‘Youth of the world, unite so that you may live’: Youth, internationalism, and the Popular Front in the World Youth Congress Movement, 1936–1939

Peace & Change, Volume 46, Issue 3, Page 269-285, July 2021.


During the Popular Front era (1934–1939), communists and liberals participated in new arenas of ideological contact through civil society. Among these was the World Youth Congress Movement (WYCM), an organization that embodied the convergence of three powerful forces of the 1930s: youth, internationalism, and the Popular Front. Although liberal internationalists initiated the WYCM, the involvement of communists drew criticism from socialists, conservatives, and fascists. While historians have traditionally described it as a communist front, the WYCM deserves reconsideration in light of new understandings of youth activism in the 1930s. In tracing the evolution of the movement, this study illustrates how the WYCM served as a space in which liberals and communists coordinated and competed to mobilize youth in the struggle for peace and cooperation. In youth, these groups found a shared interest that allowed them to paper over their contradictions, but only as long as their higher-order interests aligned.

This was originally published on Wiley: Peace & Change: Table of Contents.