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World Council of Churches Archive

The Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center is now making available to researchers an archive consisting of the documents in Turkey belonging to the World Council of Churches based in Geneva.

The archive, titled Conseil Oeucuménique des Eglises – World Council of Churches (AB), covers the period from 1950 to 1980, and comprises 472 folders dealing with the ecumenical assistance provided to refugees arriving in Turkey. They have been catalogued under three separate headings: “refugees,” “personnel,” and “correspondence.” A few documents dating back to an earlier period concern the assistance given by the Union of Evangelical Congregational Churches in Bulgaria and the United Church Board for World Ministries in the US.

Under the heading “refugees,” are separate folders for every refugee, classified by name. Each folder includes personal information forms concerning the refugee and family members, information about the refugee’s occupation, health reports, documents indicating the reasons for seeking asylum, and the receipts of financial assistance provided by the World Council of Churches.

Mr. Kolio Sratieff Georgieff'e ait kişisel bilgiler, yazışmalar ve göçmen formu

Records of individuals going to or coming from Switzerland as well as documents concerning the living conditions in shelters or foyers are also included under this heading. In addition, the documents filed under “refugees” reveal that the World Council of Churches did not provide assistance exclusively to refugees; it also offered aid to non-Muslim minorities living under financial duress in Turkey.

Mr. Habib Ayral'a ait personel kayıtlarının tutulduğu dosyadan iş durumunu bildirir belge

Under the heading “personnel,” are folders related to the personnel employed by the World Council of Churches. The folders contain work application forms and similar documents, records sent to certain employees concerning their service in Turkey, procedures regarding the employment of Turkish workers, and documents dealing with the recruitment of personnel.  

Dostluk Evi'ne sığınan mültecilerin listesi.All communication with official institutions is filed under the heading  “correspondence.” This includes records of the removal of refugee status or the deportation of refugees.

By shedding light on the life stories of immigrants from the Balkans who sought refuge in Turkey after World War II, the archive both constitutes a new source for researchers interested in the recent history of Turkey and the Balkans and contributes to the microhistory of the area.