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Freemasonry under the Nazis

By now, most people know that the Nazi regime perpetrated genocide against the Jewish people killing some 6 million of them. It is also pretty much common knowledge that certain other groups, noticeably, gypsies, homosexuals, and those with strong politics opposing Nazism were also subjected to concentration camps and mass killings. However, not many people realize that Freemasons were also persecuted during the Nazi regime.

Masons Need Not Apply

At first, the Nazis didn't devote their full attention to the Freemasons, though those lodges having a more tolerant attitude toward equality were pressured to dissolve and close their doors. Some of the German lodges managed to placate the regime into allowing them to continue their activities for a short time longer. However, any Masons who refused to disavow their Masonic memberships were excluded from the Nazi regime.

In 1934, the Nazi Party Court System ruled that Masons who had not resigned their memberships before January 30, 1933, would not be allowed membership in the Nazi party. Not many days later, Hermann Goering, the Prussian Minister of the Interior, issued a decree asking Masonic lodges to voluntarily dissolve their lodges with the proviso that they must not do so without requesting approval, first. German SS and SA terrorized individual lodges without appearing to have received any official sanction to do so.

Assets Confiscated

Those lodge members who held positions in the civil service were coerced into retirement. By May of 1934, the Ministry of Defense made membership in the Masons illegal for all its personnel: both military and civilian employees. Later that summer, the Gestapo closed down most Masonic lodges, taking over their assets, including archives and libraries. By the end of October of the same year, a decree issued by Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick labeled the lodges as "hostile to the state" under the Reichstag Fire Decree and by August of the next year, ordered that any remaining lodges and branches be dissolved and their assets taken.

There was an attempt in Nazi propaganda to link the Jews with the Freemasons, claiming a conspiracy between the two groups against the Nazi regime. Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Security Police and the SD, considered the Masons, along with politically minded clergy, and Jews, to be the, “most implacable enemies of the German race.”

Heydrich called on the German people to eliminate from their midst, “indirect influence of the Jewish spirit…a Jewish, liberal, and Masonic infectious residue that remains in the unconscious of many, above all in the academic and intellectual world.”

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