The Buchman Interview
Here is the entire text of the famous World Telegram interview where
Frank Buchman declared, "I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler..."
HITLER OR ANY FASCIST LEADER CONTROLLED BY GOD COULD CURE ALL ILLS OF WORLD,
By William A. H. Birnie,
World-Telegram Staff Writer
To Dr Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman, vigorous, outspoken,
58-year-old leader of the revivalist Oxford Group, the Fascist dictatorships
of Europe suggest infinite possibilities for remaking the world and putting
it under "God Control".
"I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built
a front line of defense against the anti-Christ of Communism, " he said today
in his book-lined office in the annexe of Calvary Church, Fourth Ave and
"My barber in London told me Hitler saved Europe from
Communism. That's how he felt. Of course, I don't condone everything the
Nazis do. Anti-Semitism? Bad, naturally. I suppose Hitler sees a Karl Marx
in every Jew.
"But think what it would mean to the world if Hitler
surrendered to the control of God. Or Mussolini. Or any dictator. Through
such a man God could control a nation overnight and solve every last, bewildering
Dr Buchman, who is directing an Oxford house-party tonight
at the Lenox, Mass. estate of Mrs Harriet Pullman Schermerhorn, returned
from Europe aboard the Queen Mary, after attending Oxford meetings
in England and the Olympic Games in Berlin.
A small, portly man, who doesn't smoke or drink and
listens quietly to "God's plans" for a half hour or so every day, usually
before breakfast, Dr Buchman talked easily about world affairs while eight
or nine Oxfordites -- good-looking young fellows in tweeds -- sat on the
floor and listened.
"The world needs the dictatorship of the living spirit
of God," he said and smiled, adjusting his rimless glasses and smoothing
the graying hair on the back of his head. "I like to put it this way. God
is a perpetual broadcasting station and all you need to do is tune in. What
we need is a supernatural network of live wires across the world to every
last man, in every last place, in every last situation...
"The world won't listen to God but God has a plan for
every person, for every nation. Human ingenuity is not enough. That is why
the isms are pitted against each other and blood falls.
"Spain has taught us what godless Communism will bring.
Who would have dreamed that nuns would be running naked in the streets? Human
problems aren't economic. They're moral and they can't be solved by immoral
measures. They could be solved within a God-controlled democracy, or perhaps
I should say a theocracy, and they could be solved through a God-controlled
He looked around the room at the eight or nine young
men drinking in his words, and straightened the crimson rose in his button
"Suppose we here were all God-controlled and we became
the Cabinet," he said. "You" -- pointing at the reporter, who seldom ventures
off the pavements of Manhattan -- "You would take over agriculture. You"
-- a Princeton graduate beamed -- "would be Mr Hull. Eric here, who has been
playing around with a prominent Canadian who's Cabinet is
material1, would be something else, and
this young lawyer would run the Post Office.
"Then in a God-controlled nation, capital and labour
would discuss their problems peacefully and reach God-controlled solutions.
Yes, business would be owned by individuals, not by the State, but the owners
would be God-controlled."
The Oxford Group has no official membership lists, no
centralised organisation, but Dr Buchman estimated that "literally millions"
listened in to his recent world broadcast from the meeting in England attended
by 15,000 persons. Finances?
"God runs them," he smiled. "Don't you say every day,
Give us this day our daily bread? And don't you receive?"
The group is built on the simple thesis that there is
a divine plan for the world and that human beings, with faith and devotion,
can receive God-given guidance in a "quiet time" of communion. Most Oxfordites
write down their guidance and then check it against the "four absolutes"
-- absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, absolute
"Those are Christ's standards," Dr Buchman explained.
"We believe that human nature itself can be changed by them. We believe in
answering revolution by more revolution -- but revolution within the individual,
and through the individual, revolution in the nation, and, through the nation,
revolution in the world. It's as simple as that -- Christian simplicity.
And it's fun, too. We call each other by our first names and our meetings
are always informal.
"I held meetings at the Republican and Democratic
conventions. What Washington needs is God-control. Landon talks about divine
guidance. Why doesn't he apply it? And the finest thing Roosevelt ever said
was this -- 'I doubt if there exists any problem, political or economic,
which would not melt before the fire of spiritual awakening'.
"Oxford is not a one-way ticket to heaven, although
that's a splendid thing and lots of people need it. It's a national ticket,
too. That's the ticket we should vote in this coming election -- God's
Dr Buchman is unmarried, a graduate of Muhlenberg College,
which awarded him a doctorate of divinity in 1926. He said he was "changed"
-- Oxfordites use the word to mean complete surrender to God control -- by
a gradual process.
"I was in England and I began to realise I was a sinner
and there was an abyss between Christ and me," he said. "I was resenting
my lost power and I was confessing others' sins when the real problem was
mine. Then I went to church.
"A vision of the Cross. Of Christ on the Cross. An actual
vision. I was changed then, but I've been changing ever since. A little even
today, I suppose."
"And when was the vision, Dr Buchman?"
"Let's see," he said, and rustled some pamphlets in
his hand. "Let's see -- what year was the vision?"
He looked around at the faces turned toward him. "What
year was the vision?" he repeated. One of the young men spoke up. "1908,
wasn't it, Dr Buchman?"
Dr Buchman smiled at him.
"Of course," he said. "That was it. 1908."
1 Sic. There may be an error in the transcription, or a misprint,
here. Elsewhere in the interview a few obvious misprints have been corrected.
[Tom Driberg's words]
The New York World Telegram, August 26, 1936, quoted
The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament; A Study of Frank Buchman and His
Movement, Tom Driberg, 1965, pages 68-71.
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Last updated 2005/04/30