International Centre (Geneva)

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The International Centre in Geneva Switzerland was a location for Theosophical activities in Europe, affiliated with the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India. It was directed initially by Dr. Anna Kamensky. She wrote, "the aim of the International Center is to lay the unshakeable foundation of universal brotherhood under every activity operating in and from Geneva."[1]

The initial idea for the centre came from Margaret Cousins:

"She delivered a paper at the congress of the European Theosophical Federation in Brussels in 1928 on the importance of creating an international Theosophical center in Geneva, where in addition to the League of Nations as many as seventy-seven other scientific and cultural societies and associations were located. The Council of the Federation decided to open such a center. To implement this proposal, a committee of seven people was appointed, among them Anna Kamensky and the General Secretary of the Swiss Section, Mrs. Rolle. After Mrs. Cousins returned to India, the responsibility for creating and leading the Center fell on Anna Kamensky.

A main task in establishing the Center was, first to provide favorable conditions for meetings of social activists from the East and the West, and second, to created a neutral platform for focusing on world problems in the light of Theosophy. With this aim, the best speakers from various European centers wereinvitied and for the duration of their stay in Geneva were offered the hospitality of the Center, which was operating in headquarters shared with the Swiss Theosophical Section. Along with the visiting speakers, Swiss social activists and scholars delivered papers and lectures.[2]

In 1932, The Theosophical Messenger reported:

Inspite of the handicap of limited financial resources this center, under the direction of Dr. Anna Kamensky as president, has been able to present quite a number of very successful lecture series in Geneva, as well as several tea-parties which attracted international workers. Because of its unique location in the city of the League of Nations, a recommendation is going to the T. S. General Council proposing that Geneva shall be regarded as a world center subsidiary to Adyar.

The Geneva Center is dependent upon voluntary contributions and it is hoped that every one who can will contribute in order that this splendid international work may be accomplished.[3]

In 1937, The American Theosophist gave a progress report:

This Center, so long under the care of Madame Kamensky, has now been taken over by the General Council of the Society. Although located at Geneva, the headquarters of the Swiss Section, it has always been an international rather than a Sectional activity, and the General Council has now formally accepted responsibility for it.

The practical work of the Center is to be in charge of a committee of seven, and the President is to appoint a representative in charge. The General Council appropriated $500 toward the expenses of the Center, the balance needed to be raised by the committee.

The General Council also appointed an international committee, of which your general Secretary Sidney A. Cook is one of the ex officio members. This committee has the responsibility of supporting and maintaining interest in this important Center. Those who are interested in the maintenance of a representative Theosophical activity in this heart of Europe should rememember our own responsibility and send contributions to the General Secretary at Wheaton. [4]

Later that year, A. J. Hamerster was appointed by George S. Arundale to head the center, as a successor to Anna Kamensky.[5]

Additional resources

  • Pisareva, Elena Fedorovna. The Light of the Russian Soul. Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 2008. This memoir, translated by George M. Young, gives a great deal of information about the life of Anna Kamensky.

Notes

  1. "Theosophy At Geneva" The Theosophical Messenger 18.12 (December 1930), 281.
  2. Elena Fedorovna Pisareva, The Light of the Russian Soul (Wheaton, Illinois: Theosophical Publishing House, 2008), 99-100.
  3. "Progress at the International Theosophical Center at Geneva," The American Theosophist 25.3 (March, 1937), 70.
  4. "International Centre, Geneva," The American Theosophist 25.3 (March, 1937), 70.
  5. "International Center (Geneva)" in Theosophy World.