Frank Buchman did not simply want the financial support of his wealthy patrons. He wanted their fame and glory too. If a famous person made a remark even slightly favorable to Buchman, he would have the quote reproduced in Group pamphlets as advertising. He would suggest that any celebrity he had met was not simply polite or agreeable, but a follower. Even when this was not true.
Buchman did not wait for the well heeled to find him. He sought out celebrities and aristocrats, and tried to force a meeting wherever he was not granted one. He once abruptly cancelled his appearance at a large Group gathering, saying he felt “guided” to take a luxury steam liner, which just so happened to be transporting the Prince of Wales.
Another time, he invited group members to a house party in a posh hotel with the promise they could meet the Queen Marie of Romania. Yet he had not asked the queen’s permission. She had no plans to see him, but when Buchman and a large contingent of followers showed up on her hotel room doorstep, she grudgingly permitted them entry for a short time.
One historically significant wealthy Buchmanite was Katherine von Hanfstaengl, an American heiress married to a Bulgarian noble. She attended House Parties in New England before moving to Bulgaria, and the Hanfstaengl family hosted Buchman at their family home in Bulgaria. One other ambitious though much younger man the Hanfstaengl family hosted frequently was Adolf Hitler. It is possible the two men met there in the 1920s, but not definitive.
What is known is that Buchman, a native speaker of English and German, wanted to know and “change” the Führer once he was in power. Buchman was a fan of fascism, and used cultic double speak to dub a “God-controlled” life of constant obedience as “true democracy”. He did not see Hitler, even in the 1930s and 40s, as a threat to humanity. Buchman saw in Hitler a way to control Germany ” for God” (for Frank), who he imagined was a capitalist.
“I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front-line defense against the anti-Christ of communism…. My barber in London told me Hitler saved all Europe from communism. That’s how he felt. Of course I don’t condone everything the Nazis do. Antisemitism? 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 problem.”
– Frank Buchman, 1936
How flippantly and casually Buchman brushed aside the matter of genocide, “bad, naturally”. He could not condemn the man he so admired, nor its dictatorial nature. After all, he was constantly admonishing his followers to seek ” the dictatorship of God”. Buchman quite liked the idea of unquestioned power, and wanted to be the power behind the throne.
Of course, Hitler was not the only Nazi power player Buchman sought to collect. Buchman attended Nuremberg rallies and Nazi Party Day events, always expressing admiration as he did so. Heinrich Himmler, called the architect of the Holocaust, succumbed to the combined efforts of Buchman and Mrs. Himmler, a long time Groupist, and appears to have joined Buchman’s Group in 1935. Buchman was Himmler’s personal guest at the Berlin Olympics of 1936.