Right wing extremists and groups

Return to list

Right wing extremists and groups

The Buchmanite Movement/Oxford Group/Moral Re-Armament (MRA) Group (KV 5/66-69)

This series of four reconstituted and heavily weeded files document the Security Service's interest in the 'personal religion' founded by Dr Frank Buchman in the 1930s. This "Oxford Group" believed that the safety of the world lay in spreading the principles of absolute unselfishness, honesty, purity and love under God, but the Group first attracted the Service's attention when Buchman issued his infamous remark in 1937: "Thank God for a man like Adolf Hitler who has built a front line of defence against the anti-Christ of Communism."

The fears that the Group might be a front for Nazi propaganda or fifth columnists sparked a flurry of investigations (KV 5/66, 1941-1950). The fears were fuelled by Buchman's personal acquaintance with many leading Nazi figures, including Himmler. Buchman proposed moral re-armament (MRA) as the way to prevent war, and his activities in the UK and Europe were seen as supporting appeasement and, in the countries most easily over-run by the German military, as encouraging a reluctance to resist the invaders. The slogan "MRA not ARP" was much reported. However, by May 1943, when Buchman was active preaching the same message in the United States, the Service had concluded that there was "…no evidence that the Oxford Group has been penetrated by the German secret services" (serial 214b).

After the War, the group encouraged an MRA approach to industrial relations, which became popularly associated with the cause of the employers and against that of the unions in, for example, the docks and mines. Serious consideration was given to allying with the MRA against British Communism, though the idea was rejected (KV 5/67, 1950-1952, minute 355: "…we do not think it advisable to enter into any direct relations with MRA which might enable the latter to claim they have common cause with HMG…we are not uninterested in the some success MRA have achieved in the conversion of communists"). This file discusses the possibility of passing warnings to MRA contacts about communist plots and threats against MRA. The remaining files (KV 5/68-69, 1952-1957) detail MRA's ongoing activities, particularly in the British colonies and Commonwealth.