'No,' they replied.

'Then go home and tackle it,' said Buchman. This was also a major theme of his speech in Copenhagen in late August on his way from Sweden to Switzerland.17 Some experiments had already been made, and Valdemar Hvidt wrote about them in Politiken18 while the Visby assembly was still in progress. The result was a national campaign. It began, according to the Scandinavian Review, when 'citizens in many towns, awakened to civic responsibility through the Oxford Group, began to tackle the problem of Denmark's 100,000 unemployed by spontaneous sacrifice'.19 The paper relates how the Socialist Prime Minister, Thorvald Stauning, 'expressed his own and the nation's gratitude for the surge of voluntary effort' and helped the initiators to gather a National Association for Combating Unemployment composed of fifteen prominent farmers, employers and trades union leaders, with Hvidt as chairman and Nielsen as an executive member. 'Each success in tackling unemployment', adds the Review, 'has been the outcome of a new spirit. The joint action of the fifteen is another instance of the putting aside of private and party ends for national service. The chief task, therefore, is to work constantly for that change in the individual throughout the country which calls forth new qualities of selfless national service.'*

First MRA assembly at Visby, Sweden

(* The methods used in this campaign and its social effects are outlined from official documents at the end of this chapter.)

Meanwhile, in the international field, some of the politicians who had been influenced by Buchman were among those who created an organisation called 'the Oslo States'. This was an attempt by the smaller countries of Europe to unite to avert war. The originator of the plan was the former Norwegian Prime Minister, J. L. Mowinckel, who had been reconciled to Hambro during Buchman's Norwegian campaign. Another participant was the Finnish Foreign Minister, Rudolf Holsti, who, in July 1938, had told the American press that Buchman and the Oxford Group 'have been able to penetrate the highest political and economic circles, bringing people together'.20 Another, J. A. E. Parijn, the Dutch Foreign Minister, who had spoken at the Utrecht demonstration, had gone with Buchman to Sweden to prepare the Visby assembly.

The editor of The Spectator, Wilson Harris, noted in his personal column that the co-operation of Hambro and Holsti at the League of Nations was due to their association in the Oxford Group. Harris wrote, 'Alike in their relation to Dr Buchman, the Norwegian and Finnish delegates are very different in other respects ... But both are transparently honest men.'21

A few weeks after the Visby assembly, the Foreign Ministers of the seven 'Oslo States' met in Copenhagen. They decided to work towards a more active concept of neutrality than, for example, Switzerland, and hoped to be able to confront Hitler with a united voice. This was accompanied by a rapid re-armament in Sweden; but the Oslo States were thrown into confusion by the Soviet-Nazi Pact and failed to maintain their unity in the pressures of war.


Photo: Moral Re-Armament in Sweden was launched in the ancient city of Visby.
©Arthur Strong/MRA Productions