Translator's Prologue: This rather exhaustive expose appeared in GEO in 1988. After reading the article, it made such an impact that I decided to translate it so it could be shared with the English-speaking Brethren. The decision to translate the article in the first place was a difficult one in that it came perilously close to revealing more of the Order than I vowed I would ever reveal. However, since the article appeared with the consent of the Grand Lodges of Germany, the Grand Master of the American-Canadian Grand Lodge assured me that I was free to translate it without pangs of conscience. The translation was widely circulated among Freemasons on both sides of the Atlantic. Afterwards, I filed the article away in my personal archives for future reference. My personal pathway since 1988 has made many winding turns, but ever progressing from the West to the East. After recently reviewing this the article, I concluded that it would be of interest outside of Masonic circles. There are many myths and misconceptions both inside and outside of the Fraternity. This article provides some insights about the Order, and about other traditions that enigmatically seem opposed to each other. Beyond that, I am not free to comment. I will leave it to the reader to gain such light as may be found. DLO 1993.

Freemasonry in Germany


This evening, everything is different (from all the times before). The heart of the Seeker races with anticipation. The Unknown awaits him. Only two or three blocks further---then he will stand in front of the Lodge Hall. There, in a few hours, he is to be initiated into Freemasonry as an Entered Apprentice. For almost a year, he has traveled this road, as a "Profane" guest of the Lodge. Relentlessly, the Brothers lectured him in question and answer dialogue. Finally, they accepted him as a Seeker, as one who was mature enough, to enter the Fraternity (whose purpose) is the search for Light---the search for Enlightenment, Self-knowledge, and his own Perfection. In open Lodge, one of the Brothers, his Sponsor, had vouched for him---that he was in possession of all of the necessary qualifications required of all Initiates over the past 265 years, in accordance with the Ancient Constitutions. The Seeker has the good recommendation of this Sponsor to thank for the fact that during the secret ballot convened inside the Temple, only white balls were cast, and no Brother had voted with a black one against the him.

Nevertheless, his heart still pounds. What will happen to him on this night, before he becomes an Equal among Equals? In the Lodge Hall, his Sponsor is ready to prepare him. In a small room on the first floor, he will be asked to write down his answers to these questions: What is the destiny of man? What can the Fraternity of Freemasonry expect from him? What does he expect from the Fraternity? Then, his sponsor departs, and leaves him alone. Below, in the Foyer, the Lodge Brothers assemble, as they have time and time again, and sign the Register. Tonight, each is dressed in a black suit, white gloves, and a top hat--a cylinder --as a symbol of freedom and equality. They also wear the blue and white apron, as their ancient brethren had done. The emblems distinguish the Degree, whether (one is) Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, or Master. Soon the Master of Ceremonies enters, raps three times on the floor with his staff, and orders the Brethren to present themselves in the Lodge. In silence, arm-in-arm and two-by-two, they follow him up the stairs that ascend into the Temple. Inside, the Officers have already taken their respective Chairs. As the elected leader of the Lodge, the Worshipful Master sits behind his station in the East--for as the Sun rises in the East, so should the wisdom of the Worshipful Master enlighten the Lodge from the East, and guide the Brethren in their work. Placed before him on the Altar are the "Three Great Lights" of Freemasonry. The "Book of the Holy Laws", the Bible, reveals the Plan of the Grand Master Builder of the Universe, and admonishes (Brothers) to tolerance; the Square is emblematical of honesty and brotherhood; the compasses represent the relationship of man to man, and prescribes brotherly love. To the left and right of the Worshipful Master sit the Secretary and the Lecturer ; directly across from him in the West sit the First and Second Overseer. The Brethren now enter, and seat themselves at the direction of the two Conductors , in "Columns", in the North and South; meanwhile, the Master of Ceremonies takes his position in the extreme West as guard of the Temple door. With a rap of the gavel, the Master calls the Brethren up. Together, the Master and the Overseers converge between the Columns (of Brethren) to the middle of the Temple. There they illuminate the Work Station, so that the labor of the "Grand Edifice" may, in clearest light, be begun. The Master lights the candle on the "Pillar of Wisdom" and declares, "Wisdom designs the Edifice." The Overseers light their candles with the words, "Strength builds it" and "Beauty completes it." Then the Work Carpet at the base of the three Pillars is uncovered, and the Master proclaims, "The Lodge is now open."

For 250 years Freemasons have practiced their Temple work in Germany. Indeed, long before (this time), like-minded men have employed the Masonic philosophy: in the "Bauhütten" of the Middle Ages. The Stone Masons could not be compelled to labor for any municipality; they were allowed unconstrained travel through many countries, and, by the personal decree of the (Holy Roman) Emperor, were subject only to the rules and regulations created by the guild. The Stone Masons enjoyed freedoms far above those granted to other workers of the time, and they carefully guarded these special privileges. The (guilds) would only accept as new members those who would steadfastly adhere to their regulations, at all times stand for justice and order, and who would dedicate themselves to the furtherance of art, humanitarian principles, and the fear of God. Their motto: "To the honor of God and the welfare of Mankind." The arts of cutting and fitting stones (for the Builder's use), however, remained secrets of their craft, and were orally communicated from generation to generation; this was probably necessitated by the lack of literacy (among the population at large at that time). At the beginning of the 18th Century, the Builders' Guilds fell on difficult times. Demand for new churches was rare. In order to keep their Halls operating through the recession, a number of non-masons were accepted into the guilds to make up for the shortages of money. This was the eve of the Age of Enlightenment, and most intellectuals (of the time) sought out the few places where one could express his own opinions without losing his head. Whatever was debated during the meetings remained sealed inside the Lodge, and never reached outsiders under any circumstances. The signs, words, and grips that had already been established to protect (guild members) during their travels, were carried over (to this period) and were used to protect the guild (now called Lodge) meetings from spies. Physical structures were no longer erected (by the Lodges). The transition to mental labor--from the "operative" to the speculative (aspects) of Masonry--was marked by the establishment of the first Grand Lodge of Freemasons in London in 1717. Twenty years later, "Absolom of the Three Nettles" was established in Hamburg, as the first German affiliate of this rapidly spreading world Brotherhood. All Freemasons work together for a common goal: to erect a "Temple of Humanity" by taking the physical principles of architecture and applying them metaphysically, using men as stones, tolerance and brotherhood as mortar, the Bible as the design, and God as the "Grand Master Builder of the Universe."

The Seeker will work together with the Brethren on this spiritual building constructed on the Earth. In the small room, he wrote his Answers as he was coached to do by his Sponsor. Another Brother came in, took the paper, and in a low voice said to him, "I will take your written answers to the Brethren, and receive their report. Follow me, and I will prepare you for your Initiation." Together they go a little further down the Hall to the "Darkened Chamber", where the Seeker is seated, and is again left alone. In the flickering light of a single candle, with a Bible, hour glass, and skull on the table in front of him, he is to reflect on himself, and the transitory nature of things. The time passes--enough time that while in waiting for the actual Initiation ceremony to begin, the Seeker's heart jumps into his throat. In the gloom of this place, the old myths flood his consciousness, the (terrifying) folk tales that the Seeker assumed he had long since overcome and forgotten: That Freemasons sleep in coffins, and celebrate their worship (of evil) with skulls; That every year, lots are cast, and a Lodge Brother is chosen as a sacrifice to Death, and the only way he may escape his fate is through the sacrifice of a child; That the first failing (of a Brother's business) brings support from all the Brothers, but the second bankruptcy demands suicide; that the Freemasons poisoned Mozart, their Lodge Brother, because in his composition "Magic Flute" he publicly revealed the secrets of the Ritual. In the Darkened Chamber, he remembers the vows that he was previously required to make, and that the breaking of those vows carried no less a penalty "than that my throat be cut across, my tongue taken from the palate of my mouth, my heart ripped out of my left breast, and buried in the sands of the sea, a cable tow's length from shore, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, my body burned to ashes, and the ashes strewn over the face of the Earth, so that not the slightest remembrance of me in Masonry remains." The door opens, and a Brother approaches. "Sir, after earnest self-examination, do you, of your own free will, still desire to become a Freemason?" The Seeker answered "Yes." "Do you realize the magnitude of your decision, and its meaning and importance to your life in the future?" "Yes." "Are you prepared to take upon yourself, the duties and obligations of a Lodge member, obey the Constitutions and by-laws of our Lodge over which you have given written examination?" "Yes." "Your wish will come to pass." The Seeker then must take off his (black bow) tie, open his shirt at the neck, roll the left leg of his trousers up above the knee, put a slipper on his (left) foot, and place all metal objects into a small box. This is to teach him that his good reputation among men is more valuable than all of his worldly possessions. He is then blindfolded, and an arm of a Brother leads him a few steps further. "You (now) stand before the door of our Temple. Obtain your admission through three distinct knocks."

Entrance into the circle of Freemasonry is not possible for every one. In 1723, the "Ancient Constitutions" were adopted in England, and became the legal basis for all of Freemasonry. Accordingly, Lodges must admit "as Members in a Lodge only good and upright men, free-born, of mature and lawful age; no bond men (serfs), no women, no one of immoral and ill character; rather, (Lodges may initiate) only such men as are of good repute." In the 18th Century, the progressive spirits of the time congregated in the Lodges: Lessing, Goethe, Herder, Fichte---the name of almost every prominent figure in the Age of Enlightenment is found on the membership rolls (of Masonic Lodges). Apparently the Lodge Halls were the only places where opposing views could be expressed in safety, outside the reach of the absolute State- and Church powers. In the Lodge meetings, (the members) enjoyed something comparable to diplomatic immunity. Outside ranks, positions, and privileges were levelled inside the Lodge. Absolute freedom of thought and opinion was mandated in a part of the Constitution of the Lodge. Only under these conditions could the concepts of the Age of Enlightenment have been formulated. Masons today savor the fact that the Fraternity was once the Avantgarde of liberal thought. The names of the towering figures of our times rarely appear on membership registers of the Lodge. Generally speaking, the membership (in Germany) has stagnated in the last decade, and now numbers somewhere around 20,000. The average age of the Lodge member is 51 years. In spite (of the declining membership), the rules of the 397 existing German Lodges have not been loosened. An applicant must endure about a year of probation, during which time his trustworthiness and strength of character is closely examined, and, (if flawed), may cause his exclusion (from consideration for membership). The applicant must be recommended by at least one Freemason in good standing, who will sponsor him into the Lodge, and all of the Brothers must unanimously accept him. Men from the upper class (seem to) give themselves to this elitist selection process, and, correspondingly, form the greatest contingent (of the membership). The assertion that many (members) participate in Lodges only to open doors for their business ventures, is strictly rejected by the Freemasons, and is regarded as only (unenlightened) prejudice. "Business Masonry", it is called, indeed properly belongs to the purposes of other men's clubs, such as the Rotarians or Lions, but it has no place at Masonic convenings. The fact that the Masons recruit primarily well established contemporaries they justify (as serving) a pedagogical purpose: if a man has a wife, money, and children, he should be mature enough to dedicate himself to the profound matters of human existence. Such are the Masonic ideals. These ideals have, since the Enlightenment, remained substantially unchanged: freedom, equality, and brotherhood; the tenets of truth, beauty, and morality. Professional status, which is a prerequisite of admission, affords the members the time and luxury to come together in the shimmering light of their Temples, and "work" toward a new and beautiful world. He who desires to exemplify an upright life must provide for the harmony of his own soul. To this end, Masons meet to practice "Temple Work" , which is regular instruction on moral development, and the "Ritual", the book from which all of their lessons are taught. That they will allow no "Profanes" to participate in their activities has led to much speculation concerning the "secret" activities inside the Masonic Temples. It has inspired folk tales (that still persist) about murder and executions, Satanic worship, and the sacrifice of virgins. The iron silence concerning their customs gave the Fraternity the reputation of a renegade band, who in their Lodges conspired against the masses and the country. Hitler, who could not tolerate the independence of the Freemasons in his totalitarian concept, used this wide-spread prejudice (against the Masons) to persecute the Fraternity. The Lodges were outlawed, their money and property seized, and in many places, their magnificent old Lodge Halls were demolished. In the Hamburg Temple, the Nazi buffoons ripped the carpet from the wall, tore the floor tiles out, and dismantled the walls stone by stone, zealously attempting to finally reveal the insurrection and the revolutionary character of "the Secrecy." All of their impassioned rage was in vain. They found absolutely nothing. Indeed, Freemasons and their Temple ceremonies have, since their inception, had a religious aura, and have been regarded as some sort of "secret" religion. Masons do not appreciate this comparison, because they do not want the cultivation of their ideals to be perceived as a "religion." Nevertheless, their Ritual resembles a liturgy, the dialogue between the Worshipful Master and the Overseers is similar to a sermon, and the processional is like a sacramental march. But in contrast to the Catholic Church's claim (regarding Dogma), the Dogma of Freemasonry is: in their ranks, no Dogma may be promulgated. Tolerance is their prime directive, and belief (in Deity) is a presumption (precondition) of membership. What truths (regarding Deity) that the individual Brother perceives from Divine inspiration is not to be dictated (by the Lodge). Freemasons refer to Deity as the "Grand Master Builder of the Universe." A contradiction is that the aspiration towards free self-enlightenment is conveyed through the rigid presentation of the Ritual. Never, not once in the slightest detail, is the conduct of the Ritual ever altered. On the surface it appears that only the Master and his Overseers take an active part in this Mystery Play. In reality, they are no more than orators of the Ritual. The constant repetition of the Masonic message leads to the ideals (embodied in the concept) of "inner light", and the Symbols enkindle meditation on the purposes of the Fraternity. The "secrets" of Freemasonry, claim the Brothers, cannot be "discovered"; they may only be experienced. The hierarchical structure (of the Fraternity) seems to be a paradox in that it resembles the actual training process of a trade or craft, with (grades of) Apprentice, Journeyman , and Master. Without having to give an account of the progress of his "mental development", each candidate is regularly elevated to the next degree . Each of the three so-called "Degrees" work in their own Rituals, and Brothers of lower degrees are excluded from work in Ritual of a higher degree. "The Entered Apprentice sees within himself; the Fellowcraft, about himself; and the Master, above himself" is a Masonic proverb that suggests man can transcend to heavenly spheres through the development of his (own) inner character.

Three times the Seeker now knocks upon the Temple door. "Brother Watchman, who knocks so differently?" asks the Master from within. Then, by a question and answer Ritual, it is determined who is at the door, and what he desires. Only after (satisfactory answers have been given), the Master declares, "His entrance is permitted." Figuratively naked and helpless, as he was when he was born, the Seeker stands between the Overseers. With the blindfold over his eyes, he perceives mentally how blind he is--- one who is uninstructed in the Search for Light, the Light that guides man along the Upright Path through life. "To higher perfection is the destiny of man, but long is the way that leads him there," admonishes the Worshipful Master. Then he orders the Overseers to take the Seeker on three journeys: from Evening through the Night to Sunrise, over Mid-day and back again to Evening. He is led through the four elements---Fire, Water, Earth, and Air---in the four corners of the Temple. And the Seeker constantly feels the helping arms of the Brothers at his side, who do not leave him (alone) for an instant. With consoling words, they warn him of the dangers of life that will tempt him to stray from the Upright Path: passion, prejudice, evil, vanity, and egotism. "Know Thyself!" someone admonishes him in a stern voice many times during his "journeys." Finally, he again reaches the place from which his journeys had begun. The Master explains, "The goal of Masonry is the inner transformation, and the spiritual development of mankind. Even though you have travelled a path of instruction, it is impossible for you reach this goal so long as you are hindered by the Blindfold of Ignorance that prevents you from knowing the Truth." At the command of the Master, the Seeker kneels before the Altar; Compasses are placed in his left hand, and he holds the points against his naked (left) breast, where the heart beats, and vows to dedicate himself totally to humanity; to conscientiously fulfill his duties to his family, community, country, and the Brotherhood of Man; to keep his silence regarding the customs and ceremonies of Masonry, and not to discuss those things with anyone, unless he knows him to be a fellow Mason. Carefully and ceremoniously, the Master's gavel thrice strikes the Compasses resting against the Seeker's breast. "The bond is sealed for your entire life. Give this free and searching Mason the Light." The blindfold is sharply removed from his eyes, and the candles and lights of the Temple blind him for a few seconds. (When his eyes adjust), he discovers that all the Brothers have encircled him, and that he himself is a link in their chain, and that he has been accepted as a "Brother." The Master declares, "Our hearts beat with yours, and the grip of our hand assures you that we will stand true to you so long as Truth, Justice, and Brotherly Love are held sacred (in your heart)."

Until late in the Wilhelmian Era (circa 1917), it was fashionable to be a Mason; but little from the old romance remains. Whoever wants to make the transition from "Middle Class" to "High Society" will join the Rotarians or the Lions Club. Many Masons have joined these other clubs as well. Freemasonry, to be sure, is more concerned with the transcendental than it is with the business world. The search for value and meaning apart from the material world has, once again, become a trend of the times. Masonry encourages this quest by offering a mixture of esoteric and collective self-experience. Were it not for the seemingly inquisitional nature of the examination before the Acceptance Committee, the Fraternity would have large numbers of people seeking admission.

If one asks the Brothers why they became Freemasons, they would give many different answers. Some lament the social clubs who utterly disregard man's duty to man---most (of the Brothers), however, have climbed to the top of their own careers in similar social settings and circumstances. Others are at the peak of their careers, and suddenly feel compelled to inquire into the deeper meaning of life. Many have few friends because they work twelve hour days (and do not have the time for regular socializing), so they seek the "Brotherly" fellowship (of the Lodge to fill this void). The most, however, truly seek moral development through ritualistic meditation and the exchange of collective experiences. The Lodge Hall is a warm nest for them all. The Profane remains outside and excluded at all times; and no women are allowed as members. "Man" fears that it would disrupt the harmony of "Brotherhood" if erotic and sexual (objects) were brought in. One Ludwig-Peter Freiherr von Pšlnitz wrote in a protocol: "Let us men (have our own place where we can be ourselves); we have been forced since earliest youth to (dwell upon) cognitive (things to the point of) hypertrophy of the brain; we have been stunted, even depraved, in matters of emotion, and we can find our (true) selves again only if we return to those things. We are searching for something that the Woman indeed has never lost: communion with the Origins of all Life (the soul of humanity)." Masons themselves cannot confirm if or how they have, themselves, been transformed by the "Regular Work". If one inquires, they give a lecture on the Utopia (to be achieved) from freedom, equality, and brotherhood. These lofty ideals have become stereotyped in contemporary Freemasonry. In reflecting upon the "Great Edifices" erected by the Operative Masons in the past, the Freemasons today are seeking their "Light." "The education of the Family of Man," (was a goal) dreamed of long ago by Brother Gotthold Ephriam Lessing, and is considered by the Brothers (today) to be their primary business.

The Freemasons are no longer engaged in actively attempting to "reform" society-at-large. They live their ideals solely within the circle of brothers, and, in all cases, within their homes. Every year the German Lodges do, in fact, spend millions of Mark on charitable causes. But when, for example, a prominent Mason like the former Hessen Minister President Holger Bšrner threatens a political opponent with a crow bar, a "Profane" must ask himself, if the ethics of Masonic "inner Light" is always able to stand the test in the every-day (world). In reality, the matters of day-to-day life hardly play a role in the Temple Work. At every meeting, a symbol is presented, and a lecture is delivered. Topics range from shipyard crisis to the unemployed, from a Papal visit to asylum seekers. To prevent any discord (from entering the Lodge) however, sectarian doctrines of religion and party politics are strictly forbidden. Considerably more time and effort is spent discussing symbolism and Ritual from the so-called "Trestle Board." Therein lies the "secret" knowledge and the deeper meaning of all of these things (symbols) that permits the Brothers to collectively know and recognize one another. Because they consider themselves to be Builders "of Eternal Worth", Masonic scholars claim the Fraternity's traditions pre-date the Stone Mason Guilds of the Middle Ages. They regard ancient mythology as the historical basis for Freemasonry. They (claim to) trace the origins of the Ritual back to the Elysian Mysteries of ancient Greece, or the Isis Legend of Egypt; parallels have even been drawn from old Chinese myths. The fascination with legends and myths is further reflected in Masonic hierarchy. If one is elevated to Master in the St. John Degrees--so named after the Patron Saint of Masonry, and whose holiday is celebrated each June 24th--, he can further advance into the Higher Council of the "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rites", similar to the way one progresses through high school to college. In the Scottish Rites, there are 33 Degrees, but only four are "worked" . The membership, consisting of especially ardent Master Masons, supposedly explore the deeper meanings of Masonic teachings from a philosophical plane. Accordingly, they create an elite within an elite. A Mason of the 33rd Scottish Degree is called "Beneficent Knight of the Holy City." Where else can a man, who is the model of uprightness, dream to be in the Realm of King Arthur's Round Table? On the other hand, this is what makes Freemasonry relatively modern. Freemasonry offers a home for those who feel uprooted in a (depraved) world (that exists) without the "mysteries" of life; it combines reflection with consciousness. What lessons the Brothers learn from their "labor" no "Profane" can ever experience--that remains the only "secret" that the Freemasons have. After the Seeker dons his coat and tie at the Temple door, he is again led to the Altar, there to receive the secret recognition signs of Entered Apprentice. The Worshipful Master instructs him in the "Word." "The Word is the name of a pillar in front of the courtyard of King Solomon's Temple. The "Grip": three presses with the thumb on the first knuckle of the first finger of the other. The "Password", a reference to the First Master, "that enabled him to separate the ore from the Stone." The Apron, the Emblem of the Fraternity, which is older than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle. The Bijou, the symbol of this Lodge. The White Gloves: for as white as these, "so pure should your thoughts and actions ever be." White Gloves also "for the (lady) Companion of your life." Even though the Fraternity admits no women, it honors and respects them nevertheless. The Initiate kneels down by a rough stone, takes a gavel, and strikes the stone three times as an Apprentice---signifying that he has begun the labor of self-improvement, as a rough stone must be prepared before is it suitable for use in a great building. Afterwards, the Master of Ceremonies lead him to a seat in the North Column where he may sit next to his Sponsor. As they did in the opening, the Master and the Overseers go to the center of the Temple to close the Labor for the evening. The Work Carpet is covered, and the candles on the pillars are extinguished, one after the other. "Around us remains the reflection of Beauty"; "In us burns the fire of Strength"; "Over us shines the Light of Wisdom." Finally, all the Brothers form a circle of unity, and the Master speaks, " Return now to the World, my Brothers, and be tried as Freemasons. Resist injustice, wherever it appears; never turn your back on misery and distress; be watchful of yourselves. It is done, depart in peace." And the Brothers depart the Temple as they had entered: silently, arm-in-arm and two-by-two. In the front, the Master of Ceremonies; immediately behind him is the new Brother, shoulder to shoulder with his Sponsor. Festive music from a band accompanies them all, and the Apprentice remembers the words of the Worshipful Master "You were born in darkness, but the search for Light has led you here---keep sacred the recollection of this moment." Outside in the Foyer, wine and a magnificent buffet awaits the laborers.

INSET, Pg 22 "TO THE HONOR OF GOD THE WELFARE OF MANKIND" In the Early Middle Ages, Monks, especially members of the Benedictine Order, and later lay Brothers, formed guilds in the so-called "Bauhütten" of the monasteries, convents, and cathedrals (throughout Europe.) Within this Brotherhood, the "secrets" of the arts of (Sacred) architectural design and construction were developed, tested, and kept (from the outside world). In an account from the construction of the Abbey Vale Royal in England in 1278, the Bauhütte was first referred to as a "Lodge." This was also the first time that the Bauhütte was intended to be a permanent structure (see footnote 5). A large Construction Hall was erected, and provided the stone masons (not only with living and dining quarters, but also with) recreational and meeting areas, and work shops and offices. Later, the concept of a sovereign organization for free Stone Masons was developed and established, and they provided their own Lodge jurisdiction, construction regulations, and welfare. They also turned their talents to secular construction, but still primarily were concerned with religious architectural projects. Well known (Operative) Lodges worked in Stra§burg, Bern, Cologne, and Vienna. Their architectural skills were responsible for the privileges and freedoms that they enjoyed, and they jealously protected their knowledge from outsiders through secret recognition signs. In 1376 in London, a certificate emerged with reference to (a) "Ffreemason ." Later, it was translated as "Freemason." In the 16th Century, the Lodges became more secular, and took on the character of a true guild or union. This was the first time that "Laymasters" (non-stone masons) were admitted as "Accepted Masons." As the era of the great cathedral building drew to an end, most traditional (operative) Lodges disbanded. Lodges remained active only in England and Scotland; in fact, they grew in numbers of (mostly intellectual) "Accepted Masons". And instead of laying stone on stones, now symbolic and philosophical "work" was undertaken to erect the "Temple of Humanity." Foundations for the rapidly developing Masonic Rituals were found in the many surviving Books of Constitutions for the Stone Masons Guilds, and, indeed, from them the traditions were established. Most contained written opening and closing prayers (to be used in) "Regular" meetings of the Lodge, a mythological history of masonry, and regulations for moral and acceptable conduct for the Guild members to abide by at all times. The ideals of Freemasonry, first written in 1723 by the Scottish minster James Anderson, and called "The Ancient Constitutions", found wide acceptance in Europe and America during the Age of Enlightenment. They (these ideals) spread (like wild fire), and had a great impact on the establishment of the United States. At least 50 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, as were 50 of the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention, and all 13 Governors of the original 13 States. There are four million Freemasons in the United States today, and six million world-wide. There are none in the East Block, because the organization is prohibited. Shortly before the outlawing of Freemasonry by the Nazis in 1935, there were some 80,000 Freemasons in Germany; at the war's end, there were only about 6,000 (remaining). Today, there are about 15,000 West German Masons, and 5,000 Allied soldiers in 397 Lodges. The long-fractionalized Masonic organizations united in 1958 to form the "United Grand Lodges of Germany" The five Grand Lodge members are: the "Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Germany"; the "Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Germany--Freemasons Order"; the "Grand National Mother Lodge of the Three World Globes"; the "American-Canadian Grand Lodge"; and the "Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany". While the individual Lodges are sovereign in their internal matters, they owe their charter to one of the five Grand Lodges. The majority of the Lodges are registered (with the German Government as non-profit organizations), and their Statutes are public; their inner workings are governed by the "Ancient Constitutions" of 1723 and various "House Rules." Over the centuries, the Catholic Church has threatened its members with excommunication to prevent them from joining the Freemasons. This long-standing prohibition was not overturned until the Ecumenical Council of Codex in 1983. Germany, however, the Position Statement issued by the Bishops Conference in 1980 asserted that simultaneous membership in the Catholic Church and the Freemasons was incompatible. Nevertheless, there are a large number of Catholic Freemasons in Germany.

{illustration} In a French creation from the 13th Century, God is depicted as a Stone Mason, with compasses in hand.


The Noble Brotherhood Regularly clothed, and adorned with their jewels, the Freemasons practice their ritualistic work of meditation and self-understanding. From antiquity until the present they have been surrounded by an air of suspicion. Since they have long-since succeeded in their individual careers, they can afford the luxury to come together and dream of a better world. For GEO they have opened their Temple doors {pg 4, Contents}

Freemasonry in Germany The times have certainly changed since 1737, when the first German Masonic Lodge was established in Hamburg--but the Ideals and rituals (have not changed). In the "Darkened Chamber" , a "Seeker" waits his time <"with patience"> until he is admitted as an Entered Apprentice. With candles, an hour glass, and a skull placed before him, he meditates over the transience of things. Lectures from the Bible remind him of the obligation to which he has dedicated himself: to walk uprightly before all mankind. Irrespective of career pressures, because most have long established themselves in their chosen professions, the Brothers, in the sanctuary of their Lodge, lay designs for a better world. {pg 12}

In Darkness Begins the Search for Self With darkened eyes, partially bare, without money or jewelry, the Seeker stands between the Overseers in the Temple of the Lodge "To the Circle of World Brothers in the West" in Recklinghausen. In this condition, his ignorance is clear to him, and his attention is called to the precept that an honorable character is more ennobling than riches. Finally, the blindfold falls away, and the Candidate is received into the "Circle of Brotherhood" that has formed around the "Carpet of Labor" into which the symbols have been woven. {top inset photo} Clothed as a Mason, (he) lets his first gavel fall on the "Rough Stone." The work on his self improvement has begun. {middle inset} To celebrate the evening, the Entered Apprentice is seated near the Worshipful Master, who stands guard over discipline and the Altar. {bottom inset} {pg 13}

After the work, the Master Consents to Fellowship Even at the "Table Lodge" at the end of every Temple meeting there is a little work (to be done). The Ritual dictates the seating arrangements, the table decorations, and so forth; even how the glass must be raised to the mouth. Only when the command is issued from the head of the table by Günter Dzuik, Worshipful Master of RecklinghŠuser Lodge, may the health and future success of the initiate be toasted. Only after wine has brought about an air of conviviality will any loosening of protocol be tolerated. {pg 14}

The Officers Set the Atmosphere of the Temple The "Council of Officers" oversee the conduct of the Ritual. The Master of Ceremonies calls to labor, the Overseer lights a ceremonial candle, the Worshipful Master governs--like Erhard Gührs, of Hamburg Lodge "Ferdinand the Rock". And Grand Master Ernst Walther, of Wuppertal, represents all of the 20,000 Masons in the country. {pg 15}

Exemplary Instances of Masonic Brotherhood On the 24th of June, the Day of Saint John, Freemasons celebrate their Patron Saint. The Brethren of the "Five United Lodges of Hamburg" have come together to honor him. The Pillars of "Strength", "Beauty", and "Wisdom", as well as the Brother themselves, are decorated with roses. This day begins the new Masonic Year. {top, pg 18} {bottom photos, pg 18} Herbert Koeller, 72, a retired aircraft engineer, designs and creates collages with Masonic symbols. (He is a) Lodge Brother since 1948.

Here Every Man May Hold His Own Belief "METANOEI! Change Yourself!" admonishes an inscription above the entrance of the Old Lodge Hall in Hamburg. The Building is over 100 years old. Underneath stands District Grand Master Heinz Dolberg, wearing his official regalia, holding the Bible, the "Book of the Grand Master Builder of the Universe." A few of the 397 German Lodges will admit only Christians; most do not question a man's (specific) religious belief. An appreciation for the final metaphysical authority (a Supreme Being) is required. His "Masonic Clothing",(Apron, Jewel, and white gloves) brings each (Mason) together (as one with his Brothers).{pg 20}

{pg 23} The badge of emblem of a (particular) Lodge is known as a "Bijoux" . The Bijoux is often steeped in tradition, and is revered by each Brother of the Lodge. In the Bayreuth Museum of German Freemasonry, (all of) the Bijouxs of German Lodges, (past and present), are on display. Many are from Lodges that closed (voluntarily) and from Lodges that were forced to close by persecutions, notably during the Nazi regime.

Right to the "Regular" Work Belongs Only to the Brothers In the Hamburg Group "Lessing at the Door of the World", Sisters (also) practice Masonic work. However, not all Brothers accept (or tolerate) "Adoptive Lodges." They refer to the work practiced (by the "Adoptives") as counterfeit , and do not regard it as "Regular." "Regular" Temple work belongs exclusively to the Brothers; this is to prevent the harmony of the Lodge from being disrupted. {pg 24}

Controversial Handwork Many (Brothers) display their Lodge affiliation openly with Square and Compasses on the ring finger. For Lodges of Strict Observance, however, that is a violation of the principles of Modesty and Silence. {pg 26}

Brothers Honor a Brother Three roses, their highest tribute, are placed as a memorial on the grave of Freemason Friedrich Ludwig Schršders. The Hamburg actor completed the Text and Order of Proceedings of the Ritual (1809 a.d.). This Ritual, in its original form, is the most widely practiced in the German Lodges. {pg 28}



Jens Rehländer, 25, is an editor with GEO. He considers it an honor that the Freemasons took him into their special confidence. Nevertheless, he keeps himself at a cautious distance, and reserves his critical opinion. Henning Christoph, 43, surprisingly received much encouragement as he posed each photograph in this article. This is the second story (after "Casinos", GEO No.9), that the two have co-authored.


GEO Verlag Gruner + Jahr AG & Co Wahrburgstra§e 50, 2000 Hamburg 36 Mailing Address: Postfach 30 20 40 2000 Hamburg 36 tel: 040-41 18 22 53 (from Germany) tel: 049-40-41 18 22 53 (from the US)

EDITION: GEO C2498E No2. February 1988

With sincere appreciation to Frau Barbara Hayes, M.A., Universität München-Gladbach; M.A., Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies; Ph.D. (cand), University of Riverside; and numerous other academic honors. As a dedicated educator and personal friend, she taught me to translate "das Gefühl" as well as the words, and without whose tutelage, much of the spirit of this article would have been "lost in the translation."