Freemasons: Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar

Returned Nazi loot: Zeitschrift für Freimauerei (1827/ 28) | © BSB
Returned Nazi loot: Zeitschrift für Freimauerei (1827/ 28) | © BSB
Returned Nazi loot: Heinrich Kraft, Die Stellung der französischen Freimaurerei und die Stellung der deutschen zu derselben, 1905 | © BSB
Returned Nazi loot: Heinrich Kraft, Die Stellung der französischen Freimaurerei und die Stellung der deutschen zu derselben, 1905 | © BSB

The Freemasons were among the people persecuted by the Nazi regime for ideological reasons. The fundamental principles of freemasonry, tolerance and humanity, could not be reconciled with the tenets of National Socialism. The international orientation of freemasonry did not agree either with National Socialist thought. In 1933, only a few weeks after Adolf Hitler's seizure of power a first series of riots against the Freemasons happened in Germany. They attempted to intimidate the brethren and to convince the society to dissolve their lodges.

Freemasons – United Grand Lodges of Germany

In Munich, ten Masonic lodges existed at the time with a brotherhood of over 800 members. Under pressure by the Nazi regime, they were all dissolved in 1933. One of them was the "Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar" (lodge of the rising sun on the Isar), which had been founded on 23 March 1902 as the third lodge in Munich and which counted 80 brothers at the time of its dissolution. In 1935, the Nazi regime banned freemasonry completely.

The "Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar" owned a collection of books, which the liquidator appointed by the legal courts, a Munich lawyer, offered the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek for sale on 14 June 1933. The acquisitions department expressed its interest and two months later received 186 books and journals of mostly Masonic and philosophical content. The library paid for these only 65 reichsmarks. In the following weeks and months, the then members of staff at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek incorporated the volumes into their collections.

Restitution to the Freemasons, 8 November 2013, from left to right: Klaus Kastin (Altdistriktmeister); Susanne Wanninger (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek); Rolf Griebel (Director General, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek); Stephan Kellner (Head of the division Bavarica, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) | © BSB
Restitution to the Freemasons, 8 November 2013, from left to right: Klaus Kastin (Altdistriktmeister); Susanne Wanninger (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek); Rolf Griebel (Director General, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek); Stephan Kellner (Head of the division Bavarica, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) | © BSB

The working group "NS-Raubgutforschung" managed to identify 136 titles in 121 volumes as the former property of the "Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar". The point of departure for their research was the "Verzeichnis der aus der Bibliothek der Loge 'zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar' im August 1933 der B. Staatsbibliothek einverleibten 186 Bände" (i.e. the inventory of 186 books from the lodge’s library, which had been acquired by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek). It had been preserved among the records of the Generaldirektion der Bayerischen Staatlichen Bibliotheken (Directorate General of the Bavarian State Libraries) together with the correspondence with the liquidator. As later became apparent, the majority of the books and journals was marked by a bookplate with the inscription: "Eigentum der Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar" (property of the "Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar"). Many books also still bore the shelf mark labels issued by the lodge. They simply had been renumbered.

The Munich Freemasons’ lodge "Zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar" was not refounded after 1945. Therefore, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek turned to the District Bavaria of the "Großloge der Alten Freien und Angenommenen Maurer von Deutschland" (Grand Lodge of the Old Free and Adopted Masons of Germany) to negotiate the restitution of the Masonic book collection. As their representative, the Altdistriktmeister Klaus Kastin received the 136 titles in 121 volumes from Director General Rolf Griebel on 8 November 2013. The district subsequently handed over the lodge's library to the Deutsches Freimaurermuseum (German Masonic Museum) in Bayreuth.

The returned volumes continue to be displayed in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue. A commentary regarding their provenance and restitution has been added, which may be consulted under the heading "More title information". They can be found by entering "BSB-Provenienz: Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar" into the "Basic search" of the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue. Since the District Bavaria of the "Großloge der Alten Freien und Angenommenen Maurer von Deutschland" agreed to the digitization of the volumes, it is possible to access their full text in many cases. Excluded are publications still under copyright.

BSB-Provenienz: Loge zum aufgehenden Licht an der Isar  (display in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue)

Deutsches Freimaurermuseum  (German Masonic Museum)

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