Suppression of Freemasonry

Suppression of Freemasonry

Some governments, mostly authoritarian, and virtually all totalitarian, regimes have treated Freemasonry as a potential source of opposition due to its secret nature and international connections. It has been alleged by Masonic scholars that the language used by the totalitarian regimes is similar to that used by some modern critics of Freemasonry.cite web
title= Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry
author= Paul M. Bessel
date = November 1994
accessdate= 2007-10-22

Papal States

In 1736 the Florentine Inquisition investigated a Masonic Lodge in Florence, Italy,Fom the biography of [ Tommaso Crudeli] on thewebsite of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon] and the Lodge was condemned in June 1737. The lodge had originally been founded by English Masons, but accepted Italian members.

In 1738, Pope Clement XII issued Eminenti Apostolatus Specula, the first Papal prohibition on Freemasonry.

United States

After the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan, who was kidnapped by Freemasons [Ridley, Jasper;"The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society", pp. 180-181 (Arcade Publishing 1999).] after publishing an expose and then apparently killed [Finney, Charles Grandison; [ "The Character, Claims, and Practical Workings of Freemasonry"] .] , the Morgan affair resulted in increased suspicion of Freemasonry and the formation of the Anti-Masonic Party. William A. Palmer of Vermont and Joseph Ritner of Pennsylvania were both elected governor of their respective states on anti-Masonic platforms.

Though few states passed laws directed at Freemasonry by name, laws regulating and restricting it were passed and many cases dealing with Freemasonry were seen in the courts. [Mackey, Albert Gallatin and H. L. Haywood [Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Part 3 ] , p. 1286, Kessinger Publishing 1909] Antimasonic legislation was passed in Vermont in 1833, including a provision by which the giving and willing taking of an unnecessary oath was made a crime. (Pub. Stat., sec. 5917). [ [ Vermont] Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911, Accessed June 26, 2008] The state of Massachusetts enacted a law against Clandestine Bodies and the state of New York enacted a Benevolent Orders Law to regulate such organizations. [Mackey, Albert Gallatin and H. L. Haywood [Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Part 3 ] , p. 1286, Kessinger Publishing 1909]

The former sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, objecting to the oath of secrecy, in particular to keeping undefined secrets, and to the penalties for breaking the oath, declared, "Masonry ought forever to be abolished. It is wrong-essentially wrong-a seed of evil which can never produce any good." [Adams, John Quincy [ Letters on the Masonic Institution ] , p. 68-71, 1847Press of T.R. Marvin]


In 1919, Béla Kun proclaimed the dictatorship of the proletariat in Hungary. This marked the start of raids by army officers on Masonic lodges [ Famous Anti-Masons] ] along with theft, and sometimes destruction, of Masonic libraries, records, archives, paraphernalia, and works of art. Several Masonic buildings were seized and used for anti-Masonic exhibitions. Masonry was outlawed by a decree in 1920.

In post war Hungary, lodges were described as "meeting places of the enemies of the people's democratic republic, of capitalistic elements, and of the adherents of Western imperialism." [ 'Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry'] Paul M. Bessel, November 1994, Retrieved 29 October 2005]

Eastern Europe

Freemasonry was suppressed throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Communist era. [" The New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967)] Soviet Russia outlawed Masonry in 1922. Freemasonry does not exist today in the Soviet Union, China, or other Communist states. Postwar revivals of Freemasonry in Czechoslovakia and Hungary were suppressed in 1950.]

The Islamic world

After the condemnation of Freemasonry by Clement XII in 1738, Sultan Mahmut I followed suit outlawing the organization and since that time Freemasonry was equated with atheism in the Ottoman Empire and the broader Islamic world. Layiktez, Cecil [ Freemasonry in the Islamic World] Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry 1996] The opposition in the Islamic world has been reinforced by the anticlerical and perceived atheist slant of the Grand Orient of France.

Perhaps the most influential entity interpreting Sharia, or Islamic law, the Islamic Jurisdictional College on July 15 1978 issued an opinion regarding Freemasonry asseting that it is a "dangerous" and "clandestine" organization.

Freemasonry is illegal in most of the Islamic world. It is prohibited in all Arab countries except Lebanon and Morocco.


Benito Mussolini decreed in 1924 that every member of his Fascist Party who was a Mason must abandon either one or the other organization, and in 1925, he dissolved Freemasonry in Italy, claiming that it was a political organisation. It is worth noting that General Cappello, one of the most prominent Fascists, and who had also been Deputy Grand Master of the Grande Oriente, Italy's leading Grand Lodge, gave up his membership in the Fascist Party rather than in Masonry. He was later arrested on false charges and sentenced to 30 years in jail.'The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction', Alphonse Cerza, published by the Masonic Service Association, September 1967]

However as the membership list of the elite P2 Masonic Lodge revealed in 1981 many Italian Fascists and Black Shirt Members later became Freemasons. The Grand Master of P2, Lucio Gelli, was an intelligence officer with the Herman Goering Division and a fervent Mussolini supporter. [BBC, Italian Press, In God's Name, Yallop, Inside the Brotherhood, Short]


It is claimed that the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera ordered the abolition of Freemasonry in Spain."In 1925, Spain's first dictator of this generation, General Primo de Rivera, ordered the abolition of Freemasonry in his country." [ The Anhilation of Freemasonry] by Sven G. Lunden by The American Mercury Newspaper, 1941. Hosted by the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland] In September 1928, one of the two Grand Lodges in Spain was closed and many Masons were included among those arrested for allegedly plotting against the government.Fact|date=February 2007 Under the dictator General Francisco Franco, Freemasonry was outlawed in Spain on 2 March 1940.] Being a Mason was automatically punishable by a jail term: up to six years for those holding degrees up to the 18th, and more for Masons with higher degrees. It was reported that Masons were shot, tortured and murdered in every town in Spain, although details are lacking. The Republican Regime which Franco overthrew had a strong Masonic presence."Following the election of the Socialist government in Spain, and the king's withdrawal from the country, there was an absolute avalanche of public officials who rushed to the Grand Orient Lodges to request entry. They thought they could thus be free of the persecution which had been practiced by the majority of Masons in the government. Their purpose was to give evidence of their republicanism and to prevent the certainty of having their careers ruined." General Mola, Chief of Spanish Internal Security, "Tempestad Calma Intriga Y Crisis", quoted in [ Pawns In The Game] by William G. Carr]

The suppression of Freemasons in Spain continued into the 1970s. [ 'Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry'] Paul M. Bessel, November 1994, Retrieved 29 October 2005]


In 1938, a Japanese representative to the Weltdienst congress stated, on behalf of Japan, that "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." [ 'Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry'] Paul M. Bessel, November 1994, Retrieved 29 October 2005]

Other countries

Freemasonry was persecuted in all the communist countries, but the organisation has survived in Cuba, allegedly providing safe haven for dissidents. [ [ Cuba's muzzled mavericks find haven among Masons] , by Gary Marx, published April 14 2005]

Nazi Germany and occupied Europe

The Nazis claimed that high degree Masons were willing members of "the Jewish conspiracy" and that Freemasonry was one of the causes of Germany's loss of the First World War. In "Mein Kampf", Adolf Hitler writes that Freemasonry has "succumbed" to the Jews and has 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. He continues, "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. [A. Hitler, "Mein Kampf", pages 315 and 320.] In 1933 Hermann Goering, the Reichstag President and one of the key figures in the process of "Gleichschaltung" ("synchronization"), states " National Socialist Germany, there is no place for Freemasonry." cite news
accessdate= 2007-10-22
title= The Annihilation of Freemasonry
publisher= The American Mercury
volume = Volume LII, No. 206
date= February 1941

The "Enabling Act" ("Ermächtigungsgesetz" in German) was passed by Germany's parliament (the Reichstag) on March 23, 1933. Using the "Act", on January 8, 1934 the German Ministry of the Interior ordered the disbandment of Freemasonry, and confiscation of the property of all Lodges; stating that those who had been members of Lodges when Hitler came to power, in January 1933, were prohibited from holding office in the Nazi party or its paramilitary arms, and were ineligible for appointment in public service. [ [ "The "Enabling Act"] Accessed February 23 2006.] Consistently considered an ideological foe of Nazism in their world perception ("Weltauffassung"), special sections of the Security Service (SD) and later the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) were established to deal with the Freemasonry. [ [ Documented evidence from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum pertaining to the persecution of the Freemasons] accessed 21 May, 2006] Freemasonic concentration camp inmates were graded as “Political” prisoners, and wore an inverted (point down) red triangle. ["The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust", volume 2, page 531, citing Katz, "Jews and Freemasons in Europe".]

In March 1935 According to Joseph Goebbels, the Soviet Union's recent inclusion in the League of Nations was engineered by 300 "members of the Jewish race and conspirators of Freemasonry." On August 8, 1935, as Führer and Chancellor, Adolf Hitler announced in the Nazi Party newspaper, "Voelkischer Beobachter", the final dissolution of all Masonic Lodges in Germany. The article accused a conspiracy of the Fraternity and “World Jewry” of seeking to create a “World Republic”. [Bro. E Howe, "Freemasonry in Germany", Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No 2076 (UGLE), 1984 Yearbook.] In 1937 Joseph Goebbels inaugurated an "Anti-Masonic Exposition" to display objects seized by the state. [ The American Mercury Newspaper, 1941] accessed 21 may, 2006 ] The Ministry of Defence forbid officers from becoming Freemasons, with officers who remained as Masons being sidelined. [ 'Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry'] Paul M. Bessel, November 1994, Retrieved 29 October 2005]

During the war, Freemasonry was banned by edict in all countries that were either allied with the Nazis or under Nazi control, including Norway and France. Anti-Masonic exhibitions were held in many occupied countries. Field-Marshal Friedrich Paulus was denounced as a "High-grade Freemason" when he surrendered to the Soviet Union in 1943.Denslow, Freemasonry in the Eastern Hemisphere, at page 111, citing a letter from Dr. Otto Arnemann in 1947, cited as [ Note 22] in "Bigotry and the Murder of Freemasonry" by Paul M. Bessel]

The preserved records of the RSHA - Reichssicherheitshauptamt Office of the High Command of Security Service pursuing the racial objectives of the SS through Race and Resettlement Office, show the persecution of the Freemasons. [ [ Documented evidence from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum pertaining to the persecution of the Freemasons] accessed 21 may, 2006] The number of Freemasons from Nazi occupied countries who were killed is not accurately known, but it is estimated that between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were murdered under the Nazi regime."Freemasons for Dummies", by [ Christopher Hodapp] , Wiley Publishing Inc., Indianapolis, 2005, p.85, sec. "Hitler and the Nazi"]


There was a time when there existed a number of lodges in Iraq when the country was under British Mandate just after the First World War. However the position changed in July 1958 following the Revolution, with the abolition of the Monachy and Iraq being declared a republic, under General Quessiem. The licences permitting lodges to meet were rescinded and later laws were introduced banning any further meetings. This position was later reinforced under Saddam Hussein the death penalty was "prescribed" for those who "promote or acclaim Zionist principles, including freemasonry, or who associate [themselves] with Zionist organizations." [cite news
title= Saddam to be formally charged
publisher= Washington Times
date = 1 July 2004
] With the fall of the Hussein government following the US Invasion of Iraq, there has been a number of Lodges that have met associated with the US and UK Military units. In 2005, the Land, Air and Sea Lodge, No. 1 of the Grand Lodge of New York, was reactivated for the benefit of the US Military. Currently this lodge is not working but there are proposals to reactivate it.

United Kingdom

It was the Unlawful Societies Act of 1799 that saw the first statue "for the more effectual suppression of societies established for seditious and treasonable purposes" once enacted it affected all societies whose members were required to take an oath not authorised by law, shall be deemed "unlawful combinations." It was as a result of the intervention of the Grand Master of the Antients, The 4th Duke of Atholl, and the Acting Grand Master of the Moderns, the earl of Moira that a special exempting clause was inserted into this legislation in favour of societies "held under the Denomination of Lodges of Freemasons" provided that they had been "usually held before the Act" and their names, places and times of meeting and the names of the members were annually registered with the local Clerk to the Justices of the Peace. This continued on until 1967 when this Act was repealed by a section of the Criminal Justice Act which meant that the annual returns of all the Lodges to the authorities ceased. Since 1997, several members of the British Government have attempted to pass laws requiring Freemasons who join the police or judiciary [ "New judges must declare masonic membership"] , BBC, March 5, 1998, retrieved Feb 26, 2006] to declare their membership publicly to the government amid accusations of Freemasons performing acts of mutual advancement and favour-swapping. This movement was initially led by Jack Straw, Home Secretary from 1997 until 2001. In 1999, the Welsh Assembly became the only body in the United Kingdom to place a legal requirement on membership declaration for Freemasons. [ "Freemason policy review due"] , BBC, Dec 8, 2001, retrieved Feb 26, 2006] Currently, existing members of the police and judiciary in England are asked to voluntarily admit to being Freemasons. [ "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 21 Jul 2005 (pt 69) "] , UK House of Commons, July 21, 2005, retrieved Oct 2, 2007] However, all first time successful judiciary candidates "must declare their freemasonry status" before appointment. Conversely, new members of the police are not required to declare their status.

In 2004, Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, said that he blocked Gerard Elias' appointment to counsel general because of links to hunting and freemasonry [ "Morgan criticised over job blocking"] , BBC, March 22, 2004, retrieved Feb 26, 2006] , although it was claimed by non-Labour politicians that the real reason was in order to have a Labour supporter, Malcolm Bishop, in the role."Mr Morgan wanted another QC, Malcolm Bishop, who has stood as a Labour candidate and is a close associate of former Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine." [ Morgan 'blocked' QC appointment] ]

Notes and references

ee also

* Freemasonry

External links

* [ The Blue Forget Me Not, Another Side of the Story by W.Bro. Alain Bernheim 33rd]
* [ German Freemasonry and it's Attitudes towards the Nazi Regime, by W. Bro. Alain Bernheim 33rd Degree]
* [ Masons who were killed by the Nazis for being Masons]
* [ 1941 article about Totalitarians persecuting Masons]
* [ Freemasonry from Spain (Banned by Franco)]

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