricia Baker, who ostensibly worked as a clerk in the American Embassy in Paris. (NARA RG 800.4089/9-2649). The international affairs vice president, Rob West, believed that West previous did work for the U.S. Department of State, although he is not specific. He noted on October 22, 1948, some months before the Budapest festival, that Baker had reported on the International Youth Conference in London, as distinct from students, making it clear that Baker’s reporting activities were not limited to the Budapest festival in 1949. (H/NSA (Box 33) .
  • 1951 Berlin: The files at the National Archives and Records Administration are extensive re the U.S. planning for a counter festival in West Berlin since the High Commission of Germany. John J. McCloy and his assistant, Shepard Stone, played central roles. A special “August Committee” coordinating committee had British and French representation.
    • In 1951, Harvard student Gerome Goodman portrayed his decision to go to the East German World Youth Festival as a spontaneous act, but, in fact, he contacted U.S. authorities in West Berlin beforehand; see NARA 800.4614/10-1751 October 17, 1951 B. R. Shute, Director of Intelligence, HICOG Frankfurt re George [sic] Goodman.
    • Time magazine covered the 1951 Berlin festival and counter festival. See, for example, August 20, 1951, and August 31, 1951. Time claimed that 50,000 people each day took the opportunity to visit the Western sector of Berlin, and that 1,590 people asked for asylum. 8/31/51
  • 1953 Bucharest: In August 1955 NATO established a “Joint Working Group on Information Policy and Cultural Co-operation, World Youth Festival in Bucharest,” and has declassified several documents available in the NATO archives. An August 25, 1953 report, for example, concluded: “Competent observers discerned no evidence that the Festival was winning over Rumanians.”  Despite this conclusion, the CIA stepped up preparations for the 1957 Moscow World Youth Festival.

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