The Nordic Africa Institute

Church of Sweden Aid - Swedish National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation


After World War II many relief organizations were established to help the people in Europe to raise themselves up from the ruins. As there were twelve million European refugees who were Lutherans, the name given to this church related aid was Lutherhjälpen. The organization was formally the Swedish National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation. It was founded in Lund in southern Sweden in 1947. Through this church network a lot of aid was channeled to the reconstruction of Europe. From around 1960 more attention was given to Africa and southern Africa. In 1967 the director, Åke Kastlund, published a book after a trip to Namibia and South Africa in 1966: Travel through Black and White. The organization was at this time established as one of the biggest fund raising agencies for relief and development aid. Most of these efforts were coordinated with the Lutheran World Federation and World Council of Churches. The history of the organization has been published in Swedish: Björn Ryman, Lutherhjälpens första 50 år, 1997. There is an abbreviated English version, 125 pages, in Swedish Missiological Themes No 2, 1997 (may be ordered free).

The Church of Sweden Aid and Mission were located from 1978 in the same building in Uppsala and they had a common approach to the liberation movements such as ANC, SWAPO, ZANU and ZAPU. As a matter of fact most of their leadership visited this church office, the last one being Nelson Mandela in 1990. Before him Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe had been there in 1977 and 1978. In the photo archives there are photos from such occasions. Most of the photos though are from the field in Namibia and South Africa, where Swedish visitors have tried to depict everyday life, church life, liberation efforts during the hard years. Maybe these photos will be of most value in the future.

The Church of Sweden and other churches in Sweden, particularly the youth, were in the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle. Most of these efforts were made ecumenically or in different networks. The Christian Council of Sweden led the lobbying for a stop to investments in South Africa and Namibia. The Archbishop of Sweden, Olof Sundby, attended in 1975 the shareholder´s annual meeting of ASEA, now ABB, Sweden´s biggest manufacturer, and demanded that the industrialists stopped investments in southern Africa. This led to much debate and publicity.

From 1976 Lutherhjälpen supported the Asingeni Fund of SACC and much correspondence between the general secretaries concerns this secret fund. Desmond Tutu visited Sweden in 1979 and returned almost every year. There are several photos of him and his colleagues.

In 1973 the Annual Meeting of Lutherhjälpen was visited by Bishop Auala and his successor Kleopas Dumeni. Official correspondence has been kept from those days. In the preserved telexes much information was disseminated via the telex machine in Oniipa to Sweden and then made into press releases about shootings and harassments. Much of the correspondence concerns the printing press at Oniipa. As far as Namibia is concerned Lutherhjälpen is one of few organizations in Sweden in possession of so much information from Namibia during the struggle for freedom.

The biggest official church delegation visited Stockholm-Uppsala on the first Sunday of advent in 1985, when they also met the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Relations Committee. This was a high point in the advocacy for Namibia. As far as aid is concerned its high point was at Independence, when approximately 100 million Swedish crowns was spent on various refugee and reconstruction projects, mostly via the 3 R committee. In the following years less and less attention was given to Namibia, which is also seen in the materials in the archive. The high point of involvement was from 1966-1993, which also manifests itself in the archival material.

List of Chairmen and Directors of Lutherhjälpen:

Ryman, Björn Lutherhjälpen: Church of Sweden Aid 1947-1997, p. 197-198

Chairmen (bishops)
1947-56 Anders Nygren
1956-63 Elis Malmeström
1963-72 Bo Giertz
1972-78 Olof Sundby
1978-86 Helge Brattgård
1986-92 Henrik Svenungsson
1992-95 Tord Harlin

1947-56 Daniel Cederberg
1956-70 Åke Kastlund
1970-79 Ebbe Arvidsson
1979-85 Henrik Svenungsson
1985-89 Thorsten Månsson
1989-96 Margaretha Ringström

In the following series the most relevant documents concerning the liberation struggle of Namibia and South Africa are to be found. The codes refer to the archive catalog. Numbers attached to the code after the colon indicate the volume number.


[Series] Correspondence of the Director/Correspondence in general
[Volume] Telex general, incoming 1978-1979 (Allmän telex, inkommande)
[Volume] Telex general 1979-1980 (Allmän telex, inkommande)
[Volume] Telex general, outgoing 1977-1980 (Allmän telex, utgående)

[Series] Correspondence of the Director/Correspondence with foreign organisations
[Volume] Oshigambo, South West Africa
[Volume] WCC
[Volume] 1974
[Volume] 1973
[Volume] 1972 Director Carl-J. Hellberg
[Volume] 1966-1969 LWF/WM
[Volume] 1966
[Volume] 1966 A-I
[Volume] 1965 – Namibia/South Africa
[Volume] 1965 - Namibia
[Volume] South Africa
[Volume] 1974-1977

[Series] Correspondence of the Director/Correspondence with Swedish organisations
[Volume] 1978-1984 Ministry of Foreign Affairs
[Volume] Pretoria to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1981

[Series] Correspondence of the Director/Correspondence sorted according to countries
[Volume] 1973-1976
[Volume] 1982-1984
[Volume] Time-period unknown
[Volume] 1963-1965

[Series] Correspondence of the Information Department/General series
[Volume] Press releases from Lutherhjälpen concerning Namibia

[Series] Aid and Economic Department subject related documents/Aid projects dossiers
[Volume] Aid and Economical Department
[Volume] Aid projects 1979
[Volume] Aid projects 1979-1980
[Volume] LWF Reports Africa 1967-1970

[Series] Aid and Economic Department subject related documents/CDS-project dossier after 1967
[Volume] Missing Volumes
[Volume] 578 Pilot Development Project in Zululand
[Volume] 572 Electrical Plant for Rorkes Drift Village
[Volume] 510 Pilot Community Development Project in Zululand
[Volume] 494 Exhibition Hall in Rorkes Drift
[Volume] 468 Student Centre of Turfloop
[Volume] 338 Equipping of Ephangweni Handicraft Centre
[Volume] 275 Mapumulo Secondary School Hostels
[Volume] 264 Sinking of a Borehole at the Emmaus Lutheran Hospital in Winterton
[Volume] 151 Literacy Campaign for Bantus
[Volume] 248 Kindergarten in Katutura
[Volume] 1234 Operational and Development Budget of the Lutheran Medical Missions 1985-1987
[Volume] 1217 Martin Luther High School
[Volume] 1162 Legal Aid Fund 1985
[Volume] 1151 Martin Luther High School
[Volume] 1107 Oshigambo High School
[Volume] 1083 Workshop for ELCSA Project Administrators
[Volume] 596 Classrooms for Fine Arts School at ELC Art & Craft Centre at Rorkes Drift
[Volume] 654 Drinking Water Supply for Rural Areas of the ELCSA/ N. Diocese
[Volume] 674 Now Enon Water Supply in Genadenberg
[Volume] 1220 Extension of Ecumenical Centre in Durban (1988)
[Volume] 1116 Kwazamokuhle Diaconic Centre
[Volume] 1086 Community Advice Office in Northern Transvaal
[Volume] 1020 Subsidy to Goedverwacht Water Scheme
[Volume] 985 Bellville Project
[Volume] 984 Training of Leather Workshop Managers
[Volume] 980 Consultation on Leadership Training for Churches
[Volume] 957 Makgato Village School Reconstruction Project
[Volume] 956 Diaconic Fund for ELCA
[Volume] 951 Consultation on Development Work
[Volume] 869 Bambisanani Community Centre
[Volume] 771 Community Centre in Kimberley
[Volume] 763 CDS Project Request. Extension of Small Scale Industry at Wupperthal
[Volume] 715 Bambisanani Community Centre
[Volume] 712 Diaconic Fund for FELCSA
[Volume] 675 Handicraft Project in Kwasamokuhle
[Volume] 1082 Oniipa Power Supply Project
[Volume] 1060 Dormitory Block of Central Diocese Centre in Soweto
[Volume] 617 Kavango Adult Education Centre
[Volume] 597 Social and Diaconic Service of the ELC
[Volume] 574 Extension to Engela Adult Educational Centre
[Volume] 564 Defence Seminar
[Volume] 557 Residences for Hospital Staff in Ovamboland
[Volume] 556 Five Granaries with Grain Storage Room for Ovambokavango Districts
[Volume] 555 Agricultural Equipment for Kavango Bushmen Settlement
[Volume] 508 Rebuilding of the ELOC Printing Press in Oniipa and Construction of 5 small Bookshops
[Volume] 495 Telex/Offset Printing Machine for the ELOC
[Volume] 475 Education Fund for Namibia
[Volume] 437 Printing Press at Oniipa
[Volume] 372 Christian Centre in Windhoek
[Volume] 368 Student Dormitories at Engela Adult Education Institute
[Volume] 253 Agricultural Machinery Stations
[Volume] 252 Literature Programme
[Volume] 251 Engela Adult Education Institute
[Volume] 618 Teachers Houses at Oshigambo High School
[Volume] 628 Continuation of Christian Centre in Windhoek, 628 Council of Churches
[Volume] 629 Communication Workshop and Consultation
[Volume] 1056 Legal Aid/Diaconic Fund
[Volume] 1055/1108 Martin Luther High School
[Volume] 1054 Oshigambo High School 1983
[Volume] 1017 Council of Churches
[Volume] 978 Council of Churches
[Volume] 925 Reconstruction of ELOC Printing Plant II
[Volume] 918 Generator for Ongwedia Christian Education Centre
[Volume] 893 Vehicle Assistance for Rural Health Work and for Kavango Bushmen Settlements
[Volume] 867 Hostels at Otjiwarango, Gochas and Stampriet
[Volume] 865 Hoachanas Community Development Project
[Volume] 844 Council of Churches
[Volume] 838/864 Development Department of the CCN
[Volume] 795 Teachers Houses at Engela Adult Education Institute
[Volume] 713 Generator for Paulinum Seminary
[Volume] 712 Diaconic Fund for FELCSA
[Volume] 685 Ongwedia Christian Education and Conference Centre
[Volume] 250 Bushmen Settlement at Nkongo

[Series] Uncatalogued records concerning the liberation struggle
[Volume] Press Cuttings Namibia
[Volume] Press Extra 1973-1974
[Volume] Press Extra 1969-1972
[Volume] Old Newspapers
[Volume] Lutherhjälpen Africa regionalt LUCSA 1990-1993
[Volume] Lutherhjälpen Africa Regional EDICESA 1987-1992
[Volume] Regional Christian Councils AACC 1988-
[Volume] Namibia 1989
[Volume] Grant to Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) Diaconic Fund
[Volume] LWF/CDS 1985, Correspondence
[Volume] SIDA: Closed projects April 1983
[Volume] CDS Various
[Volume] Namibia 1975-1984
[Volume] Various documents Southern Africa Aug 1985
[Volume] Youth Project WCC LWF
[Volume] Regional Projects 1985 AACC
[Volume] Grants 1987
[Volume] General material from the WCC
[Volume] Aid reports from journeys and evaluationa Africa 1984-1994
[Volume] Namibia Documents about CCN 1986-1987
[Volume] Press releases 1969-1978
[Volume] Press releases 1979-1983
[Volume] Closed DMD-projects (Avslutade DMD-projekt Namibia) 1996
[Volume] Closed DMD-projects (Avslutade DMD-projekt Namibia) 1996
[Volume] The Church of Sweden Aid to South Africa and Namibia – Department of Aid
[Volume] Leadership Training for Churches in South Africa and Namibia 1982
[Volume] Church Pastors Salaries 1975 (1974-1976) Ovambokavango. Correspondence
[Volume] Southern Africa South Africa Asingeni remaining
[Volume] Southern Africa, South Africa, Asingeni 1982 – miscellaneous
[Volume] Asingeni reports 1982
[Volume] South Africa Asingeni Relief Fund – miscellaneous June 1, 1977 - December 31, 1978
[Volume] South Africa Christian Institute Investigation General
[Volume] The Chuch of Sweden Aid information press releases
[Volume] Nordic Namibia Action (Nordisk Namibiaaktion) 1989
[Volume] Various bilateral projects (Diverse bilaterala projekt) 1982
[Volume] Periodical Namibia
[Volume] Press releases from Lutherhjälpen
[Volume] Regional projects 1984


Archives of the Church of Sweden Central Office
[Kyrkokansliets arkiv]
SE-751 70 Uppsala

Visiting address: Sysslomansgatan 31, Uppsala
Telephone: +46 (0)18 16 95 00
Fax: +46 18 16 96 40
E-mail: External link, opens in new window.


Lutherhjälpen - Svenska Kyrkan:
Sysslomansgatan 4, Uppsala
SE-751 70 Uppsala
Telephone: +46 18 16 95 00

Country: Sweden
Period: 1947-1990
Church of Sweden Aid Lutherhjälpen Swedish National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation Namibia South Africa History Anti-apartheid movements Solidarity movements Liberation organizations Anti-racism movements Religious organizations Religious missions Missionaries Christianity World Council of Churches ANC SWAPO ZANU ZAPU Nelson Mandela Joshua Nkomo Robert Mugabe Olof Sundby ASEA ABB Lutherhjälpen Desmond Tutu