'WHERE ARE THE GERMANS?'
Buchman was returning to a Britain much altered both by war and by its aftermath of austerity. The circumstances of his own work in that country had altered too. Now he was coming into a headquarters where both administration and entertainment were being wholly handled by his full-time colleagues. He first set foot in 45 Berkeley Square as a fully furnished house on the afternoon of 30 April 1946. In the war years, its cellars had been used as air-raid shelters, its ball-room converted into a small theatre and the rest of the house sparsely furnished. In the last month, gifts and loans of carpets, pictures and furniture had flowed in from all over the country. On arrival, Buchman sat in the hall beneath the stair-well, while friends who had not seen him for seven years crowded the hall, stairs and landings up to the fourth floor.
Some were shocked at his appearance - he had arrived walking with a stick, instead of with his old, vigorous stride - but he did not behave like an invalid then or in the weeks ahead. For two hours that afternoon he greeted people individually and then spoke to all those gathered to meet him. Next day he lunched with Lord Hardinge, had tea with the Courthopes and dinner with Henry Martin, editor of the Press Association. In the following days he saw Percy Cudlipp, editor of the Daily Herald, Lord Lytton, Tod Sloan and Lady Antrim, attended a party in East London, had two lunches with groups of Members of Parliament, and entertained the Indian cricket team to supper.
The first weekend he spent at Peter Howard's farm in Suffolk. He much enjoyed his visit to this 'wholesome place', and insisted on visiting some of Howard's friends and farm-workers in their homes in Lavenham. To attend seven weddings among his full-time colleagues he travelled to the Cotswolds, Cheshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Worcester, and on one occasion agreed to take the whole service, after he had incautiously told the pair that he would do anything they liked. Their Methodist service was unfamiliar to him, so that the happy couple had to prompt him on the questions he was to ask them, but he came through strongly with the words, 'Whom God has joined together, let no man set asunder.' At the reception he told them, 'That is what comes of asking an old man to marry you!' When the new wife phoned that night and said life was 'wonderful', his earthy retort was, 'See it stays wonderful.' While he was in Glasgow he paid a visit to Henry Drummond's grave at Stirling. All this activity, however, was punctuated by days of rest, and planning sessions often took place around his bed.
Before leaving for a campaign in Northern Ireland with The Forgotten Factor Buchman also visited Cambridge and Oxford, where he heard the Master of St Peter's Hall state in the University Sermon, 'During the last twenty-five years there has been going out from Oxford not only a Christian ideology, but men and women fired with the conception of remaking the world.'1The student magazine, Isis, had already produced an editorial for the twenty-fifth anniversary of Buchman's first coming to Oxford. 'Our interest in the Oxford Group is aroused', it said, 'because we feel their opponents, so vitriolic and yet so vague, have held the floor too long and failed to substantiate their charges...Certainly Oxford has no need to be ashamed of any real spiritual crusade that she fosters - she has nursed many in her time and, indeed, what could be more fitting for a University with the motto Dominus Illuminatio Mea?2
The old opponents, Tom Driberg and A. P. (now Sir Alan) Herbert, were soon in the field. Two days after Buchman's arrival Driberg, speaking in the House of Commons, criticised the Home Secretary, Chuter Ede, for permitting 'this man, who has never repudiated his expressed admiration of Hitler and deceived the public by putting false entries into Who's Who,* to enter the country. This was dismissed by the Home Secretary with the words, '"The wind bloweth where it listeth"; I am not prepared to put any obstruction in the way.' Driberg then gave notice that he would raise the matter 'on the adjournment'.3
(* Buchman's alleged falsification of Who's Who is examined in detail in J.P. Thornton-Duesbery’s The Open Secret of MRA, pp. 82-3. The main charge was that Buchman had stated that he studied at Cambridge University, 1921-22, and that this was inaccurate, because Westminster College, where Buchman was received at that time as a guest in the Senior Common Room, was not technically a part of the University but an independent Presbyterian theological college. 'Even so,' Driberg later stated, 'the entry might have been justifiable if Buchman attended University lectures: Herbert ascertained from the University authorities that he never asked permission to do so.' (Driberg: The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament, p. 51.) This was, of course, because Buchman was invited personally by Professor Oman to attend his lectures at the request of Principal Mackenzie of Hartford Seminary. Buchman did attend Oman's lectures. (see p. 91.)
The adjournment debate, strictly limited in time, took place two months later, on 5 July. Driberg deployed his argument at such length that only a few minutes remained for other comment. In this time Herbert briefly stated his accusation that Buchman had falsified his entries to Who’s Who, while Quintin Hogg (later Lord Hailsham) ridiculed both Driberg's and Herbert's arguments as 'tittle-tattle which would not do credit to the senior common room of a girls' school'. 'What are we coming to in this country if we act on such grounds?' he asked. The Home Secretary stood firm, and censured Driberg for 'taking so long to develop his case that it was impossible for other Members to intervene'.4
This was the last public attack which Herbert made on Buchman. Acknowledging his lack of success, he remarked in his autobiography, 'Like Mr Churchill, I cannot maintain my hatreds for ever.'5 Driberg, on the other hand, continued his onslaughts until Buchman's death and after.
In his first weeks back in Britain Buchman was particularly interested to talk with two whole-time MRA workers who, during the war, had enlisted to serve in the coal-mines. While still in America he had heard from another former miner, Will Locke, who had entertained him in 1937 when he was Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne. Locke had been spending the previous months travelling the coalfields by bus and on foot, and had written, 'The industry is not in a healthy state. There is discontent which is above man's power to alter, but we must try and reach the rank and file as best we can. The MRA spirit is needed. There is great promise in the Doncaster area where a group of six mines, each employing 1,500-2,000 men, have got hold of the subject quite correctly, and men at the coal-face and the officials are working finely together. We are fighting fit and going on: no rusting for us. And what about yourself, young man? We hope your health is equal to the foraging that must go on . . .'6
Britain had many problems - one-third of her dwellings destroyed or damaged; industrial plant run down and overseas assets of four billion pounds credit in 1939 transformed into a debt of nearly three billion; the impossibility of increasing exports quickly to the necessary seventy-five per cent above pre-war; the need, as the Soviet Union's stance became clear, to maintain a million and a half people under arms. Yet Buchman's thought, after receiving Locke's letter, was, 'Coal is the key.'
Here, unconsciously, he was in tune with Ernest Bevin, the Foreign Minister in the new Labour Government, who told the miners, 'Give me thirty million tons of coal for export and I will give you a foreign policy.' The national miners' leaders were also appealing for increased production. But exhortation does not dig coal. Absenteeism, for example, had risen from 6.4 per cent in 1939 to16.3 per cent in 1945. 'It is my duty to warn the House', said the Minister of Fuel and Power, Emmanuel Shinwell, in the Commons in January, 'that the existing position contains the elements of industrial disaster.'7
Buchman believed that he had, in the play The Forgotten Factor, a weapon which could be useful in this situation. On 13 May he put it on in the City of London at the Cripplegate Theatre, which stood unharmed amid the ruins around St Paul's Cathedral. To it came miners from several coalfields, among them four from the Doncaster area. These men convinced their colleagues to invite the play to the mining village of Carcroft, where six weeks later two thousand people connected with the industry came to see it.
One Doncaster miner wrote to Buchman, 'This play has been the main topic of conversation at our colliery this week despite the fact that it was Doncaster races on Friday and Saturday,' and added,'...miners at our colliery...agree that if the spirit of the play is put into practice, teamwork in the Doncaster mines will become the pattern for the country. Therefore if it can make tough miners feel like that, it ought to be shown to every miner in the country, both management and men.'8 Another miner and his wife wrote to thank Buchman for his visit to their home.9
The Doncaster Free Press commented, 'Somebody last week threw a pebble in the pond that is industrial England, and the ripples will reach far.'10 The very next week one of the largest pits reported that production had risen from 10,000 to 16,000 tons. The secret, apparently, was the change in a dictatorial manager, commonly called 'the pocket battleship', who had apologised to the men after seeing The Forgotten Factor. The colliery agent at Brodsworth Main, who showed Buchman around the workings for an hour, commented, 'The play raised the finer feelings of all sections.'11
Buchman felt The Forgotten Factor should be staged in London, where the Westminster Theatre, an elegant building with 600 seats, had for some time been the property of a Moral Re-Armament trust. It had been bought, as a living memorial to the men and women of Moral Re- Armament who had died in war service, for £132,500. In April, while Buchman was still in America, Roland Wilson wrote to him, 'The theatre is ours and is paid for, all but a very small sum. A soldier came in yesterday from Wales. His father, a miner, had saved £200 to send his son to college. The soldier asked if it might be given to the Fund to buy the theatre. A number of servicemen have given their gratuities, and gifts have come from all kinds of people, including trades union leaders, dockers and miners.'12 Altogether 2,857 people contributed. It was to become available in October, at which point, Buchman felt, people from all sides of the coal industry should be invited.
In Switzerland, at the same time, another building was being bought which was to play an even larger part in Buchman's life and planning. True to their thought the previous summer Philippe Mottu and Robert Hahnloser, with their colleague Erich Peyer and others, had been looking for a place where people from the divided countries of Europe could meet in an atmosphere similar to Mackinac. After a prolonged search, they came upon the near-derelict Caux Palace Hotel, 3,000 feet above Montreux, which Buchman had visited during his trip to Europe forty years before. Now it was no longer an economic proposition and was due for demolition. Some sixty Swiss families took counsel together and, in a notable leap of faith, decided that they would buy the hotel - which had cost six million Swiss francs to build - for 1,050,000 francs (then around £130,000), the first installment of 450,000 francs to be paid within a matter of weeks. By prodigious sacrifice - some sold their homes, others put in all their savings - they succeeded in meeting the deadline. Buchman left London for Caux on 15 July.
In the first nineteen days of July a hundred Swiss backed by international volunteers set to work to refurbish the building, with its 500-bed capacity and magnificent reception rooms. During the war the hotel had at first been inhabited by Royal Air Force and other Allied personnel who had escaped into Switzerland, and later by families of refugees. The kitchens were black with smoke, the lift wells clogged with rubbish and most of the locks broken. Every wall had to be washed.
Typical of the voluntary effort was that of a retired locksmith. After ten days he announced to Hahnloser's reconstruction team that he had so far mended 640 locks, but there were 1,220 more to do. 'It's impossible. I just can't do it in the time.'
'All we can do', said Hahnloser, 'is to listen to God and let Him show us the way out.' After a few minutes' silence, the old locksmith suddenly said, 'Take me to a phone.' He telephoned his home, and his sons and grandsons shut the family business for a fortnight, came to Caux and finished the job.
When Buchman entered the front hall it was shining with some of the pristine beauty which he remembered. With him were a party from Britain and America. Gathered in the hall were old friends from France, Scandinavia, Holland, Italy and Switzerland, many of whom had fought against or lost relatives at the hands of the Germans.
Buchman stood in the door looking from face to face in the ring of welcome, deeply moved. Then he said, 'Where are the Germans? You will never rebuild Europe without the Germans.'
'The effect was stunning,' writes Reginald Hale. 'Shock, outrage, anger showed on many faces. Frank passed on to his room leaving consternation behind him. Supper that night was a subdued meal and many were strangely silent.'13
People had been brought face to face with Christ's command, 'Love your enemies.' Many found the power to do so. Then the technical difficulties had to be faced and overcome. No Germans were allowed to leave their country without Allied permission, and few, if any, had the means to do so if permitted. Work with the Allied authorities was immediately initiated, and sixteen Germans, including Moni von Cramon and the widows of two men executed for taking part in the plot to kill Hitler, arrived that first year.
The inherent difficulties of this operation were revealed even in the attitude of some of Moni von Cramon’s non-German friends from the pre-war years, who went so far as to ask Buchman to send her away from Caux as she was ‘no longer trustworthy’. Instead he took her with him to Locarno when he went there from Caux for a rest, as always with a group of colleagues. “There,’ according to Frau von Cramon’s daughter, ‘everything blew up. Frank listened to it all, and then sat silent. Then he said, “Feed her, clothe her, love her.” And a Swiss friend took her home and took care of her.’
All the rooms at Caux were full for two months, many of the visitors being workers and their leaders, most numerous among them British coal-miners who had established a special fund for the purpose.
On 22 October The Forgotten Factor opened at the Westminster Theatre. To begin with, Buchman sat in a box each evening, watching not the play but the audience. Busloads of miners came from several coalfields, as well as managers and, after the nationalization of the mines at the beginning of 1947, Coal Board officials. That winter in Britain was the coldest for sixty years and 8,000,000 extra tons of coal were needed. Acknowledgements of the effect of the play began to flow in. Tom Collier, the Coal Board's Area Labour Officer for North Staffordshire, said at a meeting in the Westminster Theatre on 11 May, 'If the Coal Board would send this play round the country, their problems would be at an end. A week ago I told our people that with the help of the spirit of this play the five-day week* would succeed...Now, in five days, more coal has come from the pits than in any other week for many years.'* Speaking with Collier was Harold Heath, Union Committee member at Chatterley Whitfield Pit, the fifth largest in Britain. 'We hit our six-day target in four and a half days,' he said. 'A thousand of our men saw The Forgotten Factor last week.'
(* An experimental replacement for the six-day week.)
(* cf. Birmingham Post, 12 May 1947: 'Five-Day Week Brings More Coal in Four Areas: North Staffordshire Pits Lead the Coalfields'.)
The ensuing campaign in the coalfields, initiated both by management and trade unionists, centred on performances of The Forgotten Factor, was to continue for the next four years. Independent evaluations of its effect were numerous. For example, the editor of The Spectator wrote in his column, 'Tribute should be paid where tribute is due. I heard this week of a striking impetus to coal production....Some 300 miners from a pit went to London to see The Forgotten Factor. The result, I am assured, is that the pit regularly tops production for its region. The story comes to me from no MRA quarter, but from someone who knows the pit and pitmen particularly well.'14
After a year The Birmingham Post, writing of the West Midlands, stated, ' The new spirit is so revealing itself in increased output that, according to one computation based on recent figures, if the same results were obtained in all Britain's coalfields, the target of 200,000,000 tons a year would be exceeded by 30,000,000 tons.'15 Tom Beecham, Area Production Manager for the Rhondda, where 15,000 miners saw the play, said in April 1949, 'Production in this area rose seven per cent, while it rose two per cent in the whole Welsh coal-field.It has had a real effect on relationships, which is showing itself in negotiations between the Board and the Union. There is not the acrimony that there was. Men are quick to see any change in management.'16
Buchman prized the resulting practical changes for their own sake - for the increased wages for the miners and the lessening of hardship to the country at large. But as he insisted to his team, 'Remember, whatever I do, I am out to teach the soul.' By this he meant that he regarded the maturing of the individual as basic, first for its own sake and as the essential raw-material of larger improvements. He realised that it was often in a time of crisis that people were ready to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and, also, that busy public figures often only paid sufficient attention to the possibility of change in themselves when they saw results of a practical kind in their own spheres of interest. The Forgotten Factor led to many crucial personal talks. Christ was not mentioned in the script but Dr Edward Woods, Bishop of Lichfield, commented after a performance, 'I saw Christ on the stage and thank God no one had to say so.17
After the first two months of the run at the Westminster, Buchman, on medical advice, started to travel south in search of a warmer climate. On 16 December, at Folkestone, he was met by an obliging dockside official with a wheel-chair. Buchman waved it aside, insisting that John Caulfeild - a robust ex-captain from the US Air Force - was the invalid, so that the unfortunate Caulfeild was pushed to the passport officer, through the customs, and on to the dock. The passage was rough, and though Buchman, with his Pennsylvania Dutch stubbornness, insisted on sitting upright in a chair, he was obviously glad when it was over.
In Switzerland, where he spent Christmas, he met Philippe Etter, who was to be the next President and Home Minister. Etter promised to visit Caux officially the following summer. 'Europe has lost its soul,' he said, 'and it was its soul which gave it the leadership among the nations. Caux is going to be a great centre of spiritual strength.'
Christmas was spent peacefully in Berne. A sparsely decorated, candlelit tree was put up in his hotel sitting-room, and he and his friends sat quietly around it in the evenings. 'One of my earliest memories - I must have been one or two - is being carried into a room where there was a lighted tree,' Buchman said. On Christmas night Buchman's thoughts, as they listened for guidance together, were, 'You will be spoken to in no uncertain way this next year. Caux a miracle of the first order. Germany will come into her own. Go to Ganda with the lightest touch. Make our way slowly and gradually.'
For, in spite of the bitter weather, Buchman was not to reach the sunny south. He had accepted the invitation of Eugene von Teuber and his aged parents to spend the next months at their medieval castle, Castel Ganda, in Appiano near Bolzano. Gene, an ebullient character whose family had deep roots in Austria and Italy, had emigrated to America twenty-five years before and there become a full-time colleague of Buchman. His parents had just been released from a Communist prison camp in Czechoslovakia, and opened their old home for the occasion. The Tyrolean countryside, which Buchman had long known and loved, was in deep snow when he and his party arrived, and remained so for many months. His doctor and friends were anxious for his health, but in fact he kept well and stayed at Ganda, apart from two visits to Rome, until early May. The senior von Teubers described these weeks as 'coming out of hell into heaven'.18
The Tyrol was bitterly split between the Austrian and Italian elements of the population, a bitterness which had been endemic since the Treaty of Versailles had transferred the territory from Austria to Italy. Then, more recently, there had been the German war-time occupation, and a number of German soldiers were still hiding in the mountains. The Italian military authorities still retained British liaison officers on their staff. The area was a minefield of delicate feelings. In particular, the old Austrian families and the Italian officials and military were hardly on speaking terms.
All parties, however, came to see Buchman, beginning with the Austrian families who naturally called upon the von Teubers, and going on to the Italian mayor and the regional commander, General Negroni, who turned out to have on his staff a British major who had seen The Forgotten Factor in London and a sergeant major who had been concerned with Buchman's trip to Amman with Lady Minto in 1938. Inevitably the day came when all sides were invited to a party together. An atmosphere was created in which Buchman was able to tell how, forty years before, he had passed through that country, his heart consumed with bitterness against the managing committee of the hostel in Philadelphia and how, after going over the Simplon in a horse-drawn carriage and on to England, he had, at Keswick, been freed from his hatreds. The Mayor never forgot it and, when he later came to Caux, said he traced the new friendliness in the area to that day.
Buchman's first visit to Rome from Ganda began in mid-January. His thought, once again, was to move quietly: 'Let people come to you. No hint of pressure or suggestion to anyone. This is not the time to see the Pope.' He did want to see, among others, Count Lovera di Castiglione, a Papal Chamberlain who had written understanding articles about his work before the war, and the Foreign Minister, Count Sforza. Count Lovera was one of the first to see him, and during the conversation talked of Moral Re-Armament as 'the gateway to modern man'. One morning Buchman spent an hour with Giuseppe Saragat, the Vice-President of the Parliament and later President of Italy, who described their talk as 'the most important I have ever had because it dealt with fundamentals'. 'Yours is the real struggle for Europe - to give democracy a faith that will outlive the ideologies,' added the Socialist leader. Saragat's family remained in touch with Buchman until his death.
Randolfo Paccardi, the leader of the party to which Sforza belonged, asked Buchman what he could do for him. Buchman made no suggestion. Paccardi volunteered that he wanted him to meet Sforza, and this accordingly took place. Buchman had read Sforza's recent book with its references to 'Christian democracy', and the conversation turned on how this could be created in Europe.
Several Catholics in Buchman's party, which had now expanded to thirty, were received by Pope Pius XII. They mentioned their work to him and eagerly reported to Buchman that the Pope had blessed it. This pleased Buchman, who mistakenly believed that if enough loyal Catholics told the Pope that they worked with him, it would favourably influence the Church's attitude. He himself, however, politely refused suggestions from a number of well-placed persons who wanted to arrange for him to see the Holy Father. The Manchester Guardian19 and the Daily Worker20reported from Rome that Buchman was holding a convention there and was trying to see the Pope. But the nearest thing to Buchman which entered the papal chambers was, in fact, his top hat, in the hand of Gene von Teuber, whose brown trilby Buchman considered inadequate for the occasion.
He did well to move cautiously. True, he had always had good relations with Catholic priests with whom he had been in contact. Far from taking anyone away from the Catholic Church, he had helped many to return to it. In the pre-war years, his work was mainly in Protestant countries, and Rome looked with sympathy on his activities there. The great Catholic countries were only marginally affected, and Bishops had been left to decide their attitudes according to how their local situations appeared to them. Some reacted negatively, but most were neutral or mildly favourable. L’Osservatore Romano, the organ of the Vatican, reporting a Moral Re-Armament meeting in Lausanne in 1937, had underlined the value of silent listening for God's will and the importance of people of all classes putting their faith into practice unitedly.21 On the first anniversary of the launching of Moral Re-Armament, it headlined its report 'The supremacy of spiritual and moral values for the peace of the world'.22
Now, however, a new situation was about to arise.As, from the new centre at Caux, Buchman bent his energies to the reconciliation of Europe, and that trio of Catholic statesmen - Schuman of France, Adenauer of Germany and de Gasperi of Italy, together with their mentor the Italian priest, Don Sturzo - increasingly saw in Moral Re-Armament an idea which could supplement their efforts, the hierarchy in Rome began to feel the need to take up a definite attitude. The sight of a Lutheran drawing the faithful to Caux aroused suspicion - or at least caution - in the Holy Office, the institution which guarded the integrity of the faith. In the next few years, they were to come to conclusions which were to puzzle many Catholics who had found in Caux a new impetus to their faith, conclusions which were to take nearly two decades to reverse.
That, however, was in the future, and Buchman's next visit to Rome, five weeks after his return to Ganda, was at the invitation of Monsignor Francois Charrière, Bishop of Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva, in whose diocese Caux was situated. He was taking 8,000 Swiss to Rome to attend the canonisation of the Swiss saint, Nicolas von Flüe, and invited Buchman and a party of his colleagues to be present. They were placed in excellent seats near the High Altar in St Peter's, and Buchman was fascinated by the story of the Saint and by the colour of the ceremony. In June, over Swiss radio, he spoke of the significance of the occasion, recalling how Saint Nicolas had become 'the most sought-after arbiter in affairs of state' and had saved Switzerland 'when the bitter quarrels of the cantons brought his country to the verge of civil war'. 'Truly he is a saint for our times, a model for the United Nations,' Buchman commented.23
The whole year had been a revelation to his European team of the difference between this post-war period and the days of the physically quicksilver Buchman they had known. Then, he had been in the lead of each campaign, moving from situation to situation and country to country 'with compact vigour - quietly like an express train', as one of his younger colleagues remarked. Now he was often to initiate some idea - like the work among coal-miners in Britain or the struggle to bring the German nation out into the world again - but to leave its execution to others. He had always professed that it was more important to teach ten people to do the work than to try to do ten people's work yourself. Now more than ever he had to learn to practise this, for his work, unrestricted by war, was breaking out in countries all across the world.
His trained people scattered to work in Japan, South Africa, the Middle East, and although they kept in touch by letter, they were out on their own and he seldom intervened. He himself never moved without a team; but it was one of many mobile units throughout the world, who would meet, annually or more often, at assemblies at Caux, Mackinac or elsewhere.
1 Oxford University Sermon by Revd J. P. Thornton-Duesbery, 9 June 1946.
2 Isis, 6 March 1946.
3 The Times, 3 May 1946.
4 ibid., 6 July 1946.
5 Sir Alan Herbert: Independent Member (Methuen, 1950), p. 138.
6 Will Locke to Buchman, 2 January 1946.
7 Hansard, 29 January 1946.
8 S. Howard to Buchman, 3 July 1946.
9 Reg and Ivy Adams to Buchman, 3 July 1946.
10 Doncaster Free Press, 4 July 1946.
11 J. Deardon to Buchman, 2 July 1946.
12 Roland Wilson to Buchman, 9 April 1946.
13 Hale, Vol. III, p. 22.
14 The Spectator, 6 June 1947.
15 Birmingham Post, 2 December 1947.
16 Conversation with author, April 1949.
17 Confirmed by Alan Thornhill and Kenneth Belden.
18 John C. Wood to author, 11 May 1984.
19 Manchester Guardian, 22 February 1947.
20 Daily Worker, 22 February 1947.
21 L’Osservatore Romano, 21 May 1937.
22 ibid., 15 June 1939.
23 Broadcast on Swiss radio, 4 June 1947. (See Buchman, pp. 154-5.)