Great state box of the Freemasons of Germany

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Saint George's Cross
The paw or Templar cross , a symbol of Freemasonry according to the Swedish rite and emblem of the Masonic Order

The Grand State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany (GLL FvD or GLL), also: Freemason Order (FO) is an association of "regular" Masonic lodges . This grand lodge belongs to the United Grand Lodges of Germany (VGLvD). It was founded in 1770 by Johann Wilhelm Kellner von Zinnendorf , who was General Medic of the Prussian Army at the time. It is one of the three so-called old Prussian grand lodges.

The daughter boxes of the Great State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany name Jesus Christ as their chief master. This grand lodge is a Christian order of Freemasons, which differs in terms of content and organization from other types of Freemasons. However, since the Masonic Order is not a religious community and does not want to be, it is of no importance to the brothers to which Christian denomination the individual belongs. Belonging to a church is not required, but “confession of the teaching of Jesus Christ as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures”.

The Masonic Order requires every member to work constantly to develop his or her personality. Reason and conscience, inner freedom and self-knowledge as well as the awareness of responsibility are essential means for the Freemason Brothers to come closer to the knowledge of the origin, the essence and the purpose of human beings and all being.


The Grand State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany has three religious departments

  • Johannisloge (1st to 3rd degree),
  • Andreasloge (4th to 6th degree) and the
  • Chapter (7th to 10th degree)

- in addition there is the highest chapter of the order for the holders of the degree of knight commanders with approx. 70 members - via a closed teaching building in a teaching style based on the Swedish system , as is particularly prevalent in the Scandinavian countries.

Institutions of the Masonic Order are:

  • the research association Frederik based in Flensburg / Husum, founded in 1982,
  • the Freemason Museum in St. Michaelisdonn ,
  • the Zinnendorf Foundation in Hamburg-Eppendorf, founded in 1991,
  • the circular correspondence as a membership journal, founded in 1872,
  • the St. Johannis Bruderhilfe for self-help, which was founded in 1998 and carries out social aid projects in Eastern Europe.

The new order house is located in Berlin-Dahlem, the old order house fell victim to the Second World War . At the top is the order master, elected only by the knight commanders, while the state grand master, elected by the general assembly (consisting of masters from the chair and speaking Andreas masters), oversees the grand state box. The most prominent master of the order was the later (1888) Emperor Friedrich III as Crown Prince . There are currently ten provincial lodges, which administratively combine the Johannis and Andreas lodges of a district.

The Grand State Lodge is structured differently than the other German Grand Lodges , as the high levels of the Swedish rite it deals with are offered in separate departments (order departments), but form a solid overall structure. The state grandmaster presides over the grand state box, which only consists of the first six degrees. It is comparable to the grandmasters of other grand lodges. Its management extends over the Johannis and Andreas lodges (I to VI degrees). The leadership of the order (from the VI. Degree) is incumbent on the order master. The master of the order heads the chapters of the order and watches over the doctrine and customs of the Great National Lodge (I. to VI.) And the Order (VII. To X.). The Grand Officials Council is at the side of the State Grand Master, the Order Master the Order Council.

The St. John's lodges of the GLLFvD are comparable with the lodges of the other Masonic teaching types and also work on the same degrees. The Andreas boxes and order chapters are advanced levels of knowledge and thus high degrees.

According to its own information, the GLL currently has around 3,500 brothers. In 1934 there were still about 20,000 brothers in 178 lodges , particularly in the former Prussia. In the area of ​​the former GDR, 18 Johannis and 2 Andreas lodges have now been reactivated. In 2007 the Grand State Lodge comprised 109 St. John's lodges, 26 Andreas lodges, 10 provincial lodges and 11 religious chapters. The Grand State Lodge is most strongly represented in Hamburg, Lower Saxony and Berlin. In the last few years a St. John's Lodge has been built in Lomé / Togo , Riga / Latvia and Monaco .

The provincial lodges are an intermediate point between the Johannis and Andreas lodges and the state grand master. Administratively, they combine the lodges in their region in order to simplify the work of the state grandmaster. All provincial lodges still in existence today, with the exception of the Provincial Lodge of Lower Saxony, were not built until the 20th century. The boundaries of today's provincial lodges roughly correspond to the boundaries of today's federal states after which they are named.

Provincial lodge of Lower Saxony in Hamburg, lodge house on Moorweidenstrasse

The provincial lodges currently in existence are:

The historical provincial lodges of the GLLFvD were, in addition to the still existing first provincial lodge of Lower Saxony, the provincial lodges of Silesia (1779–1935), Pomerania (1777–1812) and Austria (1776–1783) founded in 1777/78. This was followed by a provincial lodge of Russia in Petersburg (1777–1785) and in 1808 a provincial lodge of Westphalia with its seat in Halberstadt . These provincial lodges no longer exist.

Early history

In the 18th century a good 70% of the German Masonic lodges worked on the system of strict observance . In the 1860s there was increasing displeasure against the meaningless but pompous rituals and the “economic plan” of Strict Observance. Also dissatisfied with this system, Johann Wilhelm Kellner from Zinnendorf went to London with the request for a lodge patent. Since there were already numerous Masonic lodges and existing grand lodges in Berlin, London refused.

Next he tried to get a patent and rituals from Karl Friedrich Eckleff through an acquaintance in Sweden in December 1763 . This failed, but other friends of Zinnendorf continued the experiments. At that time, Zinnendorf was still acting with the knowledge and consent of the Army Master of the Strict Observance.

It was only his brother Baumann who succeeded in gaining Eckleff's trust and on September 14, 1766 with the ritual files, a license to found lodges of the Swedish system , instructions for the master of the order, instructions for the establishment of a chapter and a personal letter from Eckleff to Zinnendorf in Berlin to return. Shortly afterwards there was a rift between Zinnendorf and von Hund , the master of the strict observance. On December 16, 1766, Zinnendorf left the Strict Observance and since then has concentrated on founding its own grand lodge. In Zinnendorf's application to leave Baron von Hund it says literally:

"After that I know now more and more convinced that the society which calls itself strict observance is a mere fiction and a reason for negative intentions for the actual Freymaurey and its true members."

In the period that followed, Baumann's files were translated into German and several lodges were founded in Berlin that worked according to the new system. Zinnendorf's goal was to found his new grand lodge with at least 12 lodges , but in the end it was decided to found the great state lodge of the Freemasons of Germany with 7 Johannis lodges and one Andreas lodge on December 27, 1770 .

Zinnendorf tried to establish friendly relations with the Grand Lodge in London after the establishment. On November 30, 1773, a letter of recognition was issued by London, with which they recognized the Grand Lodge as the only Grand Lodge of the German Empire and thus as an equal grand lodge alongside them.

On October 14, 1773, there was a meeting of representatives of the Grand National Lodge with representatives of the Strict Observance, at which a shaky agreement was reached in the years of dispute between the two systems after the break in 1766.

Another milestone for the Grand State Lodge was Frederick the Great's letter of protection from July 16, 1774, with which he granted the Grand State Lodge its royal protection.

In Sweden, Duke Karl von Södermanland took over the office of Master of the Order von Eckleff in 1773. Since this was also offered the office of master of the strict observance and he accepted this, there was a break between the Grand Lodge of Sweden and the Grand Lodge.

Around 1778, 34 lodges had joined the Great State Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany, after the death of its founder von Zinnendorf in 1782 there were a total of 62 lodges. Provincial lodges arose in Austria, Silesia , Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Russia.

19th century

Nettelbladt as chapter master of the GLLFvD

The history of the Grand State Lodge in the 19th century was marked by several high points. After the death of King Charles XIII. on February 5, 1818 there was a reconciliation with Sweden, which ended on April 13, 1819 in a friendship treaty. With the new rituals coming from Sweden, Christian Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Nettelbladt carried out an important ritual reform until 1832.

In 1872 Adolf Widmann founded the Zirkelkorrespondenz, a Freemason magazine that is still published today for members of the Grand State Lodge. Widmann traveled to Sweden in 1869 and continued to work on further editing of the rituals.

Otto Hieber

In addition to the editing of the rituals by Nettelbladt and Widmann, the rituals and teachings of the Great State Lodge underwent extensive exegesis by Otto Hieber that is still relevant today .

The two most prominent members of the Grand State Lodge in the 19th century were certainly the Emperors Wilhelm I and Friedrich III. , the latter was as crown prince master of the grand national box.

20th century

After a conference between Hermann Göring and State Grand Master von Heeringen on April 7, 1933, the GLL parted with its Masonic principles and in particular eliminated all Old Testament passages in the ritual and all Masonic designations. She gave herself the name "German-Christian Order of the Templars".

On April 10, 1933 von Heeringen informed the other two old Prussian grand lodges of this conversion. The other old Prussian grand lodges followed their example in the following days.

Internally, all typical Masonic elements have been changed or deleted. The kilts were abolished, the Temple of Solomon in the "Deutscher Dom" or the Strasbourg Cathedral transformed, all Old Testament ritual passages had been deleted and the Hiramslegende by Baldur forecast replaced.

In fact, no case has come to light in which the NSDAP recognized the conversion resolution of a German grand lodge.

Thus, instead of an opportunistic attitude, the leaders of the national lodges were more likely to blame for a blatant misjudgment of the role that Freemasonry had to play in the National Socialist worldview. Years of folk propaganda had stylized Freemasonry, similar to Judaism, into a kind of abstract negative symbol beyond all reality. So she was considered an ideological opponent.

The GLL tried to defend itself by legal means against the increasingly violent riots by the SA against the lodges from 1933 onwards . Of course, the intended legal proceedings against local SA and party leaders were unsuccessful.

After these legal paths failed, there was no longer any significant resistance from the GLL. She is said to have tried to intervene by the Swedish King Gustav V (Sweden) , which was apparently unsuccessful. She still managed to get essential parts of her archive to Sweden via unknown channels. These were returned in 1978.

In the spring of 1935, the Great Lodge of Prussia, known as “To Friendship”, made a push to finally clarify the situation. They sent their most prominent member, Reich Minister Hjalmar Schacht, to see Hitler and learned that a dissolution of German Freemasonry was inevitable, although the Christian grand lodges "could not be blamed for anything".

The Reich Ministry of the Interior instructed the grand lodges to initiate liquidation procedures for themselves and their daughter lodges by July 21, 1935 at the latest. The closing ceremony of the GLLFvD took place on July 14, 1935.

Efforts to reopen the Grand State Lodge began immediately after the Second World War . The first master of the order in the post-war period was Hans Oehmen, the first state grandmaster was Paul Rosenthal, who died in 1946. The negotiations that ultimately led to the establishment of the United Grand Lodges of Germany - Brotherhood of Freemasons, were led by the 19th order master Fritz Pauk.

Known members

The order masters of the GLLFvD

The state grandmasters of the GLLFvD

The religious houses

After the Grand State Lodge initially worked in private houses in the early years, the property at Oranienburger Strasse 71/72 in Berlin was acquired by Friedrich Nicolai in 1786 . Under the direction of Hofbaurat Friedrich Becherer , the first religious house was built in two years and handed over to the Great State Lodge in 1791. The house initially remained in private ownership and housed the French General Staff between 1806 and 1816.

In 1821 the house became the property of the Grand State Lodge. In 1839 the order house was enlarged and received a classical facade. Since the number of the Berlin friars had risen to over 1200, the house had to be expanded again in 1845. In 1898 it was sold to the post office because it was no longer possible to expand it again. Until the completion of the new order house, the lodges of the great state lodge worked in the premises of the other two old Prussian grand lodges.

The foundation stone for the second religious house at Eisenacher Strasse 11-13 in Berlin-Schöneberg was laid on November 11, 1898; the building was inaugurated on November 18, 1900. It was the largest religious house that the grand national box owned. 8 temple rooms, 2 large ballrooms, 2 assembly rooms, 3 conference rooms, 6 official apartments, an archive, a museum hall and several administrative offices were located on 15,000 m² of usable space. Due to the expropriation of the Masonic lodges by the National Socialist government in 1935, the religious house was lost. It was badly damaged by bombing and looting during World War II. As early as December 1945 the basement of the house was used again for meetings, but the house could not be rebuilt, so the property was sold in 1965.

Today's religious house is located in Peter-Lenné-Str. 1-3.


  • Helmut Neuberger: angle measure and swastika . Herbig Verlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7766-2222-9 .
  • Ferdinand Runkel: History of Freemasonry . Edition Lempertz, Bonn 2006, ISBN 3-933070-96-1 .
  • GLLFvD (Ed.): Handbuch der GLLFvD 2007 , Verlag Rudolf Stade.
  • Jürgen Holtorf: The Masons' lodges. Nikol Verlag, Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-930656-58-2 .
  • Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder: Internationales Freemaurerlexikon. Revised and expanded new edition of the 1932 edition, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7766-2161-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. rule of the order GLLFvD
  2. a b c d Manual of GLLFvD 2007
  3. Runkel II p. 119.
  4. Runkel II p. 121.
  5. Runkel II p. 122.
  6. Runkel II p. 142.
  7. Runkel II p. 198.
  8. Holtorf p. 69f.
  9. Neuberger pp. 245/246
  10. Neuberger p. 249
  11. Neuberger p. 248.
  12. Neuberger p. 256.
  13. Neuberger p. 257.
  14. Self-presentation on the GLLFvD website
  15. Self-presentation on the GLLFvD website