Secret Society Under Fire: 7 Facts about the Freemasons During World War II

Cornish Memory

Freemasons are fraternal organizations that trace their beginnings all the way back to the fraternities of stonemasons in the 14th century. It the world’s oldest and largest fraternity and many of the greatest men in history were members. It is a group that has been called secretive and some suggest that it controls world governments behind the scenes.

However, discussions of religion or politics are not allowed during Lodge meetings. The group focuses more on brotherhood and service to their country and their community. In fact, Freemasons donate $2 million to charity every day. But despite the lack of political or religious basis for the Freemasons, they still found themselves persecuted as political prisoners by the Nazis during World War II.

Erich Ludendorff. Wikipedia

In 1927, The Destruction of Freemasonry Through the Exposure of Its Secrets Was Published

Erich Ludendorff was a former chief of the German Army’s General Staff during WWI. Following the end of the war he put more of his effort into politics and was an outspoken critic of the Freemasons. He often openly attacked Masonic Lodges with his words and his writings, including his 1927 publication The Destruction of Freemasonry Through the Exposure of Its Secrets.

In the book, Erich Ludendorff claimed to have the insider knowledge of all the rituals, practices and true beliefs of the Freemasons. However, what he did was distort what he knew of the Masonic lodges in order to push the growing propaganda against the Freemasons. He made up false rituals and distorted the true rituals of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Germany to instill fear and hatred. He also wrote about “training” that Freemasons went through in order to become what he called artificial Jews.

The publication by Ludendorff was largely based upon other anti-masonic writings that came out during the 19th century. The book was recognized as poorly researched and poorly written. Ludendorff had to use his own publishing house and then his publications were only sold in Ludendorff book stores before regular bookstores would boycott them. Some of the reviews of the book said that it seemed that Ludendorff was mentally ill. Another review recognized that the book was a gathering of nonsense and prejudices.

The despicable piece was the first thing that made all the Masonic lodges in Germany agree with each other. Prior to the publication lodges in Germany had been split between what were known as Humanitarian Lodges and Old Prussian Lodges. However, all of the Grand Masters came together on September 15, 1927 in order to reject the depiction of Freemasonry in Ludendorff’s publication. The Grand Masters called it an “indictment against the German nation” and “misleading the masses.” This would be the only time that the Grand Masters would unite against an accusation by the Nazis.  Despite all the backlash to the publication, many of Ludendorff’s ideas would become part of the anti-masonic campaign of the Nazis.

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  • Ken McConnell

    Much better than expected. Thank you.

  • MichaelLust

    If there is anything despots and autocrats all hate and fear, the privacy of citizens, engaged with one another, talking and working with one another, beyond the control of their secret police.

  • Timpic

    Interestingly during the American Revolution all secret societies were made illegal in Britain in order to stem the possibility of revolution at home However Lord Mora who was Master of the rand Lodge, and a friend of George III made a special appeal to the king, saying that as Freemasons were supportive of all the traditional British institutions, including the monarchy it was unthinkable that any freemason would rebel against the monarchy. On that assurance Freemasonry in Britain was allowed to continue as a secret society. If only there had been Freemasonry in America at the time of the revolution, all Mora would have had to do is remind his brothers of their fealty to the king and it would all have been over! 🙂

    • Michael Gowland

      There was a little more to it than that, if you look at our rules and constitutions we (United Grand Lodge of England regular masons) now operate under a concept and enforced system of regularity that has been specifically designed to ensure that lodges do not engage in political activity. We have also long since introduced the maintenance of membership records by Grand Lodge that ensures that we did not fall under the definition of a secret society used in the legislation. Thus, there was a lot more going on there than a simple verbal reassurance by Lord Mora, substantial reforms of Masonry took place. These were not mere cosmetic changes. There have been instances where masonic lodges have been infiltrated by politically motivated groups and have started to operate as politically active secret societies, but they have been identified and expelled (Propaganda Due, “P2” comes to mind as an example). The primary object of Visiting Officers from a Grand Lodge is to make sure such things are not taking place. Moreover, the masonry I am a member of is in no way a secret society; which is why many members, such as myself, are very open about our membership (though not about our rituals which we regard as sacred and hence as belonging in a special, private space).

      • Timpic

        But Michael, whatever is or is not happening today recall that my point on the subject is that during the American Revolution members of Grand Lodge in England lied about the fact that their ‘brothers’ in the colonies were in open rebellion to their anointed King, And indeed claimed that Masonry was completely supportive of the crown regardless of what has happened since. The Grand Master knowingly lied to his king which certainly indicates that fealty to Grand Lodge (at least at the end of the 18th century) trips fealty to the crown. I merely point this out to say that Ludendorff’s suspicions were not entirely off the wall.

    • Eli Goldsmith

      There was Freemasonry in America – The Colonies – during the American Revolution; there were Lodges in America. For example, Washington was sworn in as a member at age 21. Nine signers of the Constitution were Freemasons, as were 23 (??) who signed the Declaration of Independence. Samuel Adams, George Mason, Paul Revere, among many, many others were Freemasons. Moreover, Freemasons, especially of senior rank, were afforded privileges and a “special respect” when taken prisoner. This occurred with both the Continental troops and the English troops.