Throughout its history, Freemasonry has been victim of numerous abuses by Governments that fit with the definition of totalitarianism. These abuses have gone from simple prohibition to gather, through prison sentences and reaching the death penalty (for the simple fact of being Mason). Europe has been the main geographical area where took place the Suppression of totalitarianism against Freemasonry.
Freemasonry has been simultaneously accused of being sympathetic to communism and bourgeois capitalism, as it were a right or left-wing totalitarianism.
Adolf Hitler saw in Freemasonry a danger, his animosity towards Freemasonry could have foundations, because exactly was Freemasons who overthrew him, let us remember the U.S. Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and the British part was Williston Churchill all Freemasons who fought to overcome it.
Hitler and his hatred of Freemasonry is clearly documented. In 1931, the nazi party officials were given a “Guide and of instruction letter”, stating: “the natural hostility of the peasants against the Jews, and their hostility to Freemasonry”. On April 7, 1933, Hermann Goering, who once considered to be a mason – met with the Grand Master von Heeringen of the of the Grand Lodge of Germany, saying that there was no place of Freemasonry in nazi Germany. The official Manual for the schooling of Hitler Youth, attacked the masons and Marxists, the Christian churches by their “erroneous teaching of the equality of all men”.
In 1940, at the beginning of the second world war, there were forty-two Grand Lodges, ten and eight in Europe, one in Asia, five in North America, seven in Central America and eleven in South America
During the second world war, were killing centers at a later stage of the program of annihilation. The repression in Europe was ruthless in the decades of the 20 to 50 of the twentieth century. The Soviet regime pursued, arrested, tortured, and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of masons in Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. For its part, the Nazis did the same thing in Austria, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Poland, France, Romania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, as well as the fascism in Italy, the Franco regime in Spain and the dictator Salazar in Portugal.
What little has transcended the Esterwegen concentration camp since it was created in 1933 and commanded by Otto Reich. Where Karl Von Ossietzky (writer and Nobel Laureate) was a prisoner and is has been able to determine that its facilities were killed murdered or due to exhaustion, forced some 30,000 people. Since 1941, began arriving en masse from inmates of Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia and France. Today, the field is occupied by the German army.
On November 15, 1943, seven Masons active members of the Belgian resistance to the NAZI occupation founded a secret Masonic lodge called “Liberté Chérie” in barrack number 6 of the Emslandlager VII concentration camp in Esterwegen. They took the name from “La Marseillaise”.( It is the national anthem of France, officially since July 14, 1795)
The names of the seven founders were: Paul Hanson, Luc Somerhausen, Jean Schriver, Jean Sugg, Henry Store, Amedec Miclotte, and Franz Rochat. The Venerable master was Paul Hanson and the brothers gathered around a table usually used for the classification of carton packs. Subsequently Fernand Erauw was initiated in the Lodge, who even came to be exalted to the master’s degree there same. Franz Bridoux, initiated after the war, was also a prisoner in the same hut.
The respectable lodge “Liberté Chérie” is registered on the number 45 in the Grand Lodge in the East of Belgium, and only the brothers Somerhausen and Erauw survived detention. The lodge ceased its work in 1944. The history of the lodge became public in August 1945, when Luc Somerhausen sent a detailed report to the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Belgium which narrated the story of the “Liberté Chérie” Lodge, Somerhausen died in 1982 at the age of 79 years and Fernand Eraw, at the age of 83. Somerhausen described Erauw initiation and other ceremonies as simple
According to his account the meetings took place through an extremely simplified ritual where the members were instructing to the new ones in such a way that they could then participate in a lodge. Interestingly, the works were protected from the eyes of other prisoners and guards by a group of Catholic priests who were deported to the same barrack.
In barrack number 6 of Esterwegen remained detained 24 hours a day, an average of a hundred of prisoners eligible to leave half an hour daily under supervision. Throughout the day, half of them worked ordering radio devices and the other half were forced to work in inhumane conditions in the nearby quarries. The food was so bad that the prisoners lost an average of four pounds per month.
After the initiation of the new brother tinted, other issues are happening. One of them was directed to the symbol of the great architect of the universe, one on the future of Belgium and one more to the role of women in Freemasonry. The Venerable lodge master, Paul Hanson, was transferred to death in the ruins of the prison in Essen, which was destroyed by a bombing by the allies on 26 March 1944
Jean Sugg, and Franz Rochat were members of the lodge: “Amis Philanthopes” (friends philanthropists). Dr. Franz Rochat, a University Professor, pharmacist and director of an important medical laboratory. Working in secret to a journal of the resistance “The voice of Belgium”. He was arrested on February 28, 1942 and transferred to Untermansfeld in April 1944 where he died on April 6, 1945.
Jean Sugg, was a German Swiss who was born on September 8, 1897 in Ghent. He worked with Franz Rochat in the media of the resistance, translating the German and Swiss texts. He participated in various clandestine wages, including “La Libre Belgique” “La Legión Noire”, “La Petit Belge” and “L ‘ Ánti Boche”. He died in the concentration camp on February 8, 1945
Amédée Miclotte was a teacher born on 20 December 1902 in Lahamaide, and member of the lodge “Union the Progres”. He was last seen in prison on February 8, 1945. Jean De Schrijver was Colonel of the Belgian army, was born on August 23, 1893 in Aalst. He was arrested for espionage and possession of weapons, died in February 1945. Henry Store was born on November 27, 1897 in Gand, was a member of the “Lodge Septentrion” (the North) in Gand. He died on December 5, 1944. Lue Smomerhausen was a journalist born on 26 August 1903 in Hocilaart. He was arrested on May 28, 1943 in Brussels: belonged to the lodge “Action et Solidarite No. 3″ (action and solidarity No. 3), served as Grand Secretary Deputy of the Grand Lodge in the East of Belgium.
Fernand Erauw, Secretary of the Court of Auditors of Belgium and in the infantry reserve officer, was born on January 29, 1914 in Wemmel. On August 4, 1942 he was arrested for belonging to the secret army. He escaped and was recaptured in 1943.
Survivors Erauw and Somerhausen reunited in 1944 at an Oranienburg concentration camp. Somerhausen and Erauw were inseparable forever. In the spring of 1945, participated in the “March of death”, when only Erauw was weighed 70 lbs.
Because of persecutions and bans, the Lodges stopped communicating with England and adopted the system of symbolic names. During the second world war the masons used a secret language or and secret alphabet
On 13 November of 2004 was inaugurated a monument designed by architect Jean De Salle, where was funded by Masons Belgians and Germans which forms part of the complex of the Esterwegen Memorial
Amid the relentless Nazi persecution of Freemasonry, the Grand Orient of Belgium has a very brave experience that lived in this concentration camp in Esterwegen, Germany. In honor of the truth, is not the only case of a Masonic lodge in these circumstances. There was at least another called “Captifs Brothers Allach” (Captives Brothers of Allach) in an annex of the concentration camp of Dachau Allach, whose book of architecture today rests in the modern Museum of the Grand Orient of France in Paris.
In 1948 small blue flower called ” Forget-me-not ” was adopted as the distinctive Masonic emblem in the first Convention annual of the great United Grand Lodge of ancient free and accepted masons of Germany. Today day continues to use in memory of those who have suffered in the name of Freemasonry, especially in Germany during the Third Reich.
This article was written by Psalm Triginta