Willem Visser 't Hooft

Willem Visser 't Hooft
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F023138-0019, Frankfurt, Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels.jpg
Willem Adolph Visser 't Hooft

(1900-09-20)20 September 1900
Died4 July 1985(1985-07-04) (aged 84)
Spouse(s)Henrietta Visser 't Hooft
Main interests

Willem Adolph Visser 't Hooft (20 September 1900 – 4 July 1985) was a Dutch theologian who became the first secretary general of the World Council of Churches in 1948 and held this position until his retirement in 1966.


Visser 't Hooft was born in Haarlem, in the Netherlands and in his early adult years, was involved in the Dutch student Christian movement and soon became involved internationally. In 1925, while on his first trip to the United States with John R. Mott, he became interested in the "social gospel" movement.[1]

He wrote his doctoral dissertation on it at the University of Leiden in 1928.[1] From October 1929 (vol. 22, no. 4) through the third quarter, 1939 (vol. 32, no. 3), he served as or of The Student World, a quarterly magazine published in Geneva by the World's Student Christian Federation. The magazine's motto was Ut Omnes Unum Sint.

Visser 't Hooft was active in the resistance against Nazism.[1] His apartment in Geneva, Switzerland became the meeting place for members of the German Resistance against the Third Reich between March and April 1944.[2] Hilda Monte and Hannah Bertholet were among the 15-16 people from countries all over Europe who met to discuss international resistance to Nazism.[2]

In 1938, Visser 't Hooft was named the first secretary general of the WCC, though he was only 38 at the time.[1] He wrote 15 books in several different languages and numerous articles and some 50,000 letters.[1]


Visser 't Hooft on the cover of Time (December 8, 1961)

In 1961, Time magazine did a cover story on Visser 't Hooft[3] and the World Council of Churches.[4]

In 1967, een christelijke HBS met 5-jarigen cursus school in Leiden was renamed and called after Visser 't Hooft, the (Christelijk Lyceum Dr. W.A. Visser 't Hooft).[5]

Decorations and awards[]

Selected literary works[]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Visser 't Hooft chronology". World Council of Churches. 2000. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b Frédéric Stephan, Ideas about Europe in the German and French Resistance to National Socialism from 1933/40 to 1945 (PDF) Dissertation in two files (abstract in English at the end of file 2), pp. 72-73 University of Stuttgart, Faculty of Humanities. Retrieved July 9, 2010 (in German)
  3. ^ "Time Magazine Cover: Willem Visser't Hooft - Dec. 8, 1961". Time. 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Religion: The Ecumenical Century". Time. 8 December 1961. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Visser 't Hooft Lyceum: schoolhistorie" (in Dutch). July 29, 2009. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2021.

Further reading[]