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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 California Masonic Symposium: The Moscow Archives


The Grand Lodge of California is presenting an amazing and important program on June 3rd and 4th that nobody is really talking about. And that's a damn shame.
"In the dark days of World War II, the Nazis stormed Paris, introducing their reign of tyranny by flying a swastika from the famed Arc de Triomphe. One of their first actions was to seize the entire archives of the Grand Orient of France and ship them to Berlin.
"Similar pillages followed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg, capturing an astonishing 27,000 dossiers of Masonic history.  
"Why did they do this? Were they afraid of Freemasons? Or were they trying to discover Masonic secrets that they could use as a source of power? Then, when the war was lost, and the Russians occupied Berlin, one of the first things the Communists did was to seize those same archives and take them to Moscow. Again, why? What was in them that was so important to both the Nazis and the Communists?
"The 27,000 dossiers that have become to be known as the "Moscow archives" shed a light on the life of European lodges for more than two centuries. During this period, the continent experienced tumult and change, as society adjusted to the ideals of the Enlightenment... "
When the Soviet troops marched across Eastern Europe and rolled over Germans from their own end of the continent, virtually everything that the Russians found among the Nazi's archives and vast storehouses became isolated from the rest of the world. Freemasonry was no exception. For example, according to Czech researchers, the SS's RSHA Amt VII unit was assembling a vast library on the occult, witchcraft, esoteric, and Masonic books, eventually estimated to be in excess of 160,000 volumes. That massive collection was eventually destined to be housed in Himmler's infamous private temple for the SS elite members, Wewelsburg castle. But it never got that far.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Soviet Union, historians slowly began uncovering knowledge that was lost for 60 years. In 2001, the Moscow Archives began being returned to the West. Suddenly, the full scope of Nazism's anti-Masonic activities and destruction could be seen for the first time. In 2002, 750 crates of Masonic objects and papers stolen from occupied lodges and Grand Lodges across Europe and held by the Russian Military State Archive were delivered to the Museum of Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France in Paris. These included membership lists that were used to help round up Freemasons to be sent to concentration camps. Equally important was that more than 200 years worth of lost objects, books, and documents were at last being returned to their former owners.

This spectacular story and the discoveries (and RE-discoveries) from those boxes and archives have not been discussed very much outside of Europe. Now, a very special opportunity is taking place in California, and it's important enough that it will be presented in both San Francisco and Pasadena.

The 2017 California Masonic Symposium will present, "The Moscow Archives," and will feature two outstanding visiting scholars from France: Pierre Mollier, director of the library of the Grand Orient de France and curator of the incredible Museum of Freemasonry in Paris, and Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, Past Grand Master, grand orator and grand chancellor of the Federal Council of the Grand Loge de France. They will be joined by California's Grand Master John R. Heisner and Past Grand Masters John L. Cooper III and R. Stephen Doan.

The Symposium will be held in San Francisco at the Scottish Rite Center on June 3rd, and in Pasadena at their Scottish Rite Center on June 4th, 9AM - 3PM. Cost is $30 which includes lunch, or $15 for the Symposium only.  See the website here for information and to make your reservation.

By the way, this story hasn't ended yet. Just last March, some 13,000 books, confiscated by the SS from the library of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons and others and recently rediscovered in Oslo, were being turned over in a joint project between state libraries in Norway and Czechoslovakia. 


(Nobody tells me anything anymore. I have to pick it up on the streets from the rough crowd. If I had known earlier about this event, I would have crawled on broken glass to be there. So it goes.)

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