BID FOR GERMANY
When, in early 1933, Moni von Cramon arrived back in Silesia from being with Buchman in America and Canada, she soon found that the local Nazis 'did not want to have me running my school because I was too Christian. They wanted me to run it for them on their lines, but I refused.'1 The school was closed and she took a house in Breslau, renting her own home to a family. Unknown to her, a daughter of this family was a Nazi informer with instructions to search the house. She found an anti-Nazi pamphlet which had been given to Frau von Cramon by a French woman in Geneva and which she had stuffed into a bookshelf. On its cover was a swastika with its points hacked off by an axe so that a simple cross remained. Correspondence with theologians was also found. News reached Frau von Cramon in Breslau that she was to be arrested.
Just at this moment a leader of the SS in Silesia, a childhood friend, arrived unannounced to ask Frau von Cramon a favour. He wanted to marry her husband's niece. Would she introduce him to the girl's family? Frau von Cramon told him her predicament, and he took the matter out of the hands of the local officials on the grounds that so serious a case could only be dealt with at Himmler's headquarters, where a friend of his was an adjutant. So, after a nerve-racking 250-mile drive to Berlin, Frau von Cramon suddenly found herself face to face with Himmler.
Himmler received her, standing, in his large study. He kept her standing at the other end of the room, while he consulted a file. Taking out of it a picture of Buchman, he said: Is this Dr Buchman, the leader of this movement with which you work, a Jew?'
'I don't know his ancestry, but I don't think so. I'll ask him,' she replied.
'Do you think he will tell you?'
'If he knows, why shouldn't he?'
'What is the relation between the Oxford Group and Jews?'
'I can't give an answer to that because the Oxford Group is not an organisation. It has no rules or statutes.'
'How often have you been in England this past year?' Himmler continued.
'Three times, I think.'
'You're wrong. Four times.'
Then he told her the exact state of her bank account and asked how she had got the money for these journeys. Frau von Cramon replied that she had sold a treasured possession, her grand piano. 'I have faith that God leads people and gives us what we need when we do what He wants us to do,' she added.
'I believe in God, too. I believe in miracles,' remarked Himmler seriously. I'm Party Member Number Two. We were seven men who had faith that this National Socialism ideology would win. Now we are the government. Isn't that a miracle?'
He said he would like to know more about what guidance from God meant and that they would talk again. Then he let her go. From that time she suspected that her phone was tapped and her mail opened.
Buchman had first met Moni von Cramon at Doorn, the ex-Kaiser's place of exile in Holland, in October 1931. Kaiser Wilhelm's initial refuge in Holland had been with a branch of the Bentinck family. Buchman was conducting a house-party in a Bentinck house near Doom. He and four German friends left visiting cards on the ex-Kaiser, and had therefore been invited to tea. The ex-Kaiser decided not to appear for the tea, and sent Frau von Cramon, as a well-known churchwoman, to vet the visitors' theological credentials.
'What kind of people are you?' she asked one of those with Buchman.
'I really don't know,' he replied. ('I took note of that,' commented Frau von Cramon later. 'I knew precisely what I was.') 'Frank, what are we exactly?'
Buchman replied, 'We are very ordinary people, but we want to put into modern language the truths which turned the early Christians into revolutionaries.'
That happened to be exactly what Frau von Cramon was wanting to do in the Church's youth work, so she bore the visitors away to her sitting room. 'There I put Buchman through a full theological examination. I was perfectly sure that my ideas were correct. It followed therefore that anything that differed was out of order. Dr Buchman survived the test, even if only perhaps with a "pass" mark,' she recalled.
Before leaving, Buchman asked her to attend the Oxford house-party in the following June. She at once said it was impossible, for three reasons. She had not the money to do so, her school would be in full session until July, and ('I tried to put this very modestly') she felt she had little to learn from the English or Americans on religious questions.
'Dr Buchman's response was a hearty laugh. He didn't seem to take me very seriously,' related Frau von Cramon.' "Oh, pardon me," he said. "I thought you were a Christian." Those were the very words this American said - to me! I forgave him immediately. He could not know that I was unusually active in all sections of church work, that I had actually often spoken from the pulpit and gave very good devotional talks. So I asked him, "And how could you know, Doctor, that I am not a Christian?"
'"Any person who already knows in the autumn what God wants him to do the following June is not living under the guidance of God," he replied. "And any person who is not living under God's guidance is no Christian." That hit home. I could think of no suitable reply. His words stayed with me, moving in my heart and mind in ever-growing circles.'
By next June Frau von Cramon's first two objections were unexpectedly removed. In May she was amazed to receive a letter from Buchman enclosing a return ticket to Oxford. Then, at exactly the time she was invited to travel, a scarlet fever epidemic closed her school for two weeks. She was a little ashamed of her third objection, and reasoned that she would at least be able to give those present a grounding in 'sound German-Evangelical pedagogy'.
This she did in a speech lasting an hour and a half, which caused almost all the audience but Buchman to leave the hall. She then told Buchman she must leave for home. 'Has God told you to leave?' he asked. She felt compelled to go to her room and try 'listening'. Only nonsense seemed to come. 'Genf- Geneva - Genève,' she wrote down, twice, and that was all. At tea she told this to Buchman, and repeated that she was leaving for Germany. He laughed and took from his pocket a printed invitation to League of Nations delegates to attend an Oxford Group meeting in Geneva in a week's time. Her name was on the list of those who would be there. 'God told us you would travel with us, but He always lets people do what they want. We'll take your name out,' he said. At that exact moment, Frau von Cramon was being paged with a telegram. It said, 'New case of scarlet fever. School remains closed. Return unnecessary.'
'My knees began to shake,' related Frau von Cramon. 'Could it be true that God really could speak to people? One week later I was standing on the platform in Geneva before the representatives of the League of Nations.'
By the time of her interview with Himmler, Frau von Cramon had worked with Buchman in a number of countries and had come to appreciate his concern for her own. His Swiss-German ancestry and his knowledge of the language - the only one other than English which he spoke - made him feel at home there. His early visit to von Bodelschwingh at Bethel had been one of the influences which led him to found the Overbrook hospice, and he had been in correspondence with the son, also Friedrich, since the father's death in 1910. During the 1914-18 war he had, at Mott's suggestion, visited Germans interned in India and Japan. After the Armistice, he had helped to feed needy students and families impoverished by war. In 1920 he wrote to Mrs Woolverton, 'The children are starving and dying. They have no cows or food to feed them with. I do not know when I have seen anything so pathetic.' This was when he had urged her to send three cows to Bethel.2
From 1920 his visits to Germany became almost annual. After one visit in 1923 he wrote, 'I come from the throes of a distrait world. I have sat with poor and rich, privileged and underprivileged. Some who were rich and privileged two years ago have scarcely enough to eat. My physician, who was one of the foremost in Germany, had a pound of sausage for a family of five the week I was there. In some families half the family spend a day in bed, while the others get enough to eat, and they go to bed next day while the others satisfy their hunger.'3
Buchman began holding house-parties of a more public nature from the mid-1920s. Loudon Hamilton recalled one in Potsdam in 1924, and after another there in 1927 Buchman wrote to Mrs Tjader, 'We have had a woman at the house-party who had to borrow clothes to come, a cigar maker and the wife of a former ADC to the ex-Kaiser.'4 In the autumn of 1928 a young German theologian, Ferdinand Laun, who was doing research on a Rockefeller scholarship at Oxford, met Buchman's work there. He gave up his academic career and devoted his full time between 1932 and the outbreak of World War II to establishing the Gruppenbewegung (Group Movement) in Germany.5 Local groups sprang up all over the country, house-parties became frequent and a number of Germans went to Oxford or Switzerland for training or travelled with Buchman in other countries.
By the late 1920s Germany was slipping increasingly into demoralisation and chaos. Mountainous inflation, unemployment which reached six million, and recurrent regional revolts kept the possibility of a revolution or civil war alive into the early thirties.
Hitler, meanwhile, gathered strength. He promised the people 'order, work and bread'. At first he did not present his ideas as a crude ideology of blood and race, but as a set of beliefs which would restore the German nation and which did not conflict with Christianity. In 1928 Hitler excluded from his party a man who too obviously wanted to replace Christianity by 'a German faith' and publicly declared, 'Our movement is effective Christianity. We shall not tolerate in our ranks anyone who hurts Christian ideas.'6 He reiterated this pledge on becoming Chancellor.7
Powerful groups were therefore prepared in those early years to wait and see how events developed, meanwhile giving Hitler their tacit or explicit support. The Catholic Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter of 10 June 1933: 'Precisely because authority occupies a quite special place in the Catholic Church, Catholics will not find it difficult to appreciate the new powerful movement of authority in the new German state and to subordinate themselves to it.'8 Karl Barth, who raised his voice at an early stage against Hitler, wrote after the war, 'In the first period of its power National Socialism had the character of a political experiment like others... It was right and proper for the time being to give the political experiment of National Socialism a trial.'9
Buchman took every chance, in the midst of his strenuous action in other parts of the world, to try and assess the new Germany. He first attempted to meet Hitler personally in January 1932. Passing through Munich, he applied for an interview and called at the Brown House to get any news of his appointment. There, on a desk in the office where he was put to wait, he saw an open telegram to Hitler's staff: 'By no means allow Buchman to see the Führer.' It was signed by one of the ex-Kaiser's sons, Prince August Wilhelm ('Auwi'), whom Buchman had befriended, helping him to sell some of his pictures at the depth of the post-war crisis. The interview was refused.
In the summer of 1932, prior to his first campaign in Canada, Buchman took some twenty young men and women to Germany on a brief reconnaissance. This was for many of them their first contact with that country, and especially with the Nazi movement. Garrett Stearly, a thirty-year-old among the younger group, describes how they were impressed, in one town, to see two bands of young men, one working on a big sewerage project, another draining a swamp. 'It was all on a voluntary basis and gave a great sense of dedication,' he recalls. 'Demoralisation seemed to have gone.'
Sixteen of Buchman's party were invited to a big Nazi banquet in Berlin. 'We were welcomed with trumpeters on each side - they really put on dog,' says Stearly. 'About a thousand present, with a leading military man in the chair. Sat down at dinner with fervent young men - alert, patriotic, filled with faith that Germany could overcome her problems. They were very appealing. Outside our own fellowship, I had never met young men with such commitment before. But there was nothing Christian about it. Many arguments developed over dinner, each side fighting for its beliefs. Our question was, was the Germans' commitment to be centred on the Führer or on Christ? None of us spoke publicly or was presented.'
Buchman had put it to his young colleagues that unless they could bring change to such committed people, their work was inadequate. After this occasion, he gathered about 150 Germans, mostly churchmen, at Bad Homburg and put the same challenge to them. 'Frank did not really get through to them,' Stearly adds. 'They were very intellectual, fortified behind an impregnable wall of theology. They looked down on National Socialism as something quite unrelated to the churches, and thought it would wear itself out. Frank was clear that, whether you liked it or not, it was there to stay, and that it was high time to try and win it for Christ. The clergy decided to do nothing. Frank was disappointed, but thought his friend, Professor Fezer of Tübingen,* might do something. We would have to see.'
(* Karl Fezer was Professor of Practical Theology at Tübingen University from 1929. Until 1933 he opposed National Socialism but, when once National Socialism was the elected government, he considered it necessary to deal with them. On 27 April 1933 he was unanimously elected by his colleagues in the Evangelical Church to represent them in the negotiations concerning the future of the Church.)
In June 1933, at the end of the first Canadian campaign, Buchman went straight to Germany at the urgent request of, amongst others, Baron von Maltzan, then in the Foreign Press section of the German Foreign Office. Von Maltzan sought an appointment for him with Hitler. Again no interview took place.
Buchman's aim in trying to meet the German leader was straightforward. He believed not only that Hider could experience a change of character and motivation, but that it was vital for Germany and the world that he should do so. He felt the same need for such change in the leaders of other nations and thought no one of them was beyond the reach of God's grace. To have attempted to approach Hitler seems in retrospect indiscreet or naive; but the same might have been said of St Francis when he crossed the Saracen lines to reach the Sultan, an equally sinister figure in medieval eyes.
Buchman's reaction to these first years of the Third Reich was one of intense interest mixed with a growing concern. He had been appalled by the post-war avalanche of immorality, the aimlessness of youth and the millions of able-bodied people without work. Two features of Hitler's movement made sense to him: the demand that all Germans should be responsible for their country, so that the young and unemployed, for example, were considered to be assets, not liabilities; and the conviction that difficulties could be overcome, given a united national purpose. He had also long felt that the Versailles Treaty had been unjust.10
On the other hand, he had been told by Frau Hanfstaengl, as early as 1924, of Hitler's hatred of the Jews, and in the summer of 1933 he caught a glimpse of the man, his style and character, when Hitler opened one of the first stretches of autobahn. 'On the way to the opening,' Ruth Bennett recalls, 'Hitler was smiling and amiable, acknowledging the applause of hundreds of thousands along the route as he stood in his Mercedes giving the Nazi salute. On the way back, he was as black as thunder and sat scowling, looking neither to right nor left. After him, in military formation with spades on their shoulders, marched the men who had built the Autobahn. This was long before Germany began to rearm, but Frank's comment was, "I don't like it. It smells of war."'
Buchman also realised, from the beginning, that the total claim which Hitler put forward for the state, if not modified, must ultimately clash with the total demands of God which he himself insisted on. This attitude was typified in a comment written by Ruth Bennett to Frau von Cramon in June 1933: 'I do hope, for Germany's sake, that God will come first and your country second all the way through. In Los Angeles you reversed the order.'11
Reginald Holme was at first greatly taken by the Nazis' flair and efficiency. He travelled with Buchman in Germany in 1934, and writes, 'I remember Buchman telling me, "Be very clear on this. What we see here is not Christian revolution. But why are the Christians still asleep in their beds when the Nazis can get their men marching early on Sunday morning? The trouble is that when you think of religion, you think of a preacher. You have got to think in terms of a whole nation becoming Christian."'
Buchman felt keenly that the German Lutheran Church, the tradition into which he had been born, had failed to give Germany an adequate challenge to live complete Christianity: 'I am convinced that, if it had been living the life and been on the march for Christ, the Lutheran Church would have had an answer for Germany.'
Having failed to reach Hitler directly and aware that the National Socialist movement had pre-empted any attempt he might have made to work for a large-scale Christian awakening through campaigns after the model of South Africa and Canada, Buchman now concentrated, in what time was available to him, on those Lutheran leaders who appeared to have any chance of redirecting the regime and its followers.
The Lutheran Church was already deeply divided, politically and theologically, into two main streams - the traditional Evangelical Church and the 'German Christians' - and many rivulets. Hitler was hoping to gain control of the Church through the 'German Christians', a body organised by the Nazis in 1932 on foundations stretching back into the early 1920s. At the National Conference of the German Christians in April 1933 those who wished to apply Nazi Party tenets to a unified German Church mingled with many moderates who were, in Eberhard Bethge's words, 'less drastic' and 'at bottom inspired by true missionary zeal . . . for example Professor Fezer of Tübingen'.12 The young Bishop Hossenfelder of Brandenburg was the leader of the German Christians. On 26 April Hitler appointed Ludwig Müller, a hitherto unknown chaplain to the forces in Königsberg, to be his confidential adviser and plenipotentiary in questions concerning the Evangelical Church.
In April, too, the Evangelical Church, in an attempt to retain some initiative, appointed a three-man commission to draft a new constitution and in May elected Pastor von Bodelschwingh, the son of Buchman's old friend, as Reichsbischof (National Bishop), a new position created by the state to unite the Church under one leader, since the state now had one leader. A month later von Bodelschwingh resigned, as he found the position unworkable when a Wiesbaden lawyer, August Jäger, was appointed both State Commissar of Prussia and President of the Supreme Church Council. In July Müller was named Reichsbischof by government decree, and the manner of his appointment was the starting point of an open split in the Lutheran Church. The 'Young Reformers', a group within the Evangelical Church among whom Dietrich Bonhoeffer was prominent, took the lead in this controversy.
That autumn, as Buchman was preparing for the major campaign in London, some of these men, including Dr Fezer and Bishop Rendtorff of Mecklenburg, appealed to him to intervene in Germany. Bishop Rendtorff had previously been one of the leaders of the German Christians. In July 1933 he had attended the Oxford house-party and, after his return to Germany, preached a sermon against the expulsion of Jewish Christians from the National Church. He had subsequently left the German Christians and was demoted from his bishopric.
When the Bishop of London commissioned Buchman and his team in St Paul's Cathedral on 6 October 1933 for their London campaign, four representatives of the German Church flew over to attend. They were Professor Fezer, Baron von Maltzan, Dr Wahl, Chancellor of the National Church, and Frau von Grone, head of the two million women in the Church organisation. The Church of England Newspaper commented, 'It does not need much imagination to realise what it will mean to Germany - and therefore to the world - if the vital message of the Oxford Group permeates German thought and action.'13 Professor Fezer was so impressed that he flew home to Germany to bring the highly controversial Nazi Bishop Hossenfelder back with him to London.
Hossenfelder's visit to Britain was not a success. 'This little, plump, cigar-smoking bishop, with a big cross on his chest, had no discipline,' commented Frau von Cramon, who accompanied him as interpreter. He brushed aside some of the ecclesiastical appointments which Buchman had made for him because 'he was obviously more interested in finding a Bavarian Bierstube in which he felt at home with weisswurst, sauerkraut and beer'.14 Also, recalls another observer, he 'insisted on slapping English bishops on the back'. Buchman received him graciously, introduced him to senior and junior members of Oxford University, but did not allow him to speak at meetings - only to pray. Naturally Buchman had to absorb plenty of criticism both for Hossenfelder's behaviour and for his opinions.
From the reports they made on their return to Germany it is clear that both Hossenfelder and Wahl had journeyed to London mainly with the idea of improving the image both of the German Christians and of Germany generally. They were impressed by the lack of automatic condemnation of things German among Oxford Group people, but, in fact, influenced none of them. On his return journey Hossenfelder told Fezer he had enjoyed his visit except that he did not understand 'all they kept saying about change'.15
While in London Hossenfelder appeared at first sight to have taken what looked like an important step by denouncing the exclusion of non-Aryans from the National Church (the so-called 'Aryan paragraph' and a principal 'German Christian' tenet) - a step which his hosts had urged upon him - though, according to the same source, he 'enthusiastically acclaimed it again back in Germany.16 The most recent explanation of his conduct is that he had been given 'direct instructions to explain to all official people, especially the British bishops, but also the German Embassy and perhaps other church gatherings, that it was not the official policy of the government of the German Church to enforce the 'Aryan paragraph' in the Evangelical Church'.17 Ironically, within a month of his return he was forced, for internal Church reasons, to resign all his offices and return to parish life.
Although Buchman was disappointed by the Bishop's visit, Hossenfelder's report from London did have the effect of frustrating the attempt by a Dr Jäger to get the Oxford Group banned in Germany.* A series of invitations to Buchman from Reichsbischof Müller followed, one, in November, being accepted at two hours' notice. Another led to Buchman spending most of two weeks in Müller's home. Buchman was unashamedly working for change in Müller and, through him, in Hitler. In private, he did not pull his punches with Müller. 'Müller could have changed Hitler,' he was to say later, 'but he failed.'* He was also later to admit to Hans Stroh, one of the Group's leaders in Germany and for some time Fezer's assistant at Tübingen, that Müller was the wrong man to rely upon, even though he seemed the only avenue available.
(* This was not the Dr August Jäger who was the State Commissioner of the Church in Prussia, but a clergyman in Hessen related to the head of the German Christians in Frankfurt. In October he attacked the Oxford Group at a church conference, saying that 'it could not fail to bring confusion and division into the national church's work of reconstruction. I shall continue to fight it in other places and by other means.' (Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 21 October 1933.)
(* Müller did fix an interview with Hitler for Buchman, Professor Fezer and himself for 11 October 1933. It was cancelled because Germany was to leave the League of Nations three days later.)
Bonhoeffer and his friends, who were working - fruitlessly as it proved - for a total break between the Church and Hitler, deprecated these and other attempts to reach Hitler. 'We have often - all too often - tried to make Hitler realise what is happening,' he wrote on 11 September 1934. 'Maybe we've not gone about it the right way, but then Barth won't go about it the right way either. Hitler must not and cannot hear. He is obdurate and it is he who must compel us to hear - it's that way round. The Oxford Group has been naive enough to try to convert Hitler - a ridiculous failure to understand what is going on - it is we who are to be converted, not Hitler.'18 Among Bonhoeffer and his friends the scene was set for the heroic rearguard action, a series of protests, draftings, unitings and splittings of factions which finally, in Bonhoeffer's case, led to active plotting, participation in the attempt on Hitler's life and a martyr's death.
Buchman, in spite of many disappointments, still felt it his task to aim straight at the man at the top because he alone could put evil laws into reverse and avoid war. So his speeches and broadcasts at this time were part drafted with Hitler in mind. Where Hitler demanded the 'leadership principle' and 'the dictatorship of the Party', Buchman called for 'God-control' and 'the dictatorship of the living Spirit of God'.
Many of his friends tried to dissuade him from his efforts on the basis that he was endangering the reputation of himself and his work. Among them was Professor Emil Brunner of Zurich, then probably the most influential theologian in the German-speaking world apart from Karl Barth. Brunner, who had frequently acknowledged his debt to Buchman and had seen in the Oxford Group a great hope for revitalising the churches world-wide,* wrote accusing Buchman of wanting to 'mediate in the German Church struggle' and deploring his contact with Hossenfelder.19 Buchman replied baldly from Germany, 'Your danger is that you are still the Professor thundering from the pulpit and want the theologically perfect. But the German Church crisis will never be solved that way. Just think of your sentence, "Unfortunately this hopeless fellow Hossenfelder has damaged the reputation of the Groups." It sounds to me like associating with "publicans and sinners".
(* Hamilton recalled that at a house-party in Bad Homburg in the early thirties Brunner described seeing a sandwich-board man advertising a restaurant but looking as if he had not eaten a good meal himself for weeks, and added, 'I have been that sandwich-board man. I was advertising a good meal, but I hadn't eaten the meal myself until I met the Oxford Group'.)
'Just keep your sense of humour and read the New Testament. The Groups in that sense have no reputation, and for myself, I have nothing to lose. I think it says something about that in the second chapter of Philippians. I would be proud to have Hossenfelder be in touch with such real Christianity that some day he would say, "Well, as a young man of thirty-two I made many mistakes, but I have seen a pattern of real Christianity." It is not a question of this man's past, but of his future. What might it mean for the future of Germany, if by the grace of God he could see a maximum message of Christ incarnate in you; and you might be the human instrument to effect that mighty change .. . Our aim is never to mediate, but to change lives and unite them by making them life-changers - to build a united Christian front.'20
To this end Buchman maintained touch with those he could reach in all sections of the Church, not least with von Bodelschwingh. In January 1934 the Morning Post 21 reported that the Pastors' Emergency League, founded by the courageous pastor Niemöller, was about to ask Buchman's assistance, but nothing came of it. He himself was planning a house-party in Stuttgart for the first week of January, although in the event he was himself not present at this occasion, which turned out to be the largest since 1931.
Buchman's Swiss friends played a major part, and a participant wrote, 'Brunner gave a very good address and had a good contact with Landesbischof Wurm (of Württemberg) who came several times. Nearly fifty students were there, mostly from Tübingen.'22 According to Stroh, Bishop Wurm was particularly interested to discuss the responsibility of the Church in a totalitarian state, a situation which he said had not arisen for a thousand years.
In March Buchman visited Stuttgart to meet those most affected by the January occasion. Frau Wurm describes one afternoon, in the diary which she and the Bishop kept jointly and in which she always referred to her husband as 'Father': '3 March: We walked in the shade . .. and came home via Rudolph-Sophien-Stift to rejoin the Groups. It was splendid. Frank Buchman also came, spoke at length, greeted Father warmly. And in the end Father spoke as well and closed with a brief prayer. Father received a strong impulse to do something openly for the Church. It became quite clear to him what he had to do. He is going with Meiser (the Bishop of Bavaria) to Berlin.'23
Bishops Wurm and Meiser thereafter took a firm stand against further state control of the Church. Meanwhile, in May at the Barmen Synod, free and legal representatives of all the German regional churches proclaimed a Confession to the fundamental truths of the Gospel in opposition to the 'false doctrines' of the German Christian Government and, in so doing, severed themselves from the 'Brown Church'. They now saw themselves as the one 'Confessing Church' of Germany, and in October, at the Dahlem Confessional Synod, set up their own emergency church government. Müller's delayed consecration as National Bishop, which took place in Berlin Cathedral on 23 September, was not attended by representatives of the ecumenical movement.
August Jäger, the Nazi-appointed President of the Supreme Church Council, chose this moment to extend compulsory centralisation for the first time to the South German Regional Churches. In the first weeks of October he put first Wurm, then Meiser, under house arrest. This led to spontaneous demonstrations in support of the two bishops in the streets of Stuttgart and Munich. The general clamour, together with the surprising unanimity at Dahlem, even penetrated to Hitler. On 26 October Jäger resigned. The two bishops were released and, together with Bishop Mahrarens of Hanover, were received by Hitler. Hitler then publicly dissociated himself from the Reich Church. It seemed for a time as though a victory had been won. But after some weeks cracks began to appear in the Confessing Church once more. 'It had taken fright at its own daring,' writes Bethge, 'and there was growing criticism of the Dahlem resolution.'24 As a result, Hitler never needed to take further notice of the emergency organisations set up by the Synod. No further attempt was made, however, to bring the Southern regions and Hanover under central control.
At the Stuttgart gatherings in January 1934 Buchman and his friends received the first intimation that their meetings were being watched by the Gestapo. At one of the early meetings they realised that there was an informer amongst them, and those leading the house-party decided to speak with this man in mind - to give him the fullest information of what God could do in a person's life. He is said to have reported back to his chief, 'Those people have a strange God who can actually help them!' In April Dr Alois Münch, who had begun to have group meetings in his house in Munich, was questioned for two and a half hours by the political police - probably because some Jewish people were attending.25 When some Germans went to a house-party in Thun, Switzerland, in August of the same year, their statements were known to the Gestapo within a few days. Word reached Frau von Cramon, through her SS source in Silesia, that the Gestapo were about to take action against the Oxford Group as an international spy network. She prepared a memorandum which was sent to headquarters by the Silesian SS officer. This, for the time being, averted the danger of suppression. The original report, however, lay on the files.
1 Moni von Cramon recorded her experiences, related in this and following chapters, in two documents which she wrote in June 1954.
2 Buchman to Mrs William H. Woolverton, 23 September 1920.
3 Buchman to Miss Angelique Contostavlos, 22 September 1923. The doctor was probably Dr Schäfer of Bad Homburg.
4 Buchman to Mrs Tjader, 8 December 1927.
5 Professor D. Adolf Allwohn Zum Gedenken an Justus Ferdinand Laun,1899-1963. (Prof. Adolf Allwohn, 1963).
6 Speech at Passau, 27 October 1928, quoted in Une Eglise à croix gammée by Bernard Reymond (L'age d'homme, Lausanne, 1980), p. 299.
7 Radio address 1 February 1933, in which Hitler said: 'The national government...will firmly protect Christianity which is the basis of our common morality...May God Almighty accept our work in His grace.'
8 Hjalmar Schacht: Account Settled (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1948), p. 66.
9 Karl Barth: Eine Schweizer Stimme,1938-1945, under entry for 5 December 1938 (Evangelischer Verlag, 1945).
10 See Buchman to Gerhard Heine, 14 December 1921.
11 Ruth Bennett to Moni von Cramon, 18 June 1933.
12 Eberhard Bethge: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Collins, 1970), p. 204.
13 Church of England Newspaper, 13 October 1933.
14 Diary of Moni von Cramon.
15 Quoted by Hans Stroh in an interview with Pierre Spoerri. Stroh was Fezer's assistant at that time.
16 cf. A. S. Duncan-Jones: Struggle for Religious Freedom in Germany (Gollancz, 1950), p. 60.
17 Klaus Scholder: Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich (Propyläen Verlag, 1977), p.39
18 Bethge, pp. 282-4.
19 Emil Brunner to Buchman, 21 December 1933.
20 Buchman to Emil Brunner, 23 December 1933.
21 Morning Post, 16 January 1934.
22 H.von Krumhaar to Buchman, 7 January 1934.
23 Wurm: Tagebuchaufzeichnungen aus der Zeit des Kirchenkampfes (Quell Verlag, 1951). Bishop Wurm and his wife each made entries in the diary.
24 Bethge, p. 318.
25 Diary notes of Frau Elisabeth Munch, 1931-5.