Great Lodge of Prussia called Royal York for Friendship

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The Grand Lodge Royal York for friendship (GL RYzF) is one of the eight regular Freemasons - Grand Lodge , which until 1935 in the German Reich existed. It was probably founded in Berlin in 1752 . In 1760 the Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds” (GNML 3WK) granted her a constitutional patent and recognized her as a daughter lodge with the name De l'Amitié aux trois Colombes (German: friendship to the three pigeons). After separating from the GNML (3WK), it finally received a constitutional patent from the Grand Lodge of England . It was most widespread in 1932 with 11,500 members in 104 lodges. It is the youngest of the three "old Prussian grand lodges". It exists today under the name Great Lodge Royal York for friendship with its original four daughter lodges ( Urania for Immortality, For Victory Truth, Friedrich Wilhelm for Crowned Justice and Pythagoras for the Flaming Star ) as an association within the Grand Lodge of the Old Free and Accepted Masons of Germany (GL AFuAM) continues.


In Berlin, French artists and scholars who worked for Frederick II founded the La Concorde (1754) and L'Amitié (1751 or 1752) lodges . The circumstances of the establishment of the Lodge L'Amitié are not documented. The lodge is first mentioned in the logs of the Great National Mother Lodge GNML (3WK) . After that, on May 5, 1760, the speaker of the L'Amitié lodge informed the GNML (3WK) that "a certain number of Freemasons wanted to set up their own lodge". In fact, on April 12, 1761, a patent was granted to the royal pensioner Cosme Patras, chairman of the new St. John's Lodge De l'Amitié aux trois Colombes. The three pigeons soon disappeared from the name and are only remembered by the coat of arms of today's grand lodge.

On July 27, 1765, the then 26-year-old Duke Eduard August von York , brother of George III. , King of England . The Duke was in transit in Berlin, taking on the role of protector of the lodge, which in his honor took on the name "Lodge Royale d'York de l'Amitié" ("Lodge Royal York for friendship"). When the GNML (3WK) joined the Strict Observance on March 5, 1767, the L'Amitié lodge separated from its mother lodge. The close connection to England led to a connection to the Grand Lodge of England on June 24, 1767. But apart from the patent letter, they received nothing, so that the lodge worked according to various rituals without fixed regulations. The conditions in the lodge around 1799 were considered desolate, one of its presiding masters even called the rituals, some of which came from dubious sources, as absurd and ridiculous. At that time, in addition to the three usual Masonic degrees, a fourth "Elû" degree was being worked on.

Recognition from London

A turning point occurred for the lodge in 1773/74. On November 30, 1773, London had recognized the Grand National Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany . Now London forbade the Royal York to establish their own lodges and gave them the freedom to remain under the Grand Lodge of England or to switch to the Grand Lodge. On May 19, 1774, the Royal York joined the Grand National Lodge. The great differences in the views of Freemasonry and in the rituals and degrees worked on led to the break in 1778. The Royal York worked according to the French ritual, partly in French, partly in German. After the three general Freemason degrees , the lodge awarded numerous high degrees: Elû des Quinze et des Neuf et de Perignan, Ecossois rouge, Ecossois Vert de St. André, Chevalier de l'Aigle et de Pelican ou Prince souverain de Roge Croix and for a couple Years also the Chevalier de Triple-Croix .

During this difficult time, the lodge was kept alive by its master of the chair Jean Pierre Delagoanère. After his professional transfer to Emmerich in 1784, he donated twelve foreign daughter lodges in the name of the Royal York, which in fact turned the Royal York into a mother lodge. Delagoanère had already been appointed Grand Master in 1773. The connection to the Grand State Lodge was never carried out internally or structurally. The Grand State Lodge even refused to send its ritual files to the Royal York.

Delagoanère bought a piece of land on Dorotheenstrasse in Berlin in 1779, on which the later grand lodge found its home. After Delagoanère's death, the court jeweler Louis Baudesson succeeded him as master of the chair of the Royal York de l'Amitié. When he died after only a short term in office, the actor Claude Étienne Le Bauld de Nans took over the management and pushed the reforms within the lodge.

The road to independence as a grand lodge

The Royal York donated numerous daughter boxes of the English constitution inside and outside of the former German Empire. By 1793, the Royal York affiliated a total of nineteen boxes, at the same time the desire to break away from the London Grand Lodge grew. During this time there was also a change in the fact that the rituals were held in German instead of in French as before; exceptions were the opening and closing of the lodge, which continued to be held in French.

King Friedrich Wilhelm II , himself not a Freemason, refused to leave the English Grand Lodge. His endeavor was that the Royal York should unite in friendship with the Grand Lodge to form the three globes and merge into it, but his plan was dropped in 1797 with his death. Only his successor to the throne, King Friedrich Wilhelm III. of Prussia , made independence possible.

At this time Ignaz Aurelius Feßler joined the Royal York and, to his own surprise, was quickly entrusted with reforming the rituals. By August 3, 1797, he revised all degrees and created a new fundamental constitution. On January 4, 1798 Feßler succeeded by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. to obtain consent to a protectorate.

On June 11, 1798, the mother lodge Royal York was divided into 4 daughter lodges in order to create the basis for a grand lodge . These lodges were: "Friedrich Wilhelm on the crowned justice", "On the triumphant truth", "Urania on immortality" and "Pythagoras on the flaming star". These were supported by the lodges in Bromberg Zum Janus , Schweidnitz Hercules and Kalisch Socrates to the 3 flames . Shortly afterwards it was also legally founded as a grand lodge under the name "Grand Lodge Royal York called for friendship" and its recognition by the other two old Prussian grand lodges. On October 20, 1798, Friedrich Wilhelm III. an edict that only allowed the three Berlin grand lodges to do Masonic work in Prussia . Four months earlier he had taken over the protectorate of the grand lodge.

Ignaz Aurelius Feßler played a key role in the transformation into a grand lodge. Feßler was a former Capuchin and priest and in 1783 became a Freemason. As early as 1792 he had switched to the "Royal York", but resigned there as early as 1802 after disputes. His short time with the Royal York was very active. He is considered the founder of the grand lodge, was assigned (deputy) grand master and formed the whole ritual system anew.

Feßler originally planned a 3-degree system based on English masonry without high degrees. Since he encountered resistance with this plan, he reformed the 4 high grades that had already been worked on into knowledge levels and added an Inner Orient to them as the highest grade.

The Inner Orient has the task of disseminating knowledge about the origins and historical development of the grand lodge systems of all times among the brothers and of making the essence of the Freemasons' Union clear to other ethical and religious societies. Everything should be kept away that is alien to the innermost essence of Freemasonry. - The Inner Orient forms the highest “scientific” department of obedience and has the duty, beyond the tasks of the Inner Orient, to promote knowledge about the peculiarities of the system of the Great Lodge Royal York for friendship, to deal with questions of ritual and doctrine and related thereto Elaborate applications to the Great Lodge for the further development of customs.

Flowering period and social commitment

The Villa Kamecke , later the Royal York Lodge, on an old engraving.

Around 1779, the Royal York bought its own box house, it was the Kameksche Landhaus in Dorotheenstrasse. A special feature of the Grand Lodge was the concept of the open cultural center . The Royal York used the building, garden and orangery for public gatherings, balls and charitable concerts.

In the 19th century, the Royal York was the grand lodge with the largest number of members of the three Prussian grand lodges. The philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte joined the Royal York around 1790 and often argued with Feßler. He held the position of grand speaker in the grand lodge.

By 1828, 25 new lodges had joined the Royal York, some of which consisted of existing lodges or were newly founded. Some of these lodges broke up again because of the different politics in the north and south of the German Reich. The lodges in Bayreuth, Fürth, Mainz and Mannheim resigned. The Royal York experienced another big increase in 1866 when the Kingdom of Hanover was annexed to Prussia. 17 lodges subsequently joined the Royal York.

Changes in the structure and the Christian principle of the Royal York

On May 22, 1840, the heir to the throne, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, became a member of the Freemasons' Union and at the same time took over the protection of the three Prussian grand lodges

to bring them closer together. When the Grand Lodge Royal York was founded in 1798, its Christian basis was already established. Thus, in the Basic Law of the Grand Lodge of 1800, the condition for a new member is that he: "is attached to any Christian religious denomination tolerated in the state".

In 1815 and 1842 it was suggested that the Christian principle should be deleted so that Jewish brothers would also be allowed to attend the temple work of the Royal York. In 1854 the Christian provision for visiting brothers was abolished, and in 1872 the Christian principle of the Royal York was completely abandoned, which also made it possible to accept Jews as full members; however, the Jewish members were not allowed to join the Inner Orient.

In 1884 Hermann Settegast was elected to the office of the assigned (deputy) grandmaster of the grand lodge, without any previous experience with offices in the lodge. This was done on the recommendation of the then Grand Master Ludwig Herrig . When Herrig died in 1889, Settegast took over the office of Grand Master of the Royal York Grand Lodge. Settegast planned an extensive reform of the grand lodge. In particular, the high grades should be abolished and membership in the Inner Orient should also be open to Jewish men. After his reform plans were unsuccessful, he resigned in 1890 and joined the Grand Lodge of Hamburg .

At the beginning of the First World War , the Grand Lodge deleted the "Royal York" from its name in protest against England's entry into the war. Between 1920 and 1930, 22 lodges were founded. The total number of members rose to 11,000 brothers in 112 lodges that were constituted in the Royal York.

Ban under National Socialism

In the course of the harassment of 1933–1935 and the ban of 1935 , the Royal York was also dissolved for friendship. Like the Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds”, with which the Great Lodge of Prussia called “To Friendship” was closely connected, it was also transformed on April 11, 1933 into the “German-Christian Order of Friendship”. Grandmaster Oskar Feistkorn informed the Prussian State Ministry of the Interior on the same day. The resolution of the grand lodge was nevertheless ordered. Even a direct intervention by Hjalmar Schacht (member of the Urania Lodge for Immortality) with Adolf Hitler did not change anything. The graduation ceremony took place on July 16, 1935.

Logenhaus, Emser Strasse, Berlin-Wilmersdorf

After the Second World War, most of the daughter lodges were located in the area of ​​the Soviet occupation zone, in the newly created area of ​​Poland and in the eastern sector of Berlin. On March 27, 1946, the first post-war meeting of former members of the Grand Lodge took place in the Ratskeller of Schöneberg Town Hall with the approval of the American military government, in which it was decided to revive the Grand Lodge. She gave herself the name "Great Lodge Royal York for Friendship". August Horneffer became the first grandmaster .

The subsidiary lodges in the western occupation zones could not join the GL RYzF in Berlin because the connection between the former Prussian grand lodges based in Berlin and West Germany had been forbidden by the Allied Control Council. The GL RYzF founded in West Berlin in 1950 together with the GL "To the Old Obligations", in which former lodges of the Grand Lodge Hamburg had united, the VGLiB, whose first Grand Master was August Horneffer.

When the "United Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Germany" (VGL) was founded on June 19, 1949, GL RYzF joined today's GL AFuAM.

On September 18, 1954, at the Großlogentag in Coburg, a "brotherly agreement" was concluded between the VGLiB and the VGL, which was confirmed in the general meetings of both organizations on September 2 and 18, 1954. This agreement was referred to in the future as the "Coburg Agreement".

The GL RYzF lodges from West Berlin joined the VGL in the so-called "Coburg Agreement", which was now called GL AFuAM. In this agreement the remaining daughter lodges were allowed to maintain their individual character and their special ritual. You still choose a "grandmaster", who is not, however, equal to the other grandmasters according to the VGLvD statutes. The establishment of the "Inner Orient" and "Inner Orient" was not an issue in the "Brotherly Agreement", but was seen by the Great Lodge Royal York as logical.

Settegast dispute

In the context of Hermann Settegast's work in the “Royal York” grand lodge, a legal dispute arose which had a major impact on Freemasonry in Prussia and throughout Germany. After Settegast had joined the Grand Lodge of Hamburg, he tried to enforce its humanitarian principles in Berlin by establishing a subsidiary lodge. According to the Royal Edict of 1798, only the three old Prussian grand lodges were allowed to work Masonic in Prussia. Settegast initially tried to get government approval, but was turned down by Interior Minister Herrfurth in 1892. Since the Grand Lodge of Hamburg saw no point in another dispute, Settegast resigned and on November 27, 1892, together with his Berlin friends, founded their own, irregular Grand Lodge under the name of the Great Masonic Lodge of Prussia, called Kaiser Friedrich zur Bundestreue . Due to the edict, the new grand lodge was banned by the police. Settegast now decided to enforce his rights in court. The path through the instances ended on April 22, 1893 at the Royal Higher Administrative Court, which suspended the old edict.

The new grand lodge developed a brisk activity and the other German grand lodges also began to establish lodges in Berlin. However, Settegast received no recognition for his grand lodge either from the old Prussian grand lodges or from the humanitarian grand lodges of the German Grand Lodge Association. Within a few years the new grand lodge had twelve daughter lodges and its own grand lodge magazine. The Settegast Grand Lodge received recognition from abroad from the Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary and the Great East of the Netherlands .

Known members


  • Karlheinz Gerlach: The Freemasons in old Prussia 1738–1806: The lodges in Berlin . Studienverlag Innsbruck 2014, ISBN 978-3-7065-5199-1
  • Eugen Lennhoff / Oskar Posner: International Freemason Lexicon . Almathea-Verlag Munich 1980, reprint from 1932, ISBN 3-85002-038-X
  • Franz August v. Etzel : History of the Great National Mother Lodge of the Prussian States named for the three worlds . Berlin 1867, digitized
  • Helmut Neuberger: Angle measure and swastika: The Freemasons and the Third Reich . Herbig Verlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7766-2222-9
  • Ferdinand Runkel: History of Freemasonry . Hobbing, Berlin, 3 vol., Reprint: Edition Lempertz, Bonn 2006, ISBN 3-933070-96-1
  • Hans-Joachim Heurer and Gidon Lustig: Festschrift for the 200th foundation day of the great Royal York Lodge for friendship and its four daughter boxes (Berlin June 24, 2008)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lane's Masonic Records, version 1.0: Lodge Royal York of the Friendship. HRI Online Publications, October 2011, accessed August 25, 2015 .
  2. ^ Heiko Hinze: Homepage Friedrich Wilhelm on the crowned justice. Friedrich Wilhelm zur krönten Gerechtigkeit eV, 2013, accessed on August 30, 2015 .
  3. ^ GStA PK, Freemasons, 5.1.4. No. 3,652,536. Lodge, May 5, 1760;
  4. Gerlach The lodges in Berlin p. 428
  5. Runkel II. P. 244
  6. v. Etzel p. 81
  7. Gerlach The lodges in Berlin p. 431
  8. Runkel II, p. 248
  9. Gerlach The lodges in Berlin p. 448
  10. Gerlach The lodges in Berlin p. 438
  11. Lennhoff / Posner p. 471
  12. Lennhoff / Posner p. 1453
  13. Lennhoff / Posner p. 1454/1455