WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-12 > 1198412276
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] ROBERTSON: Edwin Hanson
Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2007 12:17:56 -0000
The Reverend Edwin Robertson
Last Updated: 2:54am GMT 17/12/2007
The Reverend Edwin Robertson , who has died aged 95, was an authority on
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian hanged by the Nazis in 1945 after
being implicated in the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler.
A Baptist, Robertson had entered the ministry before the Second World War.
During the war he took an interest in Germans who resisted Hitler, and
became friends with many German exiles as well as prisoners of war. From
1947 to 1949 he served, in the rank of brigadier, as head of the religious
affairs section of the Control Commission for Germany.
In this capacity he set up the religious broadcasting service, established
clergy training schemes and got to know many Christians opposed to Hitler
who had somehow managed to survive.
Inspired by the example of Bonhoeffer's activist Christianity, he went on to
translate and edit many collections of Bonhoeffer's writings and sermons,
helping to propagate the view that Christians should oppose evil through
Edwin Hanson Robertson was born to Scottish parents at Plaistow, east
London, on February 1 1912, the son of a ship's cooper. He recalled taking
part in the 1926 General Strike: "In those days we were expected to leave
school at 14 and scrounge whatever work we could get," he remembered.
He later studied Chemistry at West Ham Municipal College, and during the war
worked in oil research, developing improved fuel for Spitfire engines and
advising on the bombing of German oil refineries.
During the 1930s Robertson had trained for the Baptist ministry at Regent's
Park College, Oxford, and had taken up his first pastorate, at Luton, in
1938, before moving to St Albans. In 1949 he joined the BBC as assistant
head of religious broadcasting.
Over the next six years he helped to develop the Third Programme and became
a regular panellist on Any Questions?
In 1956 he went to Geneva as study secretary of the United Bible Societies
and consultant to the World Council of Churches and the International
>From 1964 to 1975 he served as executive director of the World Association
of Christian Broadcasting and, together with the Evangelical Alliance and
the Roman Catholic Church, set up the churches' advisory committee for local
Robertson wrote or translated more than 60 books. As well as his works on
Bonhoeffer and books on bible study, he wrote biographies of John Wycliffe,
Paul Schneider, Lord Tonypandy and George Bell, the wartime Bishop of
Chichester who was close to members of the German Christian resistance.
He returned to pastoral ministry in 1972 at Westbourne Park Baptist Church,
Paddington, and later Heath Street Church in Hampstead.
Though he was committed to religious activism, he deplored religious
fundamentalism and drew his friends from all denominations.
He was open-minded enough to renounce the pledge not to drink that he had
taken in his youth, and late in life became something of an expert on
vintage wines, presiding over the cellar at his club, the Arts Club. He was
made a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2005.
Edwin Robertson died on November 3. He married, in 1939, Ida Bates, with
whom he had three daughters and two sons.