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Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry
by Paul M. Bessel (1)
November 1994

A short time ago Nazis and Fascists announced and executed plans to eliminate Freemasonry by outlawing it, confiscating property belonging to Lodges, and imprisoning and murdering Masons. Despite that, even today there are some who write and speak making vicious attacks against Freemasonry. We should all learn more about the persecutions of the recent past, both to honor the Masons who suffered and so we can be prepared to oppose recurrence of this or any other form of bigotry.

Announcements of Nazi and Fascist plans to attack Freemasonry

Germany

Hitler publicly announced his plans long before he took power in Germany. In Mein Kampf, his autobiography written while serving a prison sentence for attempting to overthrow the democratic government in Germany in the early 1920's, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry had "succumbed" to the Jews and had become an "excellent instrument" to fight for their aims and to use their "strings" to pull the upper strata of society into their alleged designs. (2) Hitler continued, "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry" is then transmitted to the masses of society by the press. (3)

In 1931 Nazi party officials were given a "Guide and Instructional Letter" that stated, "The natural hostility of the peasant against the Jews, and his hostility against the Freemason as a servant of the Jew, must be worked up to a frenzy." (4)

Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933. On April 7, Hermann Goering, one of his top deputies, held an interview with Grand Master von Heeringen of the "Land" Grand Lodge of Germany, and told him there was no place for Freemasonry in Nazi Germany.(5)

The German Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Walter Darre, declared before a huge gathering that Freemasons are the "arch enemies of the German peasantry" and "planned to sabotage" Nazi policies.

Italy

In Italy, Mussolini

Spain

In Spain, Franco

Japan

Even in Japan the government tried to stir up attacks against Freemasonry. The Japanese delegate to the Weltdienst congress in 1938, Fujivara, said, "Judeo-Masonry is forcing the Chinese to turn China into a spearhead for an attack on Japan, and thereby forcing Japan to defend herself against this threat. Japan is at war not with China but with Freemasonry, represented by General Chiang-Kai-shek, the successor of his master, the Freemason Sun-Yat-Sen." (6)

Attacks against Freemasonry and Individual Masons by Nazis and Fascists

Events after World War 2

The destruction of Nazi German and Fascist Italy and Japan did not bring about the end of persecution of

Freemasonry, or of racial and religious groups.

Conclusion -- Why dictators oppose Freemasonry

Hitler and other dictators were obsessed with Freemasonry because for more than 200 years it has consistently been on the side of political freedom and human dignity. (7) During the 1800's, being a Freemason was tantamount to being a champion of democracy. It attracted the champions of human decency and thus also attracted the hatred of those who feared progress. Masonry is steeped in humanistic traditions. In 1938, Hitler's publishing house issued Freemasonry, Its World View (Weltanschauung), Organization and Policies, by Dieter Schwarz, with a preface by Heydrich, second in command of the Gestapo. To demonstrate why every new Nazi member must confirm by his word of honor that he does not belong to a Masonic lodge, it says:

"Masonic lodges are ... associations of men who, closely bound together in a union employing symbolical usages, represent a supra-national spiritual movement, the idea of Humanity ... a general association of mankind, without distinction of races, peoples, religions, social and political convictions." (8)

Although written by an enemy, this quote can be considered an excellent description of the value and importance of Freemasonry in the world.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremburg war crimes trial, said:

"It is not generally understood that among the earliest and most savage of the many persecutions undertaken by every modern dictatorship are those directed against the Free Masons.... dictators realize that its membership are not likely to support the police state, which lays so heavy a hand on the freedom of the individual.(9)

Some people who attack Freemasons, Jews, African-Americans, or any other group, may believe they are acting correctly. But the history of attacks against Freemasons and others shows that vicious attacks, especially when founded on arguments involving religion, have often led to murders. Once bigotry starts, if it is not stopped immediately the results can be more deaths and destruction. The legacy of those Freemasons who endured the persecution of Nazis and Fascists, and others throughout history who endured similar persecutions, is that people of good will must ACT to stop any form of intolerance against Masons, African-Americans, Jews, or any other fraternal, racial, or religious group.

The 1920's

Hungary

When the reactionary Horthy regime took power in 1919-1920 it marked the start of raids by army officers on Masonic lodges, together with thefts and sometimes destruction of libraries, records, archives, paraphernalia, and works of art. Masonic buildings were seized and used for anti-Masonic exhibitions. A decree of 1920 made Masonry unlawful.(10)

Germany

General Erich von Ludendorff, a German hero of World War 1, and his wife spread anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic propaganda during the 1920's. They wrote Annihilation of Freemasonry through Revelation of Its Secrets and other hate-filled material, which explained Germany's defeat in World War 1 as a knife in the back by Jews and Masons.(11)

Hitler publicly announced his plans long before he took power in Germany, but they were either ignored or not opposed effectively. In Mein Kampf, his autobiography written while serving a prison sentence for attempting to overthrow the democratic government in Germany in the 1920's, Hitler wrote that Freemasonry had "succumbed" to the Jews and had become an "excellent instrument" to fight for their aims and to use their "strings" to pull the upper strata of society into their alleged designs. (12) Hitler continued, "The general pacifistic paralysis of the national instinct of self-preservation begun by Freemasonry" is then transmitted to the masses of society by the press. (13)

Italy

On February 23, 1923, Mussolini's Fascist Council decided that Fascists who were Freemasons had to choose between the two. The Grand Orient replied that Fascist Freemasons were at liberty to give up Masonry and that such action would be in accord with the love of country which is taught in the lodge. Many Masons then resigned, and there followed a period of violence against Masons and destruction of their property. Grand Master Torrigiani appealed to Mussolini about this violence, but the response was a declaration in August 1924 that Fascists must disclose the names of Masons who were not in sympathy with the Fascist government. Committees were appointed to collect information about Freemasonry. In 1925 Mussolini gave an interview in which he said that while Masonry in England, America, and Germany was a charitable and philanthropic institution, in Italy Freemasonry was a political organization that was subservient to the Grand Orient of France. Most lodges ceased meeting, but the Italian Grand Orient continued through 1925. Mussolini then charged Italian Freemasons with being agents for France and England and opponents of Italy's military actions. Persecution increased and prominent Freemasons were assassinated. In January 1926 the government appropriated the Grand Orient building, which had already been looted. (14)

In 1924, General Cappello, one of the most prominent Fascists who had also been Deputy Grand Master of the Grande Oriente, Italy's leading Grand Lodge, gave up membership in Fascism rather than Masonry. Less than a year later, he was charged with in a palpable frame-up with complicity in an attempt on Mussolini's life and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. In 1925 Mussolini dissolved all Italian Freemasonry. The Grand Master of the Grande Oriente, Comizio Torrigiani, had the courage to stand up for democracy and freedom of thought in an open letter to Mussolini. He was exiled to the Lipari Islands in August 1932 and died soon afterwards. Hundreds of other prominent Italian Masons shared exile there. In 1925-1927 Mussolini's blackshirts looted the homes of well known Masons in Milan, Florence, and other cities, and murdered at least 100 of them. (15)

Spain

Until 1928 there were two Grand Lodges in Spain, the Grand Orient (headquarters in Madrid) and the Grand Lodge Espa˝ola (or Grand Lodge Cataluna, because its headquarters was in Barcelona). In September 1928 the Grand Orient was closed and many Masons were included among those arrested for allegedly plotting against the government. The Grand Master and five others were kept in prison when the others were released.

The 1930's

Germany

In 1931 Nazi party officials were given a "Guide and Instructional Letter" that stated, "The natural hostility of the peasant against the Jews, and his hostility against the Freemason as a servant of the Jew, must be worked up to a frenzy." (16)

Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933. On April 7, Hermann Goering, one of Hitler's top deputies, held an interview with Grand Master von Heeringen of the "Land" Grand Lodge of Germany, and told him there is no place for Freemasonry in Nazi Germany.(17)

According to Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, there were 9 principle German Grand Lodges, with a membership of almost 80,000. The largest of these were the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes, the National Grand Lodge of all German Freemasons, and the Grand Lodge Royal York of Friendship. (18)

National Grand Master Dr. Otto Bordes stated that if Goering's intentions should find general approval in the German cabinet, "there need be no question of the continuance of our Grand Lodge of Freemasons." A group of German Masonic leaders said they were told the Nazi government did not intend to prohibit the activities of the Lodge, but that they demanded the Masonic Order discontinue the use of the words "Freemason" and "Lodge," break all international relations, require that its members be of German descent, remove the requirement of secrecy, and discard all parts of the ritual which are of Old Testament origin. Dr. Bordes and his fellow Masonic officers changed the name of their organization from the "Association of German Freemasons" to "The National Christian Order of Frederick the Great" and ended all ritual work. They informed Nazi leaders Frick and Goebbels that they were no longer Freemasons, but apparently they continued some ritual work -- but with several very significant changes and allowing Nazi officials who were not members to be present. Dr. Bordes felt that these actions prevented more Masons from "deserting our cause," since those who continued to call themselves Freemasons were often boycotted in their business. Even so, by June 1933 the leaders of what was now the "National Christian Order of Frederick the Great" and the "German Christian Order of Friendship" (formerly the Grand Lodge of Prussia) told their members they had been unable to obtain from Nazi officials recognition of their organizations. They protested the continuing policy preventing their members from becoming members of the Nazi party because they were former Freemasons. (19)

The German Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Walter Darre, declared before a huge gathering that Freemasons are the "arch enemies of the German peasantry" and "planned to sabotage" Nazi policies.

The government of the Saxony province of Germany issued an order barring Freemasons from the public services such as teaching, and ordered that they should take heed of the "new State Government's attitude toward Masonry."

In 1934, Goering, as Premier of Prussia, ordered the dissolution of the three Masonic Grand Lodges in Prussia, the oldest and most influential in Germany. They were the Christian Grand Lodges, The Grand Lodge of the Three Globes, All German Freemasons, and Royal York of Friendship. (20) He declared there was no reason for their continued existence in view of the national unification created by the Nazis, and saying they might be regarded as hostile to the State because of their affiliations with international Masonry.(21)

A Nazi party court in Berlin published a decree barring from membership those who had been Freemasons for a number of years or who had received the higher degrees of the Order. Masonic Lodges were attacked for having borrowed much of their doctrine and ceremonies from "Semitic sources;" those who felt at home in such an atmosphere were said to be not wholly trustworthy as Nazis.

The Minister of Defense in Berlin issued an order forbidding members of the armed forces from belonging to Masonic Lodges or similar organizations, and requiring those who were members to immediately cancel their membership. Officers in the armed forces reserves were not admitted for training, but nevertheless when German Field-Marshall Paulus surrendered to the Soviet Union in 1943 he was denounced as being a "Highgrade-Freemason," despite the prohibition on Masons being in the armed forces.(22)

In October 1934 a young Austrian named Adolf Eichmann took a lowly job at the rank of sergeant in the "Second Bureau of the SD Haptant" a section of Heydrich's SD (Sicherheitsdienst; the secret security branch within the SS, the Nazi storm troops). Eichmann's secret job was to type index cards listing prominent German Freemasons. His work on the "international character" of the Freemasons brought him into contact with what the Nazis called "the Jewish question," and Eichmann soon developed a reputation for "steady industry" and as an expert on Jews. (23)

Also in 1934, Leo Muffelmann, the Grand Master and founder of the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Germany, died as a direct result of his incarceration in a concentration camp. His Grand Lodge established itself in Palestine until the end of World War 2. (24)

On August 8, 1935, Hitler's newspaper, Voelkischer Beobachter, announced the final dissolution of all Masonic Lodges in Germany, blaming Freemasonry for incidents as the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 which led to World War 1 and for supposedly seeking another war to create a world republic. President von Hindenburg issued a decree charging that Masonic Lodges had engaged in subversive activities. The Minister of the Interior ordered their immediate disbandment and confiscation of the property of all Lodges.

The Nazi inspector of schools in Germany traveled from town to town calling together meetings of citizens to tell them Freemasonry working in the map department of the German army in 1918 had committed treason by passing German military secrets to England. In 1936 the German Ministry of the Interior issued an order stating that those who had been members of Masonic Lodges when Hitler came to power in January 1933 were ineligible for appointment or promotion in the public service, and they were also prohibited from holding office in the Nazi party and the Storm Troops.

Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's principal deputy, claimed that all organizations opposed to the Nazis had been smashed, but warned that the "Judeo-Masonic world-conspiracy" was still pursuing its aim of undermining, poisoning, and destroying the German people." (25)

Goebbels said, in 1935, when the Soviet Union was admitted into the League of Nations, that the governments of the democracies that supported this must consist of "those 300 men" who are "members of the Jewish race and conspirators of Freemasonry."(26)

In 1936 the Berlin newspaper Der Angriff reported that Free Masons in the United States had assembled an air fleet of 18 planes piloted by Masons and each bearing the name of a prominent Mason. Its purpose was to join the fight against Franco's forces in Fascist Spain, and then to assist China which was fighting against Japan because Japan was supporting the Fascist states that oppose Masonry. (27)

By 1937 many among the prominent dignitaries and members of Masonic lodges were sent to concentration camps (earlier, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge "Zu den drei Weltkugeln," Dr. Bordes and his wife, were detained in a concentration camp for nine months),(28) and the Gestapo seized membership lists and looted their libraries and museums. Dr. Joseph Goebbels inaugurated an "Anti-Masonic Exposition" in Munich, including completely furnished Masonic temples. (29)

Since Freemasonry was considered an ideological foe of Nazism, special sections of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst; Security Service) and later the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; Reich Security Main Office) were established to deal with it. The SD determined that Freemasonry was not only a part of the "Jewish problem" but also an autonomous idealogy with political power, ruling the press and public opinion and motivating wars and revolutions. (30)

Austria

In 1934 and 1936 some of the most prominent Masonic lodges closed. On March 12, 1938, the Gestapo took possession of the Grand Lodge in Vienna, a mob broke in, and they plundered the records, silverware, paintings, statuary, and furniture. The Grand Lodge archives were lost. Grand Master Dr. Richard Schlesinger was arrested. He died shortly after his release as a result of harsh treatment. (31)

Czechoslovakia

Before the Germans took over, Czechoslovakia had two Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge Lessing zu den drei Ringen, which was largely Jewish and German-speaking, and the National Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia, which used the Czech language. Both were considered regular, and Dr. Eduard Benes, the Czech patriot was a Freemason belonging to the National Grand Lodge. When the German forces entered the country in March 1939 they had the names of 3-4,000 Freemasons, who were arrested quickly and some of whom were sent to concentration camps. Dr. J. Sedmik and Dr. V. Glavac were tortured for two years and then killed. Less than 5% of Freemasons escaped, some finding exile in England where they formed a Grand Lodge Comenius in Exile. (32)

France

In 1935 an organization called the Interparliamentary Group of Action Against Free Masonry was formed from members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate who were Fascist sympathizers. They declared, "The hour has come when Free Masonry must be struck down. A struggle to the death has been begun against it and the national forces must now fight without truce or respite." (33)

Spain

In 1935 in Spain the legislature adopted a law prohibiting any member of the armed forces from being a Mason. When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, the Grand Orient moved its headquarters to Brussels (later moving to Mexico). In October six Masons were hanged just for being Masons. (34) During the Spanish Civil War Franco's troops destroyed Masonic temples, confiscated Masonic property, and executed Masons. In Cordova all who were thought to be Masons were killed; in Granada lodge members were forced to dig their own graves and were then shot. Throughout Spain, Spanish Morocco, and the Spanish Canary Islands, Masons by the hundreds were killed or imprisoned just for being Masons. In Spanish Morocco all Masons who were found were shot; in Cadiz Masons were tortured and shot; in Seville the newspaper published the names of Masons so they could be hunted and killed; in Cordova all those thought to be Masons were killed; in Grenada all those whose names were on Masonic records for any reason were marched out of the city and killed after digging their own graves; in Malaga 80 Masons were garroted to death. (35) In 1938, Franco issued a decree ordering all symbols connected with Freemasonry to be obliterated from the gravestones of Masons buried in Spain. In 1939 Franco outlawed Freemasonry completely. It was a criminal offense, punishable by prison, for any man to have ever been connected with the Craft, or anyone who did not denounce Masonry and reveal to the police the names of all Masons with whom they had been associated. (36)

Portugal

Salazar seized dictatorial power in 1926. Freemasonry was suppressed in 1931 and its doors sealed by the police. Grand Master John Martin de Matos was secretly imprisoned in a hospital, supposedly "for his health." Masonry ceased to exist in Portugal. (37)

Japan

Even in Japan the myth of the Jewish-Masonic conspiracy was used, even though Jews were completely unknown there. The Japanese delegate to the Weltdienst congress in 1938, Fujivara, said, "Judeo-Masonry is forcing the Chinese to turn China into a spearhead for an attack on Japan, and thereby forcing Japan to defend herself against this threat. Japan is at war not with China but with Freemasonry, represented by General Chiang-Kai-shek, the successor of his master, the Freemason Sun-Yat-Sen." (38)

The World War 2 Years

Spain

Franco issued a decree on March 2, 1940, "for the suppression of Communism and Freemasonry," making Masonic membership a crime punishable by a six year prison sentence for those holding less than the 18th degree. It was reported that Masons in every town in Spain were "shot, murdered, or tortured." Franco's Minister of Justice claimed "only" 950 Masons had been jailed and 500 were released by 1945, although they were barred from employment or practice of their professions in Spain. (39) In 1940 a special Spanish military court was created to suppress Freemasonry. About 2,000 men were imprisoned for up to 30 years, depending on their rank and activity in Masonry. (40)

Channel Islands

When the Germans occupied France they also occupied the Channel Islands, small islands located just off the French coast but that have been ruled by Great Britain for centuries [give better explanation]. The island of Jersey was occupied by SS troops, who sacked the Jersey Masonic Temple, which had been built 1862-1864 and was equipped with remarkably beautiful Masonic furniture and a library of considerable value, starting in January 1941. A squad of specially trained men sent from Berlin sought material for an anti-Masonic exhibit in Berlin, and built a bonfire to destroy everything else. Later that year the Nazis forced the local Parliament in Jersey to pass an Act transferring all Masonic property, if any was left, to the government.(41)

Germany

In 1942, when World War 2 was in its fourth year and long after Freemasonry was supposed to have already been suppressed, Hitler himself issued an order stating, "Freemasons and the ideological enemies of National Socialism who are allied with them are the originators of the present war against" Germany, and therefore he ordered Alfred Rosenberg in cooperation with the armed forces to confiscate material from Masonic libraries, archives, and lodges for "scientific research work." (42) The Nazis set up museums, such as one in Nuremberg, in which they exhibited Masonic paraphernalia to ridicule the Craft. (43) An anti-Masonic exhibit put together by Alfred Rosenberg in Berlin included the following quotation:

"The Mystic darkness of Freemasonry has ceased to be a darkness long since. These 'secrets' have been brought to light and, since 1933 [when the Nazis came to power in Germany], the intrigues of the lodges have come to an end. It is all the more instructive when the world, and especially we Germans, are not being shown that the entire Freemasonry is an organization created and expanded deliberately by England fostering the ultimate aim of promoting and strengthening British world power. The close alliance with international Jewry was the safest way to obtain this...." (44)

Late in 1943 Himmler gave a speech claiming that espionage against Germany was carried out mainly by Jews and Freemasons. (45) He apparently failed to explain how this was possible if the Nazis had eliminated both groups from Germany.

According to the "Rheinische Zeitung" of the approximately 7,500 political victims of Fascism admitted by the KZ organization Hamburg, over 1,200 were Freemasons. (46)

Italy

Giovanni Preziosi rose to political power with his attacks against Freemasonry, international socialism, and Jews. In 1943 Mussolini was a prisoner of the Allies and the Germans were looking for new leaders to support in Italy. Preziosi so impressed Alfred Rosenberg that he was his candidate to head the new government. When Mussolini was freed to continue for a while as head of the government in northern Italy, Preziosi made broadcasts from Germany to Italy blaming the "Judeo-Masonic conspiracy" and demanding a purge of Freemasonry, and sent letters to Mussolini and Hitler warning them of the consequences of failing to cope with this "conspiracy." In 1944 Mussolini appointed Preziosi Inspector General of Race, with the rank of Ambassador, and he continued to complain that Italy was in the hands of Freemasons acting for the Jews. Preziosi asked Mussolini to appoint him head of what would have been an Italian Gestapo, but the Fascist government of Italy had not acted on this when it was overthrown in 1945. Preziosi committed suicide to avoid being killed by the crowd. (47)

France

When France was defeated by Germany in June 1940, the Vichy government (supposedly a continuation of the French government, but actually collaborators who did what they knew the Germans wanted) dissolved the Grand Orient and the Grand Lodge of France and seized and sold their property. Their headquarters were sealed with a death penalty for anyone who entered. Anti-Masonic museums were arranged, as in other countries. Individual Masons had their residences searched and they were banned from positions of command and often put out of their businesses and professions. Bernard Fay, who had written Revolution and Freemasonry, an anti-Masonic book before the war, was put in charge of anti-Masonic activities by the Vichy government. He caused the arrest of thousands of Freemasons, deportation of almost 1,000, the death of almost 1,000, and the seizure of much property. After the war he was tried and found guilty for his wartime actions, escaping a long prison term only by fleeing to Switzerland. At his trial he testified, "My mission was to organize a service for the detection of the Freemasons and the Masonic archives. To be successful in the work, I was obliged to have relations with the Germans, especially as they had an organization parallel with ours. (48)

Netherlands

In the Netherlands the Nazis started violent action against the Freemasons immediately after their invasion in 1940. Buildings, archives, and funds were confiscated, Masonic belongings were requisitioned, Masonic temples were destroyed, archives and books were taken to Germany, and property and furniture were sold at auctions. The extensive library which contained the world famous book collection of Kloss (donated by the former Grand Master Prince Frederik of the Netherlands) and other rare books and manuscripts was taken to Germany. This Bibliotheka Klossiana had been the subject of an offer of $5 million in 1930 by U.S. Freemasons. The Germans also seized the Master Hammer of the Grouten Oosten, which was made of pure gold, a gift to the Grouten Oosten on its 60th anniversary. (49) Under the auspices of the Germans, Dutch traitors organized an anti-Masonic exhibition which was shown in several of the larger cities. The "secrets" of the Masons were exhibited, covered with anti-Semitism, but the Dutch people disregarded this exhibition and after a few weeks it was closed down. Grand Master Hermanus van Tongeren, an ex-Major General, refused to compromise and was arrested in October 1940 without any reason being given. After being kept six months in an Amsterdam jail he was taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin (or Buchenwald), where he died of exhaustion after three months, March 29, 1941.(50) When he had been offered safe passage to England he said, "I have enjoyed the pleasures of being Grand Master, now I must also carry the burden." In 1939 there were about 6,000 Masons in the Netherlands; in 1945 only 2,000 had survived. (51)

On September 5, 1940, all Masonic Lodges in the Netherlands were disbanded by official decree. (52)

Belgium

When the Germans invaded Belgium they found an existing anti-Masonic sentiment. A movement called L'Epuration (the Purification) had been conceived two years earlier and had denounced the democratic regime as Judo-Masonry. In September 1940 it began the work of liquidating Freemasonry. According to Coil, lists of Masons were drawn up and delivered to the German officials (but Belgian Masons today point out that these lists were so inaccurate as to be useless), an anti-Masonic exhibit was opened in Brussels in January 1941 which was visited by 38-86,000 and which was displayed in other Belgian cities as well. (Belgian Masons even now feel these exhibits had a lasting effect on the Belgian public, causing an anti-Masonic feeling long after the war.) On August 26, 1941 the Germans ordered Masonic lodges dissolved immediately. The Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Georges Petre, and other high Masonic officials, F.E. Lartigue and F.E. Sasse, were shot in their homes December 1942 through February 1943. The entire library of the Scottish Rite in Belgium was sent to Berlin. (53)

The Nazis apparently considered the Belgians to be related racially, and so imposed a relatively soft occupation (this also resulted in many Belgians volunteering to wear German uniforms and fight on the Russian front). The German SS section assigned to deal with Masonry was apparently very active, since one of its officials apologized in a letter dated July 13, 1940, for delaying action against the Jews because all his efforts were concentrated in "fighting Freemasonry." Alfred Rosenberg traveled in person to Brussels later that month to examine the Masonic archives that had been seized. Fortunately, most of the documents and valuables, and Grand Orient funds, had previously been removed to safe places. The Grand Orient Grand Secretary and his assistant were arrested and questioned by the Germans to obtain a list of Masons from them, but they did not give any names and nevertheless were released unharmed in a few days. About 80 Belgian Masons were recorded as having died in concentration camps during the war, but a systematic examination of the Grand Orient archives revealed not a single document to prove any case of a Freemason being deported or executed by the Germans simply for being a Mason; all those deported were listed as being part of the Resistance or Jews in addition to being Masons. Amazingly, some of the Masons who were held in German concentration camps are knows to have done Masonic work while there, the Lodge Dear Freedom at Esterwegen and the Lodge Obstinate at the Fishbeck POW camp. A German-sponsored Belgian Anti-masonic League was founded in September 1940 to collaborate with the Germans in attempting to eradicate Masonry, and sad to say some former Masons cooperated with this League. The League even recruited a spy to infiltrate Belgian Masonry but it appears the information supplied by this spy, code-named "Mercador," was of no value. Also, surprisingly, in 1943 the Germans were challenged in court and lost when they attempted to sell confiscated Masonic property. These collaborators did achieve some of their aims, such as murdering some of the 33rd degree Masons just because of their positions, even though they were old men who had nothing to do with military activities. (54)

Norway

Norway was also invaded and occupied by Germany early in 1940. Soldiers were housed in the Masonic Temple and the public was invited to view Masonic records, especially correspondence with the Grand Lodge of England. On September 20, 1940, the Nazi authorities ordered the Masonic fraternity dissolved and the Temple emptied. Masonic buildings in the northern part of the country were destroyed, and the Temple in the capital of Oslo was made the headquarters for the collaborator Quisling's personal guards. (55)

Yugoslavia

There was only limited regulation of Masonry before World War 2 in Yugoslavia, with lodges required to file their laws and regulations with the government and agree that no Mason would be involved in revolutionary movements. But when the war broke out, Masonry was dissolved by decree, its property was confiscated, its members discharged from public service, many Masons were imprisoned, and two university professors were shot for being Masons. (56)

Europe in general

In 1945 Newsweek reported, "European Freemasonry has been persecuted more thoroughly in the last twenty years than ever before in its turbulent history. Mussolini strangled Freemasonry in Italy in 1925. Hitler annihilated the German lodges when he came to power, and later those in Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Greece. European Masons died, went underground, or fled." (57)

It was said that Nazis and Fascists hated Freemasons more than Jews. In Italy, anti-Semitism was recent and artificial, while the hatred of Freemasonry was old and deep. Hitler and Mussolini inaugurated their regimes with outrages against Masons and Masonic institutions and they have never relaxed the systematic persecution. Nazi conquests of other countries were followed by hostile actions, including vandalism and death, against Freemasons there. Yet these anti-Masonic actions hardly received any world attention.(58)

France

In France there had been an anti-Masonic and anti-Jewish ideology at least since the last 1800's, promoted, surprisingly, by French intellectuals who were also strongly nationalistic. This movement gained strength in the 1930's when Hitler's successes in Germany aroused rightist circles in France to exploit his propaganda methods with the cry of "Jews and Freemasons." Collaborators during the German occupation of France starting in 1940 issued anti-Masonic anti-Jewish pamphlets very similar to those being issued then in Germany. (59)

Attacks against Masonry since World War 2

Spain

In 1945 Franco gave an address in Spain charging foreign press attacks against him were the result of the "devilish machinations of the Freemasons hostile to God," and said to restore Spain it was necessary to "eradicate Freemasonry." That year the Spanish government sentenced 11 men to prison terms ranging from 12 to 16 years on a charge of rebellion for having written a pamphlet favorable to Freemasonry. In 1946 Mario Blasco Ibanez was condemned by a court in Valencia, Spain, to 12 years imprisonment for having belonged to the Masonic Order some years previously. At the time of his prison sentence, Ibanez was paralyzed, blind, and deaf as a result of polio. (60) in 1949 and 1950 Franco was still spending a great deal of effort trying to suppress Freemasonry in Spain. (61)

Communist regimes

By November 1947 the Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia had recovered enough to open for work, but the Communists took over the government, Dr. Benes, a Czech patriot who was a Mason, was murdered, and Freemasonry was again blotted out. (62)

In March 1946 the government in Hungary annulled the anti-Masonic decree of 1920 and restored Freemasonry to a legal status. However, a decree of June 13, 1950 again dissolved the lodges as "meeting places of the enemies of the people's democratic republic, of capitalistic elements, and of the adherents of Western imperialism." (63)

Communist continuation of antagonism against Freemasonry after the end of the Nazi regime, and continuation of Franco suppression of Freemasonry in Spain

Iran

[article in Philalethes magazine couple of years ago]

United States

In 1991 Pat Robertson, who has a good deal of influence in the United States, published The New World Order. In that book he attempted to exonerate individual Masons, but condemned "the Masonic connection" with phrases such as Masonic power, dark side, international conspiracy, occult, Rothschilds, Jews, wealth, secret society, and world power. Others also attack Masonry today as allegedly promoting devil worship, leading religious men away from the "right" way to find God, or being inconsistent with the religious beliefs of certain denominations. These people who attack Masonry with exaggerated language, and without accepting reasonable explanations of what Freemasonry really is, would probably say that their use of language about Masonry that is strikingly similar to that which was used by the Nazis and other vicious attackers of Freemasonry in the past does not mean that they are following in the footsteps of the Nazis. But certainly fair people would understand that those who have suffered so much persecution and death at the hands of people who used this type of language would rightly be very frightened to see it being used in America in the 1990's. It is difficult to believe that the lessons of such a recent past may already be forgotten.

Conclusion -- Why dictators oppose Freemasonry

Hitler and other dictators were obsessed with Freemasonry because for more than 200 years its leaders have consistently been on the side of political freedom and human dignity. (64) During the 1800's, being a Freemason was tantamount to being a champion of democracy. It attracted the champions of human decency and thus also attracted the hatred of those who feared progress. Masonry is steeped in humanistic traditions. In 1938, Hitler's publishing house issued Freemasonry, Its World View (Weltanschauung), Organization and Policies, by Dieter Schwarz, with a preface by Heydrich, second in command of the Gestapo. To demonstrate why every new Nazi member must confirm by his word of honor that he does not belong to a Masonic lodge, it says:

"Masonic lodges are ... associations of men who, closely bound together in a union employing symbolical usages, represent a supra-national spiritual movement, the idea of Humanity ... a general association of mankind, without distinction of races, peoples, religions, social and political convictions." (65)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremburg war crimes trial, said:

"It is not generally understood that among the earliest and most savage of the many persecutions undertaken by every modern dictatorship are those directed against the Free Masons.... dictators realize that its membership are not likely to support the police state, which lays so heavy a hand on the freedom of the individual.(66)

Some people who attack Freemasons, Jews, African-Americans, or any other group, may believe they are acting correctly. But the history of attacks against Freemasons and others shows that vicious attacks, especially when founded on arguments involving religion, have often led to murderous actions. Once bigotry starts, if it is not stopped immediately the results can be more deaths and destruction. The legacy of those Freemasons who endured the persecution of Nazis and Fascists, and others throughout history who endured similar persecutions, is that people of good will must ACT to stop any form of intolerance against Masons, African-Americans, Jews, or any other fraternal, racial, or religious group.

Bibliography (books and articles used in preparing this paper)

article: "Freemasons" citation
book: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
editor in chief: Israel Gutman
year of publication: 1990
publisher: MacMillian Publishing Co., New York
availability: United States Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

articles: "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War" (series of articles)
author: Charles Grant Hamilton
magazine: The New Age (official organ of the Supreme Council 33 A.& A. Scottish Rite
dates of publication: November 1948 through October 1949
Part 1 November 1948 Introduction; Foreword; and Freemasonry in Spain
Part II December 1948 The Netherlands
Part III January 1949 Freemasonry in Belgium
Part IV February 1949 Freemasonry in Norway
Part V March 1949 Freemasonry in France
Part VI April 1949 Freemasonry in Czechoslovakia
Part VII May 1949 Freemasonry in Denmark
Part VIII June 1949 Freemasonry in Poland
Part IX July 1949 Freemasonry in Austria
Part X August 1949 Freemasonry in Italy
Part XI September 1949 Freemasonry in Germany - I
Part XII October 1949 Freemasonry in Germany - II, and Conclusion
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere
author: Ray V. Denslow
year of publication: 1954
publisher: the author
note: also published as Transactions of the Missouri Lodge of Research, volume II, 1954
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: Mein Kampf
author: Adolf Hitler (translated by Ralph Manheim)
year of publication: 1971 (written in 1923)
publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston
availability: Arlington County (Virginia) public library

book: Warrant for Genocide
author: Norman Cohn
year of publication: 1966
publisher: Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evanston
availability: Arlington County (Virginia) public library, catalog number 301.452, C678w

book: The Mythology of the Secret Societies
author: John M. Roberts
year of publication: 1972
publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons, New York
availability: Arlington County (Virginia) public library, catalog number 366.9/R645m

book: Jews and Freemasons in Europe 1723-1939
author: Jacob Katz (translated from Hebrew by Leonard Oschry)
year of publication: 1970
publisher: Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia
author: Henry Wilson Coil
year of publication: 1961
publisher: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Company, Inc., New York

book: Fictions of Freemasonry: Freemasonry and the German Novel
author: Scott Abbott
year of publication: 1991
publisher: Wayne State University Press, Detroit
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

magazine: The New Age, (official organ of the Supreme Council 33, A.&A. Scottish Rite)
date of publication: issues dated March 1939, October 1938
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

releases from the Associated Press, June 18, 1939, August 8, 1935, March 1935
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

releases from United Press, September 16, 1936
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

releases from the Scottish Rite News Bureau, October 25, 1937, February 15, 1937
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews
author: Karl A. Schleunes
year of publication: 1970
publisher: University of Illinois Press, Urbana
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War
author: Martin Gilbert
year of publication: 1985
publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: The New World Order
author: Pat Robinson
year of publication: 1991
publisher: Word Publishing, Dallas
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: Living the Enlightenment
author: Margaret C. Jacob
year of publication: 1991
publisher: Oxford University Press, New York
availability: House of the Temple (Scottish Rite) Library & Museum, Washington, D.C.

book: Eichmann: His Career and Crimes
author: Charles Wighton
year of publication: 1961
publisher: Odhams Press Ltd., London
availability: United States Holocaust Museum and Research Center, Washington, D.C.

book: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression
year of publication: 1946
issued by: United States Government Printing Office
availability: United States Holocaust Museum and Research Center, Washington, D.C.

book: Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal Nuremburg 14 November 1945 - 1 October 1946
year of publication: 1949
availability: United States Holocaust Museum and Research Center, Washington, D.C.

article: "Freemasonry in Jersey"
author: A.C.F. Jackson
periodical: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum
date of periodical: 1973, volume 86, page 177
availability: George Washington Masonic National Memorial Library, Alexandria, Virginia

book: Anti-Masonry
author: Alphonse Cerza
year of publication: 1962
publisher: Missouri Lodge of Research
availability: George Washington Masonic National Memorial Library, Alexandria, Virginia

article: "The Annihilation of Freemasonry"
author: Sven G. Lunden
magazine: The American Mercury
date of publication: February 1941
availability: Arlington County (Virginia) public library, microfilm

article: "Masons but Not Free"
magazine: Newsweek
date of publication: June 25, 1945
availability: Arlington County (Virginia) public library, microfilm

book: Two Centuries of Persecution: Freemasonry in Italy
source: reprint from the Masonic World of the Grand Lodge AFAM of Missouri
author: Ray V. Denslow
year of publication: 1948
publisher: Missouri Lodge of Research

book: Franco: A Biography
author: Paul Preston
year of publication: 1994
publisher: Basic Books, A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc.
availability: Fairfax County (Virginia) public library; catalog number B,Franco,1994

Endnotes

1. This paper is the result of information obtained from the written sources listed in the Bibliography, as well as the extremely useful information compiled and submitted by Masons who exchange messages and information about Masonry on the Masonry Forum of the Compuserve computer on-line service. Special assistance was provided by Ms. Joan E. Kleinknecht, Library at the Scottish Rite House of the Temple in Washington, DC, and MW Donald M. Robey, Secretary-Treasurer of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, and supervisor of its library.

2. Since the 1880's, with the rise of political anti-Semitism in Europe, Masonic Lodges had often been closed to Jews. The anti-Jewish views of German Masonic Lodges was borne out by the fact that few Jews were members by the 1920's. Still, anti-Masons and anti-Semites persisted in their lies that Masonic Lodges were a cover for a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Christianity, especially Catholicism. See the article, "Freemasons," in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, volume 2, pages 530-531.

3. Hitler, Mein Kampf, at pages 315 and 320.

4. Gilbert, The Holocaust, at page 30, citing Morley, The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror, page 234.

5. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," American Mercury, February 1941, at page 184, and also see, Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, September 1949, page 552.

6. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, at page 242, citing H. Rollin, L'Apocalypse de notre temps, p. 514.

7. The Nazi Primer, the Official Handbook for the Schooling of Hitler Youth, attacked Free Masons, Marxists, and the Christian Churches for their "mistaken teaching of the equality of all men" by which they were said to be seeking power over the whole world. See The New Age, October 1938, pages 589-591.

8. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," in American Mercury, February 1941, at pages 187-191.

9. Introduction to the first of the articles on "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, November 1948.

10. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 58.

11. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 60; Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," American Mercury, February 1941, at page 185; and Abbott, Fictions of Freemasonry, at page 158. Ludendorff's book has recently been reprinted in Los Angeles, hopefully just for historical research as with Mein Kampf, but some fear in an effort to spread his ridiculous and totally unproven ideas.

12. Since the 1880's, with the rise of political anti-Semitism in Europe, Masonic Lodges had often been closed to Jews. The anti-Jewish views of German Masonic Lodges was borne out by the fact that few Jews were members by the 1920's. Still, anti-Masons and anti-Semites persisted in their lies that Masonic Lodges were a cover for a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Christianity, especially Catholicism. See the article, "Freemasons," in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, volume 2, pages 530-531.

13. Hitler, Mein Kampf, at pages 315 and 320.

14. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 59.

15. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," American Mercury, February 1941, at pages 185-186.

16. Gilbert, The Holocaust, at page 30, citing Morley, The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror, page 234.

17. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," American Mercury, February 1941, at page 184, and also see, Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, September 1949, page 552.

18. "Germany" and "Anti-Masonry" citations in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, at pages 281 and 60.

19. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, September 1949, at pages 552-554, and "Anti-Masonry" citation in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 60. Coil refers to Dr. Bordes' letter, saying the objectives of Freemasonry and Nazism were the same, as being "one of the most remarkable statements ever emanating from anyone who had ever been connected with Freemasonry."

20. "Anti-Masonry" citation in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 60.

21. In 1934 Goering decreed the dissolution of the three largest Grand Lodges in Germany, which were known as Christian Grand Lodges and only admitted Christians. But in 1934 the Ministry of the Interior issued a memorandum providing no further restrictions against the old Prussian lodges (Grand National Mother Lodge of the Three Globes, Grand Lodge of Friendship, and Grand National Lodge of Germany). See, Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, page 110.

22. Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, at page 111, citing a letter from Dr. Otto Arnemann in 1947.

23. Wighton, Eichmann: His Career & Crimes, pages 48-51; and Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz, at pages 201-202.

24. Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, at page 109.

25. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, page 202.

26. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, at page 203, citing J. Streicher, "Der Feind des V÷lkerfriedens" in Der Judenkenner, No. 5 (March 1935), p. 94.

27. Reported by United Press, September 16, 1936.

28. Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, page 111.

29. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry, American Mercury, February 1941, page 186.

30. "Freemasons," in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, volume 2, page 531, citing Katz, Jews and Freemasons in Europe.

31. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, pages 60-61.

32. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 61.

33. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, March 1949, page 149.

34. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 59.

35. Scottish Rite News Bureau bulletin, February 15, 1937, in the files at the Scottish Rite House of the Temple in Washington, DC.

36. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, November 1948, pages 655-656.

37. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 59.

38. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, at page 242, citing H. Rollin, L'Apocalypse de notre temps, p. 514.

39. "Masons but Not Free," Newsweek, June 25, 1945, pages 114-115.

40. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, November 1948, page 655.

41. Jackson, "Freemasonry in Jersey," in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 20786 London, volume 26, for the year 1973, at pages 210-214.

42. Rosenberg was an early Mason-hater and anti-Semite. Between 1919 and 1923 he produced innumerable articles and five pamphlets on the supposed world-conspiracy of Jews with and without the Masons. Same source as above, at page 195.

43. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, October 1949, at pages 611-613.

44. Jackson, "Freemasonry in Jersey," in AQC, volume 26, 1973, at page 214. The Berlin anti-Masonic exhibit was said by the Nazis to be "based on the comprehensive Masonic material originating from the lodges of the British Island of Jersey."

45. Trial of the Major War Criminals (Nuremberg), volume XXXVII, page 498.

46. Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, at page 111.

47. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pages 246-248.

48. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 61; Cerza, A Masonic Reader's Guide, Transactions of the Missouri Lodge of Research, volume 34, 1978-1979, page 164; and Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, page 178.

49. Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression, published by the U.S. Government in 1946, volume III, page 203.

50. See, Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, at page 146, and 151.

51. Information about Nazi attacks against Freemasonry in the Netherlands was supplied in 1994 by Richard W. Lodge, from Mark Sandstrom and Allen Elliott, all active participants in the Masonry Forum of the Compuserve computer on-line service.

52. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, December 1948, page 717.

53. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 61.

54. Information provided in 1994 by Jacques Huyghebaert, a Belgian Mason who is an active participant on the Masonry Forum of the Compuserve online computer service. Also see, Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, January 1949, pages 23-24.

55. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, pages 61-62.

56. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 61.

57. "Masons but Not Free," Newsweek, June 25, 1945, pages 114-115.

58. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," in American Mercury, February 1941, pages 184-191.

59. Katz, Jews and Freemasons in Europe, 1723-1939, at pages 194-195.

60. Hamilton, "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," The New Age, November 1948, page 654-655.

61. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 59.

62. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, page 61.

63. "Anti-Masonry" article in Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, pages 58-59.

64. The Nazi Primer, the Official Handbook for the Schooling of Hitler Youth, attacked Free Masons, Marxists, and the Christian Churches for their "mistaken teaching of the equality of all men" by which they were said to be seeking power over the whole world. See The New Age, October 1938, pages 589-591.

65. Lunden, "The Annihilation of Freemasonry," in American Mercury, February 1941, at pages 187-191.

66. Introduction to the first of the articles on "Freemasonry, A Prisoner of War," in The New Age, November 1948.