An introduction to the VEREINIGTE GROSSLOGEN von Deutschland / UNITED GRAND LODGES of Germany
Freemasonry set foot in Germany in 1737, in a piece of land that we now understand as a patchwork pattern of individual states, which is the reason why masonic organisations in Germany developed individually.
Three Grand Lodges were founded in the biggest part of Germany, Prussia. They were later called the old-Prussian Grand Lodges:
Die Grand National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ (founded 1740, the first Grand Lodge and still exists today), the Grand Land Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany (founded 1770) and the Lodge Royal York of the Friendship.
After 1893 other German Grand Lodges started founding own lodges in Prussia, for example the Grand Lodge of Hamburg. The Grand Land Lodge of Saxony arose in Saxony.
The Bavarian Grand Lodge in Bayreuth was called Grand Lodge ‘To the Sun’.
The idea of merging all German Grand Lodges came up as early as 1800. In the year 1877 the term ‘United Grand Lodges of Germany’ emerged – ‘Vereinigte Großlogen von Deutschland’ in German.
500 Lodges in Germany
Still, in the nineteenth century, all endeavours of agreement failed due to traditional particularism. After 1933, German Freemasonry, which was divided into ten independent Grand Lodges, was destroyed.
After the war ended in 1945, some masonic lodges were able to rebuild themselves – only in Berlin and Western Germany.
In the zones occupied by the Soviet Union and later in the GDR a revival of Freemasonry was impossible.
On June 19, 1949 in Western Germany, the 174 lodges organised under the German Grand Lodges were unified to form the ‘United Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Germany’ (today called the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Germany).
The Grand Land Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany and the Grand National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ continued in their old traditions.
It took years of constant efforts and the help of several foreign lodges, i.e. The United Grand Lodge of England, to find the agreement that marked the foundation of the VGLvD on April 27, 1958.
It was the beginning of a construction unique to Freemasonry; unique in the sense that all of the five Grand Lodges who signed the agreement only had to renounce two of their sovereignty rights: the representation of all German Freemasons in foreign masonic organisations and towards the profane world.
The Great National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ and the Provincial Grand Lodges of the British and American-Canadian Freemasons joined the agreement in 1970 as independent Grand Lodges.
The new national order of Freemasonry in German soon gained recognition of most foreign Grand Lodges.
Today they are in a mutual relationship of acknowledgement with around 180 Grand Lodges all over the world.
The United Grand Lodges of Germany were able to significantly contribute to the development of Freemasonry in Eastern Europe.
In the year 1997 today’s United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria (VGLvBG) was founded, followed by the Grand Lodges Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Lithuania in 2002 and Latvia in 2003, all with the help of the VGLvD.
Additionally, there were the new foundations in Lithuania, Serbia (RGLvSRB – former GLvYugoslawia), Montenegro (in cooperation with the Grand Lodge of Austria GLvÖ, the Great Orient of Italy GOI and the Grand Lodge of Serbia RGLvSRB) as well as in Slovakia (in cooperation with the GLvCR and GLvÖ) and the regular national Grand Lodge of Monaco (in cooperation with the UGLoE and the GNLF in 2010).
All grand lodges of German Freemasonry
There are more than 16,500 German Freemasons organized in five grand lodges. In total, there are around 500 regional St. John’s lodges among these five grand lodges.
Here you will find links and contact options for the five member grand lodges of the VGLvD.
Grand Lodge of the Old Free and Accepted Masons of Germany, with almost 10,000 members, is the German grand lodge with the largest number of members.
Its members stand in the tradition of humanism and the Enlightenment and are committed to human dignity, freedom and self-determination.
It unites spiritually and humanly open-minded men of different ideological, religious and political convictions.
It is important to understand the Freemasons’ Union as a unity of fundamental idea, unifying community and symbolic expressiveness; this is what makes it special compared to all other associations with related objectives.
Old Free and Accepted Masons of Germany (GL AFuAMvD)
source: freimaurerei.de (Translastion)
Great State Lodge of Freemasons of Germany eV – Freemason Order, founded in 1770.
In today’s time, when there is a certain lack of prospects, in which the question of particular values is gaining in importance, Freemasonry, with its content, can offer orientation and direction.
The way and destination are best described as follows: “Freemasonry makes a good person even better.”
Dealing with the Freemasonry of our type of teaching, dealing with its content in relation to oneself, gives us many starting points and opportunities to assess, question and change our own behaviour.
Despite this reference to oneself, a Freemason wants to be open to the worries and needs of others.
Not putting your own advantages in the foreground, but seeing the common whole and yourself as part of it is a way of acting that we practice and cultivate in our brotherhood with the help of rituals and symbols.
Our teaching goal is the continuous work on ourselves, the application of symbolism to our own life, it is a striving for “light and truth”.
source: freimaurerorden.de (Translation)
The Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds”
At the behest of Frederick the Great, shortly after his accession to the throne, the Great National Mother Lodge “To the Three Worlds” was founded.
In a greeting to the 250th anniversary of the Grand National Mother Lodge, Dr. Louis Ferdinand von Hohenzollern that Frederick the Great added freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and benevolence – being human – to the principles of tolerance.
These concepts still form the foundation of Freemasonry today; they are freemasonry par excellence.
You are the force that carries the idea of Freemasonry into the world and lets the brotherhood work unswervingly on the “temple of humanity”, without religious, social and ideological constraints.
It is the reasons that make men work on themselves, for and in society.
It is the terms that make our covenant in its diversity alive and worth living in at this time.
American Canadian Grand Lodge
As a fraternal organization, Freemasonry unites men of good character who, though of different religious, ethnic or social backgrounds, believe in the brotherhood of mankind under the fatherhood of God.
In the present time, in which a certain lack of perspective prevails, Freemasonry offers the path and goal which is aptly described thus: “Freemasonry makes a good person better.”
In the tradition of enlightenment and humanism, we men of different religious, political and ideological convictions – want to make an attempt to make the world and the society in which we live a more humane and better one.
Freemasonry is the world’s oldest and largest Fraternity. Its history and tradition date to antiquity. Its singular purpose is to make good men better.
Its bonds of friendship, compassion and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military and religious conflicts through the centuries.
Freemasonry is neither a forum nor a place for worship. Instead, it is a friend of all religions which are based on the belief in one God.
Freemasons are respectable citizens who are taught to conform to the moral laws of society and to abide by the laws of the government under which they live.
They are men of charity and good works. They remain unchallenged as “the world’s greatest philanthropy!”
source: pub.acgl.eu (English)
The Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany
British Freemasons have been in Germany for more than 50 years.
The first lodge, New Absalom Lodge was established as long ago as 30th March 1957 in Düsseldorf. This Lodge was consecrated as part of the United Grand Lodges of Germany but soon afterward “A Provincial Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany” was founded.
In 1980, the current Grand Lodge of British Freemasons in Germany (GLBFG) was created.
Members are all proud to be German Masons and the GLBFG is part of the wider United Grand Lodges of Germany.
Although they are German Masons, they are a truly International Grand Lodge and have members from all four corners of the globe making up our ranks.
Currently, 18 Lodges within the Grand Lodge located all over Germany – from Hamburg in the North, Berlin in the East, Düsseldorf in the West and Munich in the South.
The main concentration of Lodges is North West Germany as a consequence of the British Forces presence in post-war Germany.
New Grand Master of the United Grand Lodges of Germany
On 20th November 2021, at the electoral convention of the United Grand Lodges in Berlin, Michael Volkwein was elected as the new Grand Master of the United Grand Lodges of Germany.
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) traditionally recognizes only one grand lodge per country . In Germany, however, there were several grand lodges that have come together to form an umbrella organization, the United Grand Lodges of Germany, and thus enjoy international recognition.
This is a special status, the importance of which the new Grand Master particularly pointed out in his introduction. He explained that “in international comparison, German Freemasonry has a unique form of organization that guarantees Masonic unity in diversity” and further pointed to the diversity of rituals, diversity of sensations and diversity of knowledge.
Michael Volkwein, born in 1961, married, insurance broker and restaurateur, is a member of the Kassel lodge “Goethe zur Bruderliebe “, of which he was master of the chair from 2011 to 2015. From 2018 to 2021 he was District Master of the District of Hesse / Thuringia and has been a member of the Senate of the United Grand Lodges of Germany since 2016.
He attaches great importance to Masonic research. He also wants to campaign for Masonic art in all its forms, for example the artists’ association “Pegasus”, but also the abundance of artists of all branches who, as brothers, draw important inspiration from Freemasonry.
The discourse on the future of Freemasonry, which he would like to lead together with the grandmasters of the five connected grand lodges, is particularly close to his heart.
Times change. What does not change are our brand core, our recognized traditions, our customs, our values and principles. The ‘opening of Freemasonry’ is discussed again and again.
This is then named as one of the essential topics for public relations. Yes, I am in favor of an objective public display of Freemasonry. Yes, we have to get out of the corner of conspiracy theories.
But opening cannot mean private. to make the downright intimate atmosphere of a temple work public. We have to keep this personal Masonic core to ourselves.
Michael Volkwein sees future issues, public relations, new media, transparency and information as important tasks that he wants to discuss with the German recognized grand lodges, but also with the women’s grand lodge.
In doing so, he attaches importance to the statement that the sovereignty of the member grand lodges laid down in the Magna Charta should not be affected.
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