Willem A. Visser ‘t Hooft
The Future of Peace
Gerhard Rein was a youth delegate from Germany to the 3rd Assembly of the World Council of
Churches in 1961 in New Delhi, subsequently attending many WCC meetings as a journalist. He
currently lives in Berlin. On 1 July 1985, he conducted the last interview given by the WCC’s ﬁrst
general secretary, Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft.
This is an edited translation of an address given on 20 July 2017, the 73rd anniversary of
the bomb plot against Adolf Hitler, at the Adam von Trott Foundation in Imshausen,
Germany. It recalls the contacts of Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft, the ﬁrst general secretary of
the World Council of Churches, with the German resistance during the Second World War,
discusses the relevance of their vision of the post-war future to contemporary politics, and
highlights the signiﬁcance of Visser ’t Hooft for the ecumenical movement.
Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft, World Council of Churches, ecumenical movement, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, Adam von Trott
As far as I am concerned, the Dutch theologian Willem A. Visser ’t Hooft is the most
signiﬁcant unknown person in Germany. There is no other person for whom I have
more respect. In 1961, I was sent by the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) to the
New Delhi assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) as one of their three
youth delegates. As a result, my life changed completely. From being a naive and rather
pious young man, I became a critical citizen and critical Christian. I discovered the
world. I no longer felt boxed in. I found diversity instead of monotony. The ecumenical
movement became the place where I felt at home.
I will never forget how surprised and happy I was to discover that there is a “Visser ’t
Hooft House” on the Imshausen estate. I do not know of any other building in Ger-
many that has been named after him.
(2018) World Council of Churches. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.