THE ANNIHILATION of FREEMASONRY
by: SVEN G. LUNDEN
The American Mercury
There is only one group of men whom the Nazis and the Fascists hate more than the Jews. They are the Freemasons.
In Italy, indeed, the anti-Jewish feeling is of recent vintage and largely artificial, whereas the Blackshirt hatred of Freemasonry is old and deep. In their own countries Hitler and
Mussolini Inaugurated their respective reigns with outrages against Masons and Masonic institutions,
and they have never relaxed the systematic persecution.
Now Nazi conquests of other European
nations — whether by invasion of forcible “persuasion” — are followed automatically by hostile measures against Freemasons. From Norway to the Balkans, the progress of the Swastika has brought outlawry, and often vandalism and death in its wake for all Masons. The anti-Semitic excesses have been widely reported, the anti-Catholic outrages have had considerable publicity, but the merciless totalitarian assaults on Freemasonry have not receive a tithe of the world-wide attention they richly merit. They are practically an unknown chapter.
Nazi and Fascist publications leave no doubt of their belief that all evil in the world, from the high
mortality rate among the dinner guests of the Borgias down to the Versailles Treaty, has been the
work of Freemasons, alone or with the help of Israel. In “Mien Kampf”, Hitler merges his twin phobias:
“The general pacifistic penalization of the national instinct of self-preservation,
introduced into the circles of the so-called `intelligentsia’ by Freemasonry, is transmitted
to the great masses, but above all to the bourgeoisie, by the activity of the great press,
which today is always Jewish.”
And one of the first official statements made by Hermann Goering in his capacity as Prime Minister of Prussia, when the Nazis took over power in 1933, was that “in National Socialist Germany there
is no place for Freemasonry.: That view was not news. It had run through all the Nazi propaganda and had been an intrinsic part of the Fascist attitude in Mussolini’s realm.
After the German debacle of 1918, the frustrated man who had been the virtual master of Germany’s destinies, General Erich Ludendorff, south an outlet for his bitterness in diatribes against
Freemasonry. Right up to his death, Ludendorff devoted himself wholly to propaganda intended to prove that the war, the ensuing German revolution, and most other world ills had been the doing of the Masons. He published a pamphlet entitled “Annihilation of Freemasonry Through the Revelation of Its Secrets” wherein the so-called secrets of Freemasonry were “revealed” for the hundredth time since the foundation of the Order in 1717, without, however, annihilating Masonry.
The senile general’s main thesis was that Freemasonry is a Jewish device intended to make “artificial Jews.” On
one page the hand that had led Germany to disaster in 1918 wrote: “It is cheating the people to fight
the Jew while allowing his auxiliary troop, Freemasonry … to function.”
The Nazis continued where Ludendorff left off. But others had preceded them in Mason-baiting. In
1917, as one of their acts, the Bolsheviks dissolved all lodges in Russia. In 1919, when Bela Kun
proclaimed the dictatorship of the proletariat in Hungary, one of his first decrees ordered the
dissolution of Masonic lodges. In 1925, Spain’s first dictator of this generation, General Primo de
Rivera, ordered the abolition of Freemasonry in his country.
Benito Mussolini went about the same business more methodically. Having established his regime, IL
Duce proceeded step by step to exterminate the lodges and the influence of Italian Freemasonry.
Even the Nazi apostle, Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, has admitted in his book “Masonic World Policies”
that the Freemasons had been the creators of the united democratic Kingdom of Italy. But this did
not win them any mitigation of horrors at the hands of ultra-patriotic Fascists. In 1924, Mussolini
decreed that every member of his Fascist Party who was a Mason must abandon one or the other
organization. Thereupon General Cappello, one of the most prominent Fascists, who had held the
post of Deputy Grand Master of Grande Oriente, Italy’s leading Grand Lodge, gave up membership
in Fascism rather than betray his Masonic ideals. He was to pay dearly for this loyalty. Less than a
year later, he was charged with complicity in an attempt on Mussolini’s life. It was a palpable
frame-up by an OVRA stoolpigeon named Quaglia, but General Cappello was sentenced to thirty
years in prison, where he probably still lingers.
In the summer of 1925 Mussolini got around to dissolving Italian Freemasonry. In an open letter to Il
Duce, the Grand Master of the Grande Oriente, Domizio Torrigiani, had the courage to stand up for
democracy and freedom of thought. The price he paid was exile to the Lipari Islands. After nearly
going blind there, he died soon afterwards. Hundreds of other prominent Masons shared the harsh
Lipari exile with him. At the peak of the anti-Mason agitation, in 1925-27, Blackshirt strong-arm
squads looted the homes of well-known Masons in Milan, Florence and other cities, and murdered
at least 100 of them.
The Nazis acted more swiftly. Immediately on Hitler’s rise to power, the ten Grand Lodges of
Germany were dissolved. Many among the prominent dignitaries and members of the Order were
sent to concentration camps. The Gestapo seized the membership lists of the Grand Lodges and
looted their libraries and collections of Masonic objects. Much of this loot was then exhibited in an
“Anti-Masonic Exposition” inaugurated in 1937 by Herr Dr. Joseph Goebbels in Munich. The
Exposition included completely furnished Masonic temples.
The persecution was carried over into Austria when the country was captured by the Nazis. The
Masters of the various Vienna lodges were immediately confined in the most notorious concentration
camps, including the horrible living hell at Dachau in Bavaria. The same procedure was repeated
when Hitler took over Czechoslovakia, then Poland. Immediately after conquering Holland and
Belgium, the Nazis ordered the dissolution of the lodges in those nations. It was also Point One on
the agenda of Major Quisling in Norway. It may be taken as part of the same ugly picture that
General Franco of Spain in 1940 sentenced all Freemasons in his realm automatically to ten years in
prison. When France fell last June, the Vichy government caused the two Masonic bodies of France,
the Grand Orient and the Grenade Loge to be dissolved, their property being seized and sold at
The countries which are still ostensibly independent, but actually under the heel of Germany, must
prove their conformity to the Nazi pattern by taking harsh measures against Masonry. In Hungary the
dissolution of the lodges was unnecessary because they were never allowed to resume after Bela
Kun was overthrown. Mason-baiting is one “principle” on which White Terrors and Red Terrors
have always agreed. Rumania recently prohibited Freemasonry to prove its subservience to
Germany. Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, inhabited by levelheaded and tolerant peasantry, were also
obliged to enact the twin sets of laws — anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic — that demonstrate
“friendship for Hitler”.
The summary does not begin to convey the full terror of the Calvary to which Freemasonry has been
subjected wherever the totalitarians took power. Murder, imprisonment, economic looting, social
outlawry have been the bitter lot of individual Masons. Rapine has been the fate of their
organizations, their treasures, their institutions of charity.
Why does this implacable and fanatic hatred of the Order obsess the totalitarian mind? The answer is
in the whole history and temper of Freemasonry. For more than two centuries its leaders have been
consistently on the side of political freedom and human dignity, reaping a harvest of persecution at
the hands of tyrants. Before going into that, however, we must distinguish clearly between two things:
Freemasonry and Freemasons. The chief trick of mason-haters through the generations, a trick
followed by the Nazis, is to direct their accusations not against Freemasons personally but against
the whole Masonic Order.
Freemasonry is made up of Masonic bodies: lodges, Grand Lodges and other groupings. All of these
scrupulously refrain from meddling in politics or any other subject not directly related to Masonic
matters or charity. The Constitution of the Order stipulates that every member must be a loyal citizen
of his country, and it professes adherence “to that religion in which all men agree” — that is, belief in a
Divine power, in morality and in charity. In contrast to narrow nationalism, it believes in serving
Humanity as a whole. That is all that the Masonic Order itself professes and is interested in. What
individual Masons do as citizens of their respective countries to serve the ideals they personally
believe is, is their own business.
This attitude is no subterfuge. On the contrary, the enlightened Freemason not only admits but prides
himself in the fact that modern democracy and human progress owe so much to the heroism and
idealism of individual Freemasons. Unless he is a very naive person he will also admit that the lodge
is a place where congenial people meet to gather that moral strength which they need to stand up for
the ideals of liberty and equality outside the lodge. At the same time, however, to true Masons the
lodge is hallowed ground, and inside its gates politics and the other concerns of the market-place are
Some of the less critically-minded Masons like to trace the origins of the Order back to ancient
Egypt. But in its present form, Freemasonry originated in England, probably in the Seventeenth
Century, while the first Grand Lodge was founded in London in 1717 and the regulations, by-laws
and constitutions of Masonry were laid down in what is known as Anderson’s Constitutions in
1722-23. The spiritual elements underlying these precepts were decidedly “advanced” for their time,
emphasizing as they did tolerance for other men’s religions and the brotherhood of all human beings.
The intellectual and spiritual foundations of modern democracy, including the American Revolution
and the American Constitution, are to be found in large part in the teachings of Jean Jacques
Rousseau and in the ideas cemented into the great first Encyclopedia. And it is a fact that most of the
authors of that epoch-making Encyclopedia — Diderot, D’Alembert, Condorcet, the famous Swiss
philosopher Helvetius, etc. — were Freemasons. The envoy to France from the rebellious American
colonies, Benjamin Franklin, also was an ardent Freemason. So are George Washington, John Hancock and a great many of the co-signers of the Declaration of
Independence. Both Washington and Franklin long held the post of Grand Master.
The most distinguished among the Masonic lodges of Paris in the Eighteenth Century was the “Lodge
of the Nine Sisters” — that is, the nine Muses — and its membership included the intellectual cream of
France. When Voltaire paid a visit to Paris in the year of his death, at the age of 79, he was initiated
into Freemasonry in this lodge. The climax of the ceremony came when Brother Benjamin Franklin
of Philadelphia handed to Voltaire the Masonic apron which the great Helvetius had worn before
him. Voltaire raised the apron to his aged lips.
Six years before that memorable day, something even more memorable happened in Boston. It has
come down in history as the Boston Tea Party. And it is no secret that the “Indians” who dumped
the cargo on December 16, 1773, had emerged from the building which housed the St. Andrews
Lodge, the leading Masonic body in Boston. Their job done, the “Indians” were seen to troop back
to the lodge building — and no Indians ever again emerged from the lodge. Instead, a lot of prominent
Bostonians, known to be Masons, did emerge. And in the book which used to contain the minutes of
the lodge and which still exists, there is an almost blank page where the minutes of that memorable
Thursday should be. Instead, the page bears but one letter — a large T. Can it have anything to do
with Tea? It is perhaps the only instance in the History of Freemasonry where a lodge, as a body, has
taken an active part in politics.
Practically everywhere, INDIVIDUAL Masons have thus been in the forefront in movements of
liberation. Goethe, who considered himself a European more than a German and so often criticized
his fellow-Germans, was a fervent Freemason, as was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart’s opera
“The Magic Flute” is full of allusions and symbolism relating to Freemasonry. In fact, its theme is the
search for truth and the victory of tolerance over the fanaticism that springs from ignorance, a theme
which Mozart shared with his brother Masons. But few Masons today, listening to the delightful
tunes of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”, realize that they are enjoying a “revolutionary” play, set
to music by a Mason who believed in the “revolutionary” principle of the equality of all men.
Beaumarchais’ Figaro comedy was written and staged under Louis XV of France as an attack
against the prevalent feudal social system. Mozart’s choice of this play, at a time when the success of
the young American democracy was firing the imagination of the world, was not accidental.
Hebert, Andre Chenier, Camille Desmoulins and many other “Girondins” of the French Revolution
were Freemasons. The Masonic ideal of freedom was strong in the heart of a Frenchman who
became a Mason while in the youthful United States of America — the Marquis de Lafayette. He
remained an enthusiastic Mason all his life, and was until his death in 1829 Grand Master of the
Grand Orient de France.
And during the whole of the Nineteenth Century, to be a Freemason was tantamount to being a
champion of democracy. Many of the leaders in the great year 1848, which saw so many uprising
against feudal rule in Europe, were members of the Order; among them was the great Hungarian
hero of democracy, Louis Kossuth, who found temporary refuge in America. Like Kossuth, another
celebrated champion of democracy, Guiseppe Garibaldi, was a thirty-third degree Freemason and
Grand Master of the Italian Freemasons. Most leaders of the Young Turkish Committee, which in
1908 forced Sultan Abdul Hamid “the Damned” to give his nation a parliamentary form of
government, and who deposed the “Red Sultan” in the following year, were likewise Masons. In
Latin America, too, the process of liberation from the Spanish yoke was the work of Freemasons, in
large measure. Simon Bolivar was one of the most active of Masonry’s sons, and so were San
martin, Mitre, Alvear, Sarmiento, Benito Juarez — all hallowed names to Latin Americans.
Thus, while the Order as such kept out of politics, it attracted to itself the most democratically
minded, the champions of human decencies — and won for itself the undying hatred of those who
feared progress. Yet Masonry has never been a subversive movement. In countries where
democracy is a reality, even Royalty belongs to the Order. Both King George VI and the Duke of
Kent are Freemasons; so is the Duke of Windsor. His grandfather, Edward VII, was the chief of
British Masonry, and he was succeeded in the post by the aged Duke of Connaught. King Gustav V
heads the Freemasons of Sweden.
It is clear, consequently, why the Nazis and Fascist and Bolsheviks must hate an organization so
steeped in humanitarian traditions. They know that Masons, as individuals, have founded a great
number of modern democratic states, have drafted the Declaration of Independence and created
liberal Constitutions the world over. But the totalitarian hatred for the Order is not merely emotional.
It is clearly defined in the fundamental divergence between their creed and the Masonic ideal. In his
book to which we have already referred, the Nazi Dr. Rosenberg writes:
“Without doubt the Masonic dogma of Humanity is a relapse into worlds of the most
primitive conceptions; everywhere where it is put into practice it is accompanied by
decadence, because it conflicts with the aristocratic laws of Nature”.
Thus in his own dogmatic terms he indicts Freemasonry for what is its greatest pride, its ideal of
In 1938 Hitler’s own publishing house, which puts out both “Main Kampf” and the official
“Volkischer Beobachter”, issued a volume on “Freemasonry, Its World View (Weltanschauung),
Organization and Policies”. The preface is written by Herr Heydrich, second in command of the
Gestapo, and hence an expert on oppression and violence, and hints openly at the seizure of libraries
and property of German Freemasonry. The book itself, by one Dieter Schwarz, discloses that every
new Nazi member must “confirm by his word of honor that he does not belong to a Masonic lodge.”
In outlining the official Nazi on the subject, it says in part:
“Nordic is the Nazi conception of the world, Jewish-Oriental that of the Freemasons;
in contrast to the anti-racial attitude of the lodges, the Nazi attitude is race conscious….”
“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.”
I have read several hundred books about Freemasonry and scores of original Masonic documents.
But never have I seen masonry’s basic ideals expressed more clearly than by its mortal enemies in
the passage above. Herr Heydrich and Herr Schwarz are right — the gulf between their
“Weltanschauung” and the Masonic Ideals can never be bridged.