The Sixth World Festival (1957) by Liam Sullivan and Chase Weiland

The Iron Curtain developed through 40 years of harsh communist leadership. It blocked the world from viewing what was happening during Stalin’s reign. The 6th world festival for youth and students was an opportunity for eyes around the world to view not only Russia but how a communist nation could function. This short broadcast gives a thorough overview of the festival and its historical significance in Russian and World history. This report is based on primary and secondary sources as well as the information provided by Russian Historian, Natasha Comerford.


British Pathe. “Closing Of The Sixth World Youth Festival (1957)” YouTube video, 3:12. April 13, 2014.

Cash, Tony. “Moscow Summer Nights: Impressions of the 1957 International Youth Festival.” East-West Review: Journal of Great Britain-Russia 14, no 1 (2015): 13-16.

Egorov, Boris. “How the Soviet Union Discovered Jeans and Rock-n-Roll.” Russia Beyond, 28 July 2019, Editors. “Nikita Khrushchev.” A&E Television Networks, November 9, 2009.

Ilic, Melanie, and Jeremy Smith. Soviet State and Society Under Nikita Khrushchev. Routledge, 2009.

Jeffery-Wall, Rowan. “Cracks in the Curtain: The 1957 Moscow Youth Festival.” Explorations in History, 9 May 2018,

Ludolph, Emily. “How Folk Rock Helped Crack the Iron Curtain.” The Week – All You Need to   Know About Everything That Matters, The Week, 4 Nov. 2017,
Our Video:

The History of Pugachev Discussion Leaders by Liam Sullivan and Chase Weiland

Pushkin’s retelling of the Pugachev Rebellion flows like a story. He introduces the Yaik Cossack clans first and tells the story from a third person point of view. The chapters are broken up into specific points in time. The rebellion was due to an accumulation of issues the Yaik Cossack clan faced during their transition as Russain citizens. Pugachev led the rebellion into many pillages and attacks on villages throughout Russia. His rebellion frightened citizens in Moscow which led Catherine the Great to be on high alert. His rebellion left a lasting impact on poor citizens, serfs, and other enthic groups. Although the rebellion was quelled in the end, complete order of all cossacks was a long road. The rebellion still rang in their ears. 

Pushkin’s retelling of this history allows for a lot of questions to be asked both about his style of writing and the rebellion itself. Here are a few questions that we have: 

  • How is Catherine portrayed throughout the novel? 
  • Why did Pushkin spend time introducing the history of the Yaik Cossacks? Why is it important? 
    • What is the importance of detailing all of their grievances?  
  • Do you think that Mikhelson was obsessed with catching Pugachev? Or just passionate about protecting his country? 
  • On page 37 and on, Pushkin writes that Pugachev had no absolute authority. What is the importance of this? How did this impact how the rebellion continued, if at all? How did Pugachev feel about this? 
  • Throughout Mikhelson’s military campaign he allows people he had captured to join his ranks, do you think this was a smart move? Why or why not?
    • Who do you think had the higher level of military strategy, Mikhelson or Pugachev?

The Secret Speech and its Intentions

The Secret Speech was meant to sway public opinion into de-Stalinization; however, “it was an unmitigated disaster” (Jones 42). The speech was meant to slowly integrate into society, top-down, to transform the public idea of Stalin and his ‘cult’. Unfortunately, the speech dissemination was not slow, and it was met with distress, outrage, and shock. Jones writes, the speech dissemination “might have been intended to minimize disruption and controversy, but it in fact provoked frenzied speculation and frustration” (Jones 42). The way the speech was written was to invoke Leninist ideas while sharing the dark past of Stalin. I want to question why the authors wrote the speech in that way. Jones mentions that even the best speakers could get the speech wrong, claiming that different voice inflections could conjure a harsh reaction. Why did the authors of the Secret Speech write it in such a way to avoid as much confrontation as they could? In the speech, Nikita Khrushchev refers back to Lenin in many paragraphs to compare the two leaders and their ideologies. Why were Lenin’s ideals so important to mention in this speech? Lastly, the speech made its way into the public rapidly and caused anti-Stalinist reactions amongst the public. Was this what the writers of the speech were intending? Why or why not?