Regional Meeting of the Friends of Caux 1 June

70 years of Caux: meet the pioneers

Friends of Caux


“The atmosphere was electric” – “I yodeled for Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman”

About 30 people came together in Geneva to reminisce on the first days of the Foundation in 1946 when the former Caux-Palace hotel became the international conference center it is still today.



Most of them remembered the incredible atmosphere of the time. People were determined to make a change by opening a centre for reconciliation for Europe in Switzerland, country that had been spared by WWII.

Many spoke of the deplorable state the Caux Palace was in as they first bought it and how they had to clean and reform it in just a matter of months before the first international conference started. Those who were part of the cleaning teams remember that it took them days to clean the floors, “we had to clean our room in order to sleep in it”.

First time Buchman came to Caux the only thing he asked was “where are the Germans?” – we could not rebuild Europe without the Germans.

“It was the first time after the war that a German delegation participated in an international forum.  I remember that as they walked in, we greeted them with a song we had learned in German “es muss alles anders werden” – it was such an electric moment.”

Many also described what they remembered of Buchman: he was a visionary but he was also very practical to organize meetings and initiatives.

Many talked of their memories of the first times they met Americans and how their world views were broadened “it was all very exciting- through them we discovered the power of music and of theatre”.

“In Caux I found the courage to really listen to my interior voice, and trust my intuitions. That is something I also shared as a nurse to my colleagues”.

Cornelio Sommaruga also talked of his first impressions of Caux and how he accompanied the change of name from Moral Re-amarment to “Initiatives of Change” as President of the Foundation in 2001.  

Barbara Hintermann, Secretary General of the CAUX-IofC Foundation concluded the meeting by thanking all those present and by expressing her appreciation for the many stories shared during the afternoon. She noted that of course many things have changed since 1946 but the essential remains:  the four values, the time for reflection, the importance of storytelling and the community service.

The afternoon was also an important moment for the current team of the Foundation, to remember how it all started and to be reinforced in their motivation to bring positive change in this world.


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