World Youth Festival

Yesterday I was cataloguing a folder of material in the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) collection with the title ‘Juveniles’.  This folder contained a real mix of material, including a section on the first ‘World Youth Festival’ in 1947, in Czechoslovakia.  The ‘World Youth Festival’ section of papers was such a wonderfully optimistic section centred around an event founded as a response to the horrors experienced by so many during the Second World War.

The file contains correspondence and reports regarding the planning of the festival.  The reason it is in the NUWT Collection is that they sent a representative to the meetings.  This representative reported back from a meeting of the Festival Committee that she had ‘expressed the interest of the NUWT and their willingness to help in any way possible’. (UWT/D/28A/2)

The intention of the Festival is best expressed in the header on the poster in the image and in the aims stated below in another pamphlet in the folder:

“The Festival will symbolise:

  • the lasting friendship of young people of all countries, all races, all creeds, in the cause of peace and the United Nations.
  • their co-operation and understanding of each others problems and aspirations, and mutual aid of each others needs.
  • their determination to build a better and happier future


Poster advertising the ‘World Youth Festival’, Ref UWT/D/28A/2

Events planned for the festival included a drama and film festival, sports competitions , music , lectures and discussions, and exhibitions.  Another prime example of the enthusiasm and optimism surrounding this event was the competition for an International Youth Song.  The aim of the competition is to find a song which will express “The ideas of democratic youth of today; the joy and enthusiasm of youth; the sincere desire of all youth for better understanding and peace throughout the world”.

It was really enjoyable to catalogue material which was so positive about the ‘youth of today’, that is, the youth of the time, particularly when the next file I catalogued was all to do with the increase in juvenile delinquency and worries over the behaviour of children during and after the second world war.

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