RECONCILIATION FROM CAUX
Five thousand people from some fifty countries went to Caux for the summer assembly in 1947. President Etter of Switzerland fulfilled his promise to make an official visit, and General Guisan, war-time commander of the Swiss Army, came three times. Others included the Prime Ministers of Denmark and Indonesia, Count Bernadotte of Sweden, the Smith-Mundt Committee of the United States Congress, and two hundred Italians, including twenty-six Members of Parliament and eight senior editors, representing all the major democratic parties.
The crowds were so great that another large hotel, the Grand Hotel, had to be bought to accommodate them. The unusual pattern of work at Caux attracted as much press attention as the numbers. Guests were encouraged to help in the running of the assembly - and Ministers and workers could end up preparing the vegetables or washing up together. Cartoonists and photographers had a field-day; but the Prior of the monastery of Kremsmünster found it natural. 'We Benedictines', he said, 'know that working together is the best way of tilling the soil of each other's minds.' A French anarchist declared with enthusiasm, 'I have seen anarchy actually lived out here!'
Asian visitors included G. L. Nanda, Labour Minister in Bombay state and later twice stop-gap Prime Minister of India, and U Tin Tut, the first Foreign Minister of independent Burma. Nanda went on from Caux to the British coalfields to verify what he had heard from miners there, and was much impressed by what he found.
However, the country most on Buchman's mind in that summer of 1947 was Germany. What was its future to be? How could any worthwhile future be brought about?
These questions had long been the subject of urgent, and often acrimonious, discussion among Allied statesmen. In September 1944 Churchill had been surprised, on arrival at the Quebec Conference, to find that President Roosevelt was accompanied not by his Secretary of State but by the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, and that the main issue on their minds was how to treat Germany after victory.1 Morgenthau, it turned out, had been outraged by the 'soft' treatment proposed for Germany in a US War Department paper sent to General Eisenhower in August, and had won the President's support for his so-called 'Morgenthau Plan' whereby Germany would be reduced to a pastoral nation, with her industry removed, her standard of living reduced and segments of her population shifted to other parts of the country. Churchill disapproved, but let the matter pass for the time being. In the end, less extreme counsels prevailed, but the fear of the 'Morgenthau mentality' remained to plague German relations with America for some years.
The honeymoon period following the Yalta Conference of the great powers in February 1945 had lasted less than two months. Already on 2 April the US Secretary of State was advising of a 'serious deterioration' in relations with the Soviet Union. At the Potsdam Conference, the division of Germany into four zones was confirmed and the Soviet desire to gain control of Germany's industrial might became ever clearer.
James Forrestal, US Secretary of the Navy, noted in his diary for 14 May, that the Communists had one great advantage, a clear-cut philosophy 'amounting almost to a religion in which they believe is the only solution to the government of men'. 'There is no use fooling ourselves about the depth or the extent of the problem, he added. 'I have no answers, but we had better try to get an answer.'2
This diagnosis echoed Buchman's two years earlier at Mackinac. Since that time he and his colleagues had been making a conscious effort to express their beliefs in terms of 'an ideology for democracy' which could give moral and spiritual content to the freedom of the so-called free world. They had seen it applied in various situations in war-time America and since then in the British coalfields. Now Buchman felt that the crucial test was whether this philosophy would be adequate to meet the needs of post-war Germany. The vacuum in Germany after the collapse of the Nazi ideology and his own failure to counteract that ideology before the war made him the more eager.
Preparations for getting significant numbers of Germans to Caux had been going forward ever since Buchman's remark on arrival there the previous year. In the same week in which General Marshall, now Secretary of State, made his proposals for the economic rehabilitation of Europe3, Senator Alexander Smith had arranged for his son-in-law, Kenaston Twitchell, to see him. This interview, in which Twitchell and his colleagues outlined Buchman's plan to bring the future leadership of Germany to Caux, led to a further interview with Robert Patterson, the Secretary of War. Patterson promised to remove the many obstacles to Germans who wanted to travel abroad and sent his visitors on to see General Lucius Clay, Commander in the American zone of Germany, and his political adviser, Robert Murphy. In London, meanwhile, Lord Pakenham, Minister in charge of the British Zone, also gave his blessing. 'Along with food,' he said, 'the kind of work you are doing is the only thing which will do any good in Germany now.'4 A list of fifty-five Germans in the British Zone began to be screened, and Pakenham subsequently telephoned General Sir Brian Robertson, Commander of the British Zone, to ask him to give Moral Re-Armament every facility.
General Clay was equally responsive, and arranged an occasion in Stuttgart where Twitchell and his colleagues could meet political leaders of the states in the American Zone. Clay gave them no hint of what was in store for them, and the invitation to Caux as guests, with their wives and children, was completely unexpected. Most of them had not been out of Germany since 1933, and many had been in prison. 'Their bewilderment gradually brightened into surprise and appreciation, as they glimpsed the chance of visiting a free country with good food and friends ready to receive them,' says Twitchell,5 noting that the Minister of Labour of North Rhine-Westphalia had been making do with 'two narrow slices of stale bread for breakfast and a few potatoes and decaying cabbage for lunch'. One of Buchman's Swiss colleagues, who did much of the pioneering work in Germany, told Buchman that, according to the Minister of Education in Hesse, infant mortality had risen to 20%, 10% of the youth had TB, 52% had one pair of shoes, while 11% had none, 23 % had no bed of their own and output per working man had gone back to half the pre-war standard.6
In the event, 150 Germans were to attend Caux that year, and nearly 4,000 more between 1948 and 1951.*
(* Dr Gabriele Müller-List, a German historian, gives the numbers as 150 in 1947, 414 in 1948, 1,364 in 1949, 1,111 in 1950 and 941 in 1951, ('Eine neue Moral für Deutschland? Die Bewegung für Moralische Aufrustung und ihre Bedeutung beim Wiederaufbau 1947-52'. In Das Parlament, 31 October 1981.) David J. Price, whose London University MA Dissertation is perhaps the most thorough academic study of the subject in English, states that 'most of the Minister-Presidents and leaders in industry and education' attended during these years. (The Moral Re-Armament Movement and Post-War European Reconstruction, p. 29.)
Their arrival at Caux made an indelible impression on those first Germans. One of them, Peter Petersen, who had been indoctrinated at a special Nazi school from the age of twelve and had emerged from the army cynical and bitter, described his reactions: 'We were met by a French chorus with a German song ….. We were already past masters at defending ourselves when we were attacked. But here the doors were wide open for us and we were completely disarmed.'7 'On one point especially the German guests agreed,' wrote the Berlin daily Tagespiegel. 'Nowhere in the world at the present time would Germans find such a warm welcome awaiting us as at Caux.'8
Buchman insisted that the emphasis at Caux must be upon Germany's future rather than her past, her potential rather than her guilt. Whether dealing with an individual or a nation he was only interested in reviewing past mistakes as a basis for discovering a new way forward. He simply treated the Germans exactly like everyone else.
This enabled Germans to consider both past and future as they had never done before. 'For years we German people praised, supported, and defended an illusion,' wrote Dr Erwin Stein, Minister of Education for Hesse, on his return from Caux. 'As a result, endless suffering befell many of the nations of Europe and the world because of Germany. Our task, as responsible Germans, is, once and for all, to build up a democracy inspired by God. Only on this basis will it endure, and Moral Re- Armament shows us clearly how this is to be done.'9
Another of these early visitors to Caux was Baron Hans Herwarth von Bittenfeld, then Director of the Bavarian Chancellery and later the first post-war German Ambassador in London, who has written of his part in the Resistance to Hitler in his book, Against Two Evils 1931-45.10 'It is one thing to fight an ideology,' he wrote at the time. 'The real answer is a superior ideology. At Caux we found democracy at work and, in the light of what we saw, we faced ourselves and our nation. It was personal and national repentance. Many of us Germans who were anti-Nazi made the mistake in putting the whole blame on Hitler. We learned at Caux that we, too, were responsible. Our lack of a positive ideology contributed to the rise of Hitler.'11
Reinhold Maier, Minister-President of Württemberg-Baden, was also at Caux in 1947. One night he saw a play about the heroic Norwegian journalist Frederik Ramm, And Still They Fight. He slipped away from the theatre and threw himself on his bed 'completely shattered' with shame at what his country had done. 'It was a presentation without hatred or complaint and therefore could hardly have been more powerful in its effect,' he wrote.12
Not all the German guests responded like Stein, Herwarth and Maier. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung correspondent wrote that some were unconvinced by the 'terrible simplification' of the Christian ethic,13 while Terence Prittie, then the Manchester Guardian man in Germany, wrote in 1979, 'To be honest, I think some politicians climbed on the bandwagon in order to get a free trip to Switzerland and to be treated like ordinary human beings.'14 But according to Professor Carlo Schmid, a leading Socialist, 'although some were disappointed and complained of too much activity, nearly all came home feeling fulfilled and even former Nazis made real inner changes'.15
Many of the German leaders, whose experience of democracy before the war had been so disappointing, were greatly taken by Buchman's conception of 'inspired democracy'. Hans Peters, Professor of Constitutional Law at Berlin University, not only spoke much of it at Caux that year but published a book in 194816 in which he analysed the various types of democracy through the ages and described 'inspired democracy', as conceived by Buchman, as the best form to answer the failures of the twentieth century.17
Buchman himself seldom led the plenary sessions during this period. He sometimes slipped in at the back, or took an armchair on the floor to the left of the speakers' platform where he could watch the audience. But most of his time was spent in his two rooms - a bedroom and a sitting room - on the same floor as the meeting hall. There he frequently took part in the preparation of meetings and saw a stream of individuals and small groups privately.
One of his most fruitful contacts that year was with Mme Irène Laure, the Secretary-General of the national organisation of socialist women and a recent Member of Parliament for Marseilles. A friend and disciple of Léon Blum, Irène Laure had tried to build friendship with pre-Hitler Germany. Thereafter she was disillusioned, and the experience of the Occupation, when she was a leader of the Resistance in Marseilles and her son was ill-treated by the Gestapo, turned this disillusionment to hatred. After the war she had witnessed the opening of a mass grave containing the mutilated bodies of some of her comrades.
Irène Laure came to Caux expecting a capitalist trap, and her suspicion turned to revulsion when she found there were Germans present. That some were the widows of men executed by Hitler after the July plot made no difference: whenever a German spoke, she left the hall. On one such occasion she met Buchman in the corridor. 'What kind of unity do you want for Europe?' he asked her. The question plagued her and, though her bags were packed to leave, she decided to stay on. Through sleepless nights, she struggled with her hatred. Finally, she decided that she must give it up. She asked to speak at a meeting.
The preparation for the meeting next morning could hardly have been less propitious. It was to be a German-speaking session, and Buchman, from his bed, around which the possible speakers were gathered, suggested that an Austrian Minister should speak. He refused. 'I was in a concentration camp for four years. I cannot speak with Germans,' he said. A young German said that if the Germans were guilty, the Austrians were no less so. A heated argument broke out. 'The young man is right,' interrupted Buchman. The preparation meeting broke up in some confusion, and those who expected to run the public session moved uncertainly towards the meeting hall. Just as they were about to start, Buchman, now fully dressed, climbed on the speaker's platform and took over.
After a little, Mme Laure, a small quietly dressed woman whose dynamism went unnoticed until she spoke, walked up to the front. Peter Petersen knew of her history and had been waiting with some compatriots ready, if she denounced Germany, to reply with stories of French 'atrocities' in the Black Forest. Instead Irène Laure said, 'I have so hated Germany that I wanted to see her erased from the map of Europe. But I have seen here that my hatred is wrong. I wish to ask the forgiveness of all the Germans present.'18
The effect on the Germans was electric. 'I was dumbfounded,' said Petersen later. 'For several nights it was impossible for me to sleep. All my past rose up in revolt against the courage of the woman. But we knew, my friends and I, that she had shown us the only way open to Germany if we wanted to join in the reconstruction of Europe.'19
The key moment, Mme Laure told me in 1982, was Buchman's question in the corridor. 'If at that moment he had pitied me or sympathised with me, I would have left. He gave me a challenge in love. It was the quality in him which arrested me - above all the tranquil look in his eyes. One felt his life corresponded exactly to his belief. He transmitted the feeling of certainty to you, that if you accepted change, you could have a part in the transformation of the world.'
'I was not interested in the Oxford Group as previously presented to me,' she explained. 'The ideology I saw at Caux involved giving mind, heart and body. Like Marxism in a way, but this was superior because the motive power was love.'*
(* On her return from Caux Irène Laure visited Léon Blum, who had been imprisoned in Dachau during the war. 'He told me that he had met Frank Buchman on a ship to America,' she recalls. 'He had a great respect for him.' Blum promised to help Mme Laure to free herself from her official responsibilities so that she could work fully with Moral Re-Armament.)
It was the same all-inclusive philosophy which appealed to the Germans, and while at Caux they distilled its essence into a booklet entitled Es Muss Alles Anders Werden (Everything Must be Different), which they determined to spread throughout Germany. But where would they get the paper in post-war Europe? A Swedish paper-maker in Caux provided enough for an edition of one and a half million copies, and the booklet was distributed in all four zones of Germany, including 450,000 in the Soviet zone. The Soviet police confiscated the stock of an Eisenach bookseller, mainly, it appears, because they read ideological significance into a picture of wolves coming, they thought, from the East; but the stocks were later restored to him. In Leipzig, too, it was removed from the bookstalls for a time, but returned. Lord Pakenham's estimate was: 'I applaud the spirit of co-operative Christianity that has produced the booklet. It shows the kind of spirit that Germany, and indeed all nations, require ... in these difficult times,'20 while General Clay wrote, 'I was pleased indeed to see representative Germans … return to Germany refreshed and invigorated in spirit. I was equally impressed with a pamphlet which is now being published in Germany by these German visitors to Caux which explains democracy in simple and moving terms.'21
Some others in the Foreign Office and the British Control Commission in Germany took an opposite view. In December 1947 a member of the Political Division in Germany was transferred to other work because of his support of Moral Re-Armament. His superior informed him, 'The attitude of HM Government to Moral Re-Armament in Germany is a strictly negative one . . . and it is not really possible for you to keep that detached (call it cynical if you like) attitude which is so important for sizing up and dealing with old foxes like Adenauer.' The recipient protested to General Robertson, who assured him that 'it is quite wrong to say that the policy of His Majesty's Government is a negative one; it is not'. The same division is apparent in the Foreign Office files. London-based officials frequently took a doubting, or even a hostile, line, but these were countered in memos by Lord Pakenham and another Under-Secretary of State, Christopher Mayhew.22
Leaving strong teams to follow up in Germany, in the British coalfields and in the French industrial North, where Irène Laure and industrialists she had met at Caux held an industrial assembly for a thousand at Le Touquet, Buchman sailed for New York on 10 October 1947, ten days after the Caux assembly ended. He had again been advised that he should seek a warmer climate for the winter but he did not, in fact, reach California until 16 January.
Buchman wanted to return to the United States to encourage his countrymen to become aware that the practical aid being provided by the Marshall Plan would be inadequate without a moral and spiritual infra-structure. He also wanted to offer Congressmen and Senators first-hand information, rare at that period, on the current European scene. In Mackinac, during his absence, the theatrical team which had been developed during the war had been at work. They had written a musical show which, when combined with the thoughts and talents of the young Europeans whom Buchman brought with him, became known as The Good Road. It dramatised the spiritual heritage of the West, tracing its Christian roots back to personalities in European and American history and applying their principles to the circumstances of the post-war world. This musical was presented in New York, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa and Washington, where it was seen by a third of all Senators and Congressmen.
Meanwhile Buchman and his colleagues saw many friends and public figures in the Eastern states of America. News of what had been happening through his work in Europe had already reached many of them. 'New hope for the moral and spiritual regeneration of the German people is held out to the world and to Germans themselves by the Moral Re-Armament movement, as a result of experience during its summer-long conference at Caux,' the New York Times correspondent had written.23
Buchman spent the late winter and spring in California. There he decided to mark his seventieth birthday, 4 June 1948, which was also the tenth anniversary of the launching of Moral Re-Armament, with a full-scale assembly to articulate the need for an ideology for democracy in the Americas. During this winter, too, a former residential club in Los Angeles was bought as a base for operations on the West Coast. The assembly itself was held at Riverside, some fifty miles outside the city.
Eighty-one Senators and Congressmen signed the invitation to the assembly, and a group of Dutch business men chartered a KLM plane to transport the European delegates. From Italy, France and Austria and from various German provinces came politicians from government and opposition who had been at Caux. Others included Denmark's 1947 Prime Minister, a British peer, the President of a regional Miners' Union in Britain and a Papal Chamberlain. From Asia came distinguished Indians, a Buddhist scholar and the former Japanese Ambassador to the United States, Kensuke Horinouchi, recalled before the war because he disagreed with the war party at home, but now re-established as President of the Foreign Training Institute, which was creating Japan's new diplomatic service.
The visitors were welcomed by a message of support from Paul Hoffman, the administrator of the Marshall Plan, who stated, 'You are giving the world the ideological counterpart of the Marshall Plan.'24 After the assembly the European delegates lunched with Secretary of State Marshall and Paul Hoffman in Washington. Marshall told the guests that, while Hoffman's work concerned material things and was an obvious necessity, a spiritual regeneration throughout the world was absolutely vital.25
Buchman stayed on in California after the assembly and then travelled back to Europe. In Paris on 6 August, between trains, he for the first time met Robert Schuman, who had been Prime Minister till the month before. Of this occasion Schuman said, 'Unhappily I had not enough time with Dr Buchman, barely twenty minutes, but he is a personality who made a deep impression on me.'
A Lille industrialist, Louis Boucquey, had first interested Schuman in Moral Re-Armament. He had met the then Prime Minister during a train journey and told him that industry in Northern France was working better, with closer relationships between labour and management, an improvement which he attributed to the change at Caux in Irène Laure and Robert Tilge, the Secretary of the regional employers, and the Moral Re-Armament assembly they had held at Le Touquet the previous autumn. At the end of the journey, Schuman said, 'Keep me in touch. I would like to meet this Dr Buchman.'
When he met Buchman, Schuman was Foreign Minister and involved in an extremely tense European situation. In protest against the reform of the German currency, Russia had blockaded Berlin. The Western Allies were replying with an airlift of food, fuel and all necessary supplies - a demonstration of their joint determination to carry through the economic rehabilitation of Germany - which lasted nearly ten months. During the early days of the blockade, Buchman wrote to Schuman, 'The country is safe in your hands. I do covet the opportunity of your coming to us at Caux.'26
Instead of Schuman there came to Caux on 11 September a man still comparatively unknown outside Germany, Dr Konrad Adenauer, who had recently become President of the Parliamentary Council of the three Western zones. Invited by one of his Christian Democrat party colleagues who had been at Caux in 1947, Adenauer arrived with most of his family and two secretaries. He listened, met many delegates and saw The Forgotten Factor. After the play he spoke to an audience which included President Enrico Celio of Switzerland. 'I have been here two days. I have attended meetings. I have spoken to people. I have observed very carefully and pondered my impressions,' he said. 'I admit that I came with some degree of scepticism, but I now gladly admit that, after two days and after consideration of my impressions, I have been completely convinced of the great value of Caux. I consider it a notable act in a time when evil so openly rules the world, that people have the courage to stand for good, for God, and that each one begins with himself. I believe, as do all who have come here from Germany, and it is my dearest wish, that the ideas of Caux will bear rich fruit a thousand fold.'27
Adenauer privately urged that The Forgotten Factor and The Good Road should go to Germany, as did Major-General Bishop, the British Commissioner for North Rhine-Westphalia - including the industrial Ruhr - who was at Caux that month. At the same time invitations arrived for The Good Road from the cabinets of North Rhine-Westphalia and Württemberg-Baden, headed by Minister-Presidents Karl Arnold and Reinhold Maier, and from Minister-President Ehard of Bavaria. The British, American and French administrations offered such facilities as were available, with the result that what was described as 'a most welcome invasion' began, the largest non-military operation in Germany since the war.28
1 Winston Churchill: The Second World War (Cassell, 1954), Vol. VI, p. 138 .
2 Forrestal Diaries (Cassell, 1952), p. 57.
3 At Harvard, 5 June 1947.
4 H. Kenaston Twitchell: Regeneration in the Ruhr (1981), pp. 8-12. I was present at the interview with Lord Pakenham (now Lord Longford) and personally confirmed this statement with him in 1981 in preparation for the publication of Twitchell's account.
5 Twitchell, p. 22.
6 Erich Peyer to Buchman, 15 April 1948.
7 Gabriel Marcel: Fresh Hope for the World (Longmans, 1960), p. 24.
8 Tagespiegel, 26 October 1947.
9 Leif Hovelsen: The Struggle for Post-War Europe, p. 3. (See 32 note 13.)
10 Hans von Herwarth: Against Two Evils 1931-45 (Collins, 1981); Zwischen Hitler und Stalin (Propyläen Verlag, 1982).
11 New World News, June 1948.
12 Reinhold Maier: Ein Grundstein wird gelegt 1945-47 (Tübingen, 1964), p. 383.
13 Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 5 October 1947.
14 Prittie in letter of 9 August 1979 to Price. (Price dissertation, The Moral Re-Armament Movement and Post-War European Reconstruction, p. 20.)
15 Schmid to Price, 8 October 1979. (ibid., p. 20.)
16 Hans Peters: Problematik der deutschen Demokratie (Origo Verlag, 1948).
17 Caux transcripts, 2 September 1947.
18 ibid., 13 September 1947.
19 For the complete story of Irène Laure and Peter Petersen, who later became a Member of Parliament, see Marcel, pp. 18-30.
20 Lord Pakenham to Jacob Kaiser, Chairman of the CDU in Berlin, 24 December 1947, quoted in Twitchell, pp. 32-3.
21 General Clay to Rear-Admiral Richard E. Byrd, 3 December 1947, quoted in Twitchell, p. 32. Twitchell includes a translation of Es Muss Alles Anders Werden (pp. 70-84).
22 Public Records Office, WD1111/1-2-4 of 6.1.50, F0371.70607, C81, C914, C10152, etc.
23 NewYork Times, 8 September 1947.
24 Los Angeles Herald and Express, 3 June 1948.
25 Twitchell, p. 40.
26 Buchman to Robert Schuman, 30 August 1948.
27 Caux transcripts, 12 September 1948. Adenauer's warm letter of thanks to Buchman, 22 September 1948, is reproduced in Hans Peter Mensing: Adenauer Briefe1947-1949 (Siedler Verlag, 1984).
28 Price, p. 31.