Browse results

• Languages used: English, German, French, Italian, Latin • MARC records are available Accounts of travel are a popular and accessible source for research on historical relations between “East” and “West” and are attractive for specialists and non-specialists alike. In the pre-modern period a large number of such accounts were published all over Europe. Predominantly covering the Ottoman Empire, the collection also stretches into Ethiopia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, North Africa, and of course Iran.
The present collection, World Council of Churches: Relations with the Roman Catholic Church, makes available a section of the ecumenical archives covering the period 1948-1992. These archives are of great interest and frequently consulted by researchers working on the history of the ecumenical movement. The different sections contain, among others, correspondence with Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Bea and the Community of Taizé.
A few examples of cooperation between WCC and RCC are: jointly sponsored studies on “common witness and proselytism”, “catholicity and apostolicity”, “towards a confession of the common faith”; Roman Catholic membership in the Commission on Faith and Order; the setting up by the RCC of consultative relations with the Commission on world Mission and Evangelism and the Christian Medical Commission; the joint preparation of material for use in the Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; the concern for development and peace by the joint Committee on Society, Development and Peace (SODEPAX); the full participation of the RCC in regional, national and local councils of churches.
Examples of ecumenical collaboration are: the various bilateral agreements on doctrinal points; the interconfessional translation of the Bible under the joint inspiration and guidance of the United Bible Societies and the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate; the development and the understanding of the notion of the unity of the church in terms of conciliar fellowship; the exploration of the possibility of membership for the RCC in the WCC.

The documents in the archives consist of correspondence, personal notes, press cuttings, reports and unpublished material. Records are divided into five sections:
1. General documentation
2. Roman Catholic Church
3. Council Vatican II
4. Joint Working Group
5. Sodepax

See also: World Council of Churches Online: World War II Era Records
World War II Era Records of the World Council of Churches

Historical background
The documents in this collection form a subset of the World Council of Churches archives dating from 1932 to 1957. They were assembled hurriedly and in a very provisional form during the “dark days” of the war by an administration just being born and still in the making. Under such chaotic conditions, some elements were inevitably lost and the original order of the records was difficult to reconstruct. Yet a dramatic story is revealed here, the story of the fledgling ecumenical movement’s thought, policy, and activities in the face of the power of Nazi Germany.
The ecumenical movement represents the effort of churches divided for centuries to re-establish contact with each other, to rediscover their common heritage, to explore possibilities for collaboration, to react in situations of crisis, and to find a new place within society by participating in the foundation of a new world community. To achieve these ends, the churches founded many organizations, including the International Missionary Council in 1910, the Life and Work movement in 1925, and the Faith and Order movement in 1927. In 1938, the Life and Work and Faith and Order movements came together to form the World Council of Churches, which was officially inaugurated in Amsterdam in 1948. Today the World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of churches from different traditions: Orthodox (Oriental and Eastern Orthodox), Anglican, Old Catholic, most mainline Protestant churches (Moravian, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist), the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Quakers, Church of the Brethren), and some evangelical churches (like Baptist and Pentecostal). Although the Roman Catholic Church is not a member, it participates as a member of the Commission on Faith and Order and sends official observers to all major meetings, such as the general assemblies.
During the Second World War, the World Council of Churches in Process of Formation was instrumental in smuggling several hundred Jews across the borders into Switzerland, actively helped by courageous and inventive young French workers affiliated with CIMADE (Comité Inter-Movement Auprès Des Evacués). Reflecting on this era, Dr. W. A. Visser ‘t Hooft, then General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, wrote "… as I look back on these attempts to help the Jews during the war years, I feel far from proud. I know that I should have done a great deal more."
Not all the sources testifying to this period have been preserved, but what remains is gathered in this collection.

Sections
In 2013 the WCC Archives moved in the newly arranged "Espace Archives", located in the west wing of the former Library premises in the backyard of the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva. The WCC Library united its collections at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, near Geneva. The WCC archives are divided into many different sections, reflecting the various bodies that have been active in the ecumenical scene during the 20th century. The records of the International Missionary Council and the General Correspondence Archives of the World Council of Churches’ General Secretariat, previously published on microfiche by BRILL/IDC Publishers, are examples of such sections.
The present collection is the first collection from the WCC that is made available electronically. Originally on microfiche, the collection covers the period from 1932 to 1957. The documents consist of newspapers, press clippings, press releases, telegrams, correspondence, minutes, manuscripts, and personal notes. The boxes are organized by 16 countries, mostly European (Austria, Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Yugoslavia), but also the United States of America, Colombia, and Israel, as well as China and Indonesia. Records relating to Germany account alone for thirty boxes.

Scholarly relevance
These archives have been studied by historians of the Bergier Commission, a commission set up to investigate the role of Switzerland during the Second World War, and many individual scholars. The collection includes correspondence and personal letters of such notable individuals as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, George Bell, Hans Schönfeld, Karl Barth, James McDonald, Georges Casalis, Adolf Freudenberg, Martin Niemöller, Otto Dibelius, Gerhart Riegner, Marc Boegner, and Willem Adolf Visser 't Hooft. The archives document not only the issues and events of the War, but also the beginning years of the World Council of Churches.
The material in this collection is of high value for researchers from different disciplines, such as political and historical sciences as well as church history, theology, ethics, and ecumenical studies. Churches from different parts of the world, like China, Israel, or Colombia, might find material here that help to interpret their own history, by original documents from their own offices and individuals as well as by documented views from other churches and ecumenical bodies.
As Dr. Visser 't Hooft wrote: "The war came. And at first it seemed as if it would at least mean that the clock of ecumenical history would be definitely set back. The staff became smaller and smaller. Many plans had to be cancelled. But right in the midst of war the tide turned. What new contacts between the churches lost in frequency, they gained in intensity and depth. The war did not weaken the council. On the contrary."

Pierre Beffa (former Director of the World Council of Churches Library), revised by Fernando Enns, Professor of (Peace-) Theology and Ecumenical Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

See also: World Council of Churches Online: Relations with the Roman Catholic Church

This publication came about with support from the Kenneth Scott Latourette Fund, Yale Divinity School Library.
• Dates (inclusive): 1944-1967 • Languages used: predominantly Russian • EAD finding aids are available • Location of originals: Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI), Moscow Artek’s Archive reflects the recreation camp’s history in the period between 1944 and 1967. It contains government documents on Soviet social and health policies, administrative, medical and financial records, transcripts of meetings, materials on educational and ideological work carried out in the camp statistical reports, food rations and provision standards, letters from Soviet and foreign children, diaries etc. These documents provide an insight into everyday life and mentality of Soviet children. The archive is a valuable resource for a wide circle of researchers in such fields as sociology, cultural studies, philology and political history. All earlier records were lost during the Second World War when Artek was under German occupation.