|'WHERE ARE THE GERMANS?'
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.'
Photo: On arrival at Caux Buchman appreciated much, but asked: "Where are the Germans? You will never rebuild Europe without the Germans."