American Canadian Grand Lodge
Freemasonry in Germany has a long and proud heritage, tracing back to possibly 1733. We are certain a lodge in Hamburg was formed in late 1737, and in the following year Frederick the Great (1712-1786), then 26, was made a Mason at a special communication of that lodge held in the city of Brunswick. When he acceded to the throne of Prussia two years later he openly declared himself to be a Freemason. His endorsement and protection of the fraternity was a factor in fostering its further growth and development.
In later years many of Germany’s great and famous men were ardent Freemasons, including, among others, such men as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Masonry in Germany, during its first two hundred years, witnessed the establishment of a number of Grand Lodges, the result of various ‘systems’ evolving from schisms.
Fressmasonry in the dark years of Germany
In 1937, two centuries after the establishment of the Lodge in Hamburg, the Nazi regime in Germany declared the Masonic fraternity an enemy of the state. Masonic records and property were confiscated by order of the authorities; many members were sent off to concentration camps, perhaps for no greater crime than being Freemasons.
With the rise of Nazism it was dangerous to wear any emblems identifiable with Freemasonry. The Grand Lodge of the Sun (a pre-World War II Grand Lodge) adopted a little flower, the Forget Me Nots as an emblem, to reduce the risk of exposure. The very name itself, ‘Forget Me Not’, was significant of the desire to keep Freemasonry alive in the heart and in the mind.
In the cities and concentration camps throughout Europe this tiny flower identified those ‘sons of light’ who refused to allow the Light of Masonry to be extinguished. Thus did a simple blue flower evolve into what became a very meaningful emblem of the Masonic fraternity; as a lapel pin, the Forget Me Not eventually became the most widely worn pin among German Freemasons.
Soon after the close of hostilities and the fall of the Nazi regime, the Masonic Light was about to be rekindled in Germany. When the Remagen Bridgehead was established over the Rhein River during the final phases of WW II, Allied soldiers crossed over into Germany, and Freemasonry went in with them.
Freemasonry in Germany after 1945
When the German surrender was complete and the sword was once again returned to its sheath, Freemasonry began to make its presence known in the form and manner, and in the spirit and tradition exemplified by American, Canadian, and British Freemasonry.
Slowly and inexorably amidst the ruins and destruction of an entire country, Freemasonry began to emerge from darkness into light. Step by step, having overcome the distrust often associated with secret meetings, the Three Great Lights began to be displayed. Slowly, first in one area, and then in another, military authorities granted permission to meet, and German Freemasonry resumed work in earnest.
Newly Formed German Grand Lodges
It was truly an epic moment and the culmination of years of hard work, when on the 19th day of June 1949, in the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, the United Grand Lodge of Germany burst into existence. The selection of the ‘Paulskirche’ was perfect. St. Paul’s was the site of the first unification of the German states one hundred years earlier in 1848, when the first German National Assembly convened within its hallowed halls.It was here at this historic occasion that Most Worshipful Brother Dr. Theodor Vogel (1901-1977) was elected to serve as the first Grand Master of the newly formed United Grand Lodge, AF&AM of Germany.
The final unification of the Craft lodges in Germany became a fact in 1958 when the new ‘Magna Charts of German Freemasonry’ was adopted by the general assemblies of the United Grand Lodge, AF&AM of Germany and the Grand Land Lodge of Freemasons in Germany (FO). Thus the “United Grand Lodges of Germany – Brotherhood of German Freemasons” was established, thereby unifying all remaining elements of Freemasonry in Germany. The vital role-played in this period in the history of German Freemasonry by M.W. Bro. Vogel was once again documented when he was again elected in 1958 to serve as the first Grand Master of the new United Grand Lodges of Germany (VGLvD).