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A Brief History of Servas

In 1949 a group called "Peacebuilders" was initiated at a folk high school in Denmark by Bob Luitweller, an American conscientious objector, and his friends. They were deeply concerned about world peace and wanted to prevent a catastrophe like World War 11 from ever happening again. Their aim was to work actively for peace, with other peace movements and institute a work ‑ study ‑ travel system that would make it possible for people of various nations to make visits to each other's homes. To accomplish these aims a network was established of people who shared these goals and who would offer free hospitality for like~ minded people.

Within a few years the movement had taken root in a number of countries. Lists were circulated of those who were willing to open their doors to people travelling within the system. Working committees had been set up. At the first international meeting in 1952 it was decided to change the name to "Servas" (an Esperanto word meaning "serve").

In 1972 it was resolved to establish "Servas International" as an organization with a registered seat in Switzerland. Statutes were drawn up providing for an executive committee of international officers and regional coordinators to be elected at regular international conferences. The United Nations placed "Servas International" on its roster of non-governmental organisations in 1973.