From time to time, we see anti-Masons attempting to 'prove' that Freemasonry is wrong because Adolph Hitler and his henchmen were fascinated by it. Their claim about Hitler's fascination is true - but it's totally and completely misleading.

Freemasons have for centuries suffered persecution because of their membership in the fraternity. Hitler's Germany was its ultimate indignity. While those of the Jewish faith endured the greatest loss of life and humanity, many descriptions of the Holocaust refer to "Jews, Gypsies, Freemasons and others" being consigned to the dreaded Concentration Camps and gas chambers.

From 1931, Reinhard Heydrich head of the Munich police political department (appointed to his position by SS leader Heinrich Himmler who was President of the Munich police and political police commander of Bavaria) had been responsible for creating an SS counter-intelligence service. The following year, he and Himmler redefined this as an ideological research-intelligence agency called the Security Service or SD. As Himmler moved into positions of greater power, the SD moved from the theoretical into the area of covert external operations including the 'Night of the Long Knives'. 

Author Michael Burleigh notes in his major work The Third Reich - A New History that the SD created surrogate public opinion and that "A 1938 report included what became routine surveys of Freemasonry, whose essentially benign activities have always been a bugbear to the paranoid left and right. It began with a disarming flourish of erudition, outlining the various lodges and national traditions. Organized Freemasonry had been smashed because of its Enlightenment legacy of 'humanity, tolerance and liberalism', and because it was a vehicle for promoting 'Jewish ideas and objectives'."

Burleigh continues:

Freemasons were allegedly active in the Party, the Reichsbank and the German railways.  Worse, low-level masons, granted an amnesty by the Führer, were abusing his magnanimity to reorganise.  Although some appeared to conform to the new dispensation, their 'almost total rejection' of the measures taken against the Jews, attributed to their 'philanthropic training and outlook', was sinister.  So were the wider connections.  Former Freemasons had many 'social relations' with Jew, 'oppositional Church circles' and 'reactionary associations' so that 'cross connections of a personal nature exist, which have been consolidated by the ideological affinity of both enemy groups'.  A museum in Nuremberg was helping to counteract the view that the apron and trowel crowd were pretty innocuous.  The SD also had its eyes on international Freemasonry, learnedly unravelling obscure doctrinal rows between the English and French masons, the progress of masonry in Brazil or Uruguay, and its repression in Hungary, Ireland and Poland.  It was worrying that most of the French cabinet were masons, not to speak of Roosevelt or the Earl of Harewood.  The anti-Nazi activities of the American masons warranted detailed attention.

Later, Burleigh speaks of Occupation and Collaboration in Europe and notes:

Freemasons were feared by right-wing, clerical France as an occultic force with sinister international English and Jewish connections - the name Rothschild served multiple functions here - and as a corrupt nexus for radical businessmen, doctors, lawyers, teachers and twenty-five of the thirty-five members of Léon Blum's Popular Front government.  In reality, the Freemasons were a more modest lot: liberal anti-clericalism and a dose of rationalist mumbo-jumbo went hand in hand with conviviality, philanthropy, and an old pals' network.  The director of the Bibliothèque national, Bernard Fay, was appointed delegate of the French government to liquidate masonic lodges', with a separate registry of France's fifty thousand Freemasons - the Exposition Maçonnique - was opened at the Petit Palais, attracting over a million visitors in Paris and when it toured the provinces, come to gawp at aprons and triangles and the revealed names of those who really ran things.

The U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has devoted a section to the Nazi persecution of Freemasonry. Those visiting the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition will find in "Technology and Persecution" how the Nazis compiled and used information on their "enemies." This segment’s text states:  

"All governments gather information about their citizens. The Nazi regime, however, used such information to track political opponents, enforce racial policies, and, ultimately, implement mass murder. As early as 1934, various government bureaus began to compile card catalogs identifying political and racial enemies of the regime, such as Freemasons, Jews, Gypsies, and ‘genetically diseased’ persons."  

On the same floor of the Museum, another segment, entitled 'Enemies of the State', uses text, artifacts, and photographs to discuss the Nazi pre-war persecution of political opponents, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), homosexuals, and Masons. Here, visitors learn about Nazi views on Freemasonry and about the Nazi belief in a "Jewish-Masonic conspiracy" which - it asserted - planned to take over the world. In order to illustrate these fears, a film monitor shows photographs of an anti-Masonic exhibition that was organized by the Nazis. In a number of popular public exhibitions, the Nazis created mock Lodge rooms complete with skeletons of lodge officers. The Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction has published an interesting article about the Museum's display about Freemasonry. It's certainly worth reading!

You can also read some of Hitler's materials linking the Jews and Freemasonry to his extermination programs. Right here is an example of one such horrid document.

For a further interesting example of government-sponsored anti-Masonic hate, we have some interesting stamps here and the sad story of how many lost their lives through a Nazi sympathizer, Bernard Fay - mentioned above, posing as a friend to Masons is here....

At this link, you'll find several more articles written by Freemasons about this topic for those interested in some in-depth research.

Another interesting article published not long ago in the respected Atlantic Monthly magazine talks about persecutions in Vichy France. You can read it online here. A second interesting article in the same magazine written by a person who led the investigation into artwork stolen by Hilter and his henchmen also notes their desire to find propaganda material against Jews and Freemasonry called "Loot for the Master Race". It's online here.

Other examples abound. The claim that Freemasonry and Hitler are intertwined is not wholly inaccurate: Masons suffered from his mass atrocities as did others!

Book citations from "The Third Reich - a new history" by Michael Burleigh. Hill & Wang, New York. 2000. ISBN 0-8090-0325-1.

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