Joni Krekola: Maailma kylässä 1962. Helsingin nuorisofestivaali [The world comes to visit in 1962. Helsinki’s youth festival]

3 August 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Maailma kylässä 1962. Helsingin nuorisofestivaali
[The world comes to visit in 1962.  Helsinki’s youth festival]
Helsinki: Like, 2012. 310 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-01-0757-4
€ 27.10, paperback

In the summer of 1962, in the middle of the Cold War, a week-long youth festival was held in Helsinki. Behind the scenes of the event a propaganda war between East and West was being waged, something not uncommon at such festivals, which were the venue for meetings of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY, founded 1907). The main organisers were the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY, 1945), generally regarded as a Soviet propaganda agency, and the International Union of Students (IUS, 1946). The Finnish government’s initially lukewarm attitude to the event turned more positive as a result of the influence of the the Soviet Union. Helsinki hosted some 12,000 guests from all over the world at the ‘Peace and Friendship’ festival, with a couple of thousand Finns taking part. To Finns, the festival introduced colourful and exotic foreign life, a novelty in the country at the time. Resistance to the festival sparked youth riots which were suppressed by the police, and a smaller shadow event was organised mainly with CIA funding. Although the press condemned the unrest, it kept fairly silent about the festival itself. According to Joni Krekola, however, it was a success; in his interesting book he studies a major event that historians have overlooked, its diverse programme, its side- and after-effects, and its wider impact on society.
Translated by David McDuff

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