In 1948 an American conscientious objector, Bob Luitweiler, and a group of friends in Denmark set up an organisation called ‘Peacebuilders.’ (see film: In memory of Bob Luitweiler – founder of Servas).
Their idea was to work for peace, to make contact with other peace movements, and to create a work-study-travel program. By opening their doors for like-minded people and offering hospitality they showed ‘the way towards peace’ to people of all nationalities, religions, political ideas, ages or cultural backgrounds.
The first hosts were found in Denmark. Within a few years the movement had taken root in a number of other countries. Working committees were being set up and lists of people willing to open their doors to people travelling within the network were being circulated.
At the first international meeting in Germany in 1952 it was decided to change the name to SERVAS meaning ‘We Serve’ (peace) in Esperanto.
In 1972 SERVAS International was founded, as an umbrella organization.
In 1973, The United Nations placed Servas on its roster of non-governmental organisations .
Now, after almost 70 years, SERVAS continues to grow and welcomes new countries on every international congress. At this moment more than 119 countries have joined, with more than 14.000 members.