Werkgroep Kairos

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All (10) | Documents (1) | Photographs (3) | Buttons (2) | Posters (3) | Video (1)

Alternate Names: Working Group Kairos, Stichting Kairos
Duration: 1970 - 2004
Location: Utrecht, Netherlands


Werkgroep Kairos (Working Group Kairos or Kairos study group), an anti-apartheid organization based on Christian principles, was established in 1970 by Cor Groenendijk, who subsequently became the organization's chairman. It was renamed Stichting Kairos (Kairos Foundation), date unknown. J. Verkuyl and Erik van den Bergh held influential positions in the organization. Originally Kairos was a support organization for the Christian Institute that Beyers Naudé had established inside South Africa in 1963. Kairos became one of the three largest anti-apartheid organizations in the Netherlands. It worked with the AABN (Anti-Apartheids Beweging Nederland or Anti-Apartheid Movement Netherlands) and the KZA (Komitee Zuidelijk Africa or Southern Africa Committee) to pressure the government and corporate industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Kairos advocated a program of disinvestment from South Africa, as advocated by the World Council of Churches in 1972. A particular focus was a Shell and Kairos was active in the international campaign to boycott the oil company. From 1973, Kairos representatives authorized by shareholders such as churches and monastic orders attended the Koninklijke Shell shareholders meeting every year to urge the company to leave South Africa. Following the proclamation of an oil embargo by the UN General Assembly in 1975, this cause became a focal plan of action for Kairos. In 1980 Kairos and the KZA founded the Shipping Research Bureau, which tracked international oil transports to call attention to any supplies bound for South Africa. Other campaigns were aimed at forced removals, detentions, torture in detention, the death sentence, children, conscription and the activities of the security forces. Kairos' work was supported by many of the Dutch churches and there was co-operation from church circles in Southern Africa. Extensive contacts were made with black South African clerics studying in the Netherlands. Kairos mobilized attention on the disempowered and influenced public opinion through campaigns and publications. Through Kairos, many South African organizations channeled information to international organizations and the media. From 1996-1997, Kairos researched the assault and torture of political prisoners in the 1960s and 1970s for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After the end of apartheid in South Africa and the first democratic elections in 1994, Kairos focused on rebuilding. Kairos largely ceased activities in 2002 and completely closed 2004.

Organizational Archive


Title: Kairos Collection (Werkgroep Kairos)
Time Span: 1970 - 2002
Media: 36 linear meters
Description: This collection relates to Werkgroep Kairos (Working Group Kairos), whose main archives are located at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. The organization was renamed Stichting Kairos (Kairos Foundation), date unknown. Much of the material consists of copies with some exceptions. In co-operation with a large number of non-governmental organizations involved in human rights issues an extensive collection of reports, publications, pamphlets, telegrams and telexes, newsletters and letters was collected. There are a few letters from and to Kairos, but the bulk of the collection is Kairos' research and resource material. Kairos also developed a database and researched reports on detention, torture and deaths in detention for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Some ephemera have been separated including audio-visual material, photos, posters and campaign buttons, stickers and postcards. In 2002, the Kairos Foundation closed its doors. Its resource and research material was then donated to the University of the Witwatersrand.
Housed At: University of the Witwatersrand, William Cullen Library, Historical Papers
Location: Private Bag X1, P.O. Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Restrictions: Affidavits that have not been published have associated restrictions. Affidavits in the Namibia sub-inventory are embargoed until 2010. The Kairos database compiled for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is subject to restricted access conditions.
Phone: +27 (0) 11 717 1940
Related Website: http://web.wits.ac.za/Library/HistoricalPapers.htm

Organizational Archive


Title: Werkgroep Kairos (Working Group Kairos)
Time Span: 1969 – 2002 (includes a little earlier dating back to 1963 and later material dating to 2004)
Media: 19 meters
Description: Archive of Werkgroep Kairos which was based in Utrecht. The archive includes a vast collection of documentation, magazines and books. All these items combined provide an opportunity for exploring the anti-apartheid struggle in the Netherlands. This collection also features a wealth of primary material about campaigns in South Africa.
Housed At: International Institute of Social History
Location: Address for visitors: Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam Correspondence address: P.O. Box 2169, 1000 CD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Catalog/Finding Aid: view
Phone: +31-20-6685866
Reference Email: info@iisg.nl
Related Website: http://www.iisg.nl/