by W. Bro. A Israel, Master

Most of us are not in the Craft very long when we start to become
aware of the large number of anti masonic statements which are
constantly circulating. These statements invariably have two things
in common (1) they come from somebody who has little or no real
knowledge of, or exposure to, the Craft and its workings, and (2)
they are always attributed to 'a reliable source' and someone who
'really knows'. My own personal experiences began shortly after my
initiation when l was congratulated by a non masonic employee, who at
the same time informed me that he had it from 'a very reliable
source' that it was "impossible to get into business in Taupo unless
you are a Freemason'. The English wife of a good friend told me that
after an accident sustained whilst driving in England, she had been
charged with a motoring offense and, though innocent, had been
convicted because the driver of the other vehicle was a Freemason and
the Magistrate was one also". Doubtless all members who have belonged
to the Craft for any length of time will have had similar

These examples, however, are mere word of mouth 'hearsay', which in
many cases evoke only amusement from most of their listeners, both
within and outside the Craft. Of a far more serious nature are anti
masonic statements which are given the stamp of authenticity because
they are made by those who hold responsible positions. These
statements are reported in otherwise reputable news media, which the
non discerning public does not normally question. It must be
acknowledged that, to the majority of the public, news media
statements in either printed or broadcast form are accepted without
question and recapitulated with the thought "it must be true, I read
it in the paper or heard it on TV".

In these days of mass communication, where news media are reaching a
public of unprecedented size, when sensationalism and the marketing of
the product is of greater importance than the veracity of the content
and where, to paraphrase an oft quoted statement "only the facts have
been changed to make a good story", we are facing a growing flood of
anti masonic propaganda. There are few ills in our world today, the
cause of which, masonic detractors do not lay at the door of the

In 1978, when I was in the chair of Lodge Kaimanawa, I attended an
evangelist meeting at Tokoroa in the company of my deputy master,
W.Bro. Stan McCash, and the late W. Bro. Jack Mathews, who at that
time was Master of Lodge Tokoroa. A 'hell fire and brimstone'
preacher had promised to reveal the hidden evils of Freemasonry. We
were bitterly disappointed, and about the only concrete fact with
which we were enlightened, was his unequivocal statement that
Freemasons controlled world economics and more particularly the United
States Treasury. As sole proof thereof, he offered the example of the
US one dollar bill, on the back of which is depicted both sides of
the Great Seal of the United States. The obverse of this seal is, of
course, the familiar bald eagle with out stretched wings, arrows in
one claw and olive branch in the other. The reverse is less well known
and the only place that this appears is on the back of the one dollar
bill. It depicts an unfinished pyramid with 13 rows of stones
(portraying the Union) being watched over by the all seeing eye of
God, which is contained within a triangle . This symbol, he assured
us, was proof positive of Masonic control of the US monetary system.

Early this year, we were treated to a newspaper report of a recently
published book by Stephen Knight which claims to document and prove
the subversive activities and the potential dangers of the Craft.
This was featured in the Wellington Evening Post under the arresting
headline "Freemasonry Used for Soviet Spying Author" and in the
Auckland Star under the equally eye catching, "Freemasonry Claimed KGB

In the column 'Nutshells' in the N.Z. Herald there appeared a quote
from a statement made by the lranian Minister of Islamic Guidance,
Ayatolla Doa'i, that "The press is the most dangerous arm in the
contemporary world. Freedom of the press is an invention of Jews,
Freemasons and colonialists and a means of sowing dissension among the

Much of this type of anti masonic propaganda bears a similar hallmark,
the fixation of the concept that Freemasonry is, in fact a worldwide
conspiracy, bent on total behind the scenes control for its own ends.

Whence comes this insidious myth, this portrayal of Freemasonry as a
gigantic octopus moving with unseen malevolence through the corridors
of power, manipulating and scheming and forever growing?

For the answer to this question, we must go back to the late 18th
century. In 1797, a French Jesuit, the Abbe Barruel, wrote in his
'Memoire pour servir a l'histoire du Jac obinisme' (which was a
monumental opus of five volumes) that the French Revolution was the
carefully orchestrated fulfillment of an ancient conspiracy of what
he considered, the most secret of all secret societies. Barruel
claimed that the medieval Order of Templars, a surviving relic of the
Crusades, had not really been successfully abolished by Papal Decree
in 1312 but had survived as a clandestine organization preaching
unrestricted liberty to all people, dedicated to the overthrow of all
monarchies and the Papacy, and to the foundation of a world republic
controlled by the Templars themselves. He further postulated that
since that time, it had, in the implementation of that policy, been
responsible for a large number of political assassinations and in the
18th century had taken over control of the Order of Freemasons. It
had, according to Barruel, established in 1763 a secret literary
academy, among whose members were such freethinking liberals as
Turgot, Voltaire and Robespiene. These men, meeting in the house of
Baron d'Holbach, published tracta and pamphlets which had, he claimed,
resulted in the deterioration of morality and religion among the
French. It had furthermore, from 1776, created a gigantic
revolutionary organization involving half a million Frenchmen who were
the Jacobins of the revolution. At the centre of the conspiracy were
the Bavarian 'Illuminati' led by Adam Weishaupt, whom Barruel
describes as "enemies of the human race, sons of Satan" . All the
Freemasons and Jacobins in France, he claimed, already owed complete
blind obedience to that small band of Germans who, he felt, would,
unless stopped, completely control t he world.

Barruel's claim that the French Revolution was the result of a
conspiracy dating back to the 14th century, is so fanciful as to be
unworthy of any effort of rebuttal. As regards that little known
German group called the 'llluminati' they were in fact rivals of the
Freemasons and had been dissolved in 1786 (3 years prior to the
French Revolution.) He had greatly over simplified and exaggerated the
role of the Freemasons. Without doubt they were numbered amongst
those whose concern for humanitarian reform assisted in creating the
climate leading to the Revolution. They had already contributed to the
abolition of witchcraft trials and of judicial torture. On the other
hand, most French Freemasons were monarchist (Louis XVI and his
brothers were all Freemasons) and during the mass executions which
followed the Revolution, Freemasons were guillotined by the hundred
and their Order, the Grand Orient was suppressed.

Barruel's work, in its original uninspiring and clearly erroneous form
would doubtless not have long survived the death of its author in
1820 and would have vanished into richly merited obscurity. It was
prevented from so doing by the mischance which associated it with
another equally scurrilous (and equally false) defamatory fabrication
of a sick mind. I refer to the infamous "Protocols of the Elders of
Zion". The scope and time available for this paper simply does not
permit a detailed discussion of the origins and evolution of this work
In brief, they consist of a rabidly antisemitic document purporting to
be the blueprint for a Jewish plot to take over the world.

The earliest traceable source of this myth is contained in a letter
received by Barruel from Florence in 1806. This was ostensibly written
by an army officer, one J. B. Simonini, of whom nothing else is known
and with whom even Barruel himself failed to establish contact. This
letter appears to be the first in a line of antisemitic forgeries
which were to culminate in the 'Protocols'. In it the author
commences by first congratulating Barruel on having "unmasked the
hellish sects which are preparing the way for the Antichrist" and then
goes on to draw Barrue its attention to the "Judaic wealth and the
protection it enjoys in almost all European countries''. The
mysterious Simonini permits his imagination to run riot. He claims to
have penetrated to the centre of a Jewish conspiracy and to have
discovered, that amongst other things the founder s of Freemasonry and
of the 'lluminati' were both Jews (although the founders of both are
known and neither was founded by Jews), that in Italy alone, over 800
ecclesiastics were Jews and ranked among their number were bishops and
cardinals and would shortly include a pope! All of this is, of course,
self evidently spurious. At the time of the Simonini letter, many
lodges were still practicing a ritual highly Christian in character
and many others were still reluctant to accept Jewish members. Jews
or persons of Jewish descent have never occupied a disproportionate
place in Freemasonry. These are established facts, but nevertheless,
the basis of the myth of the Judaeo Masonic conspiracy was born.
Barruel had shown, at least to his own satisfaction, that the French
Revolution was the result of a conspiracy of Freemasons. The
increasing freedom from discrimination against religious minorities
which followed the Revolution, was clearly to the advantage of the
Jews. No further evidence was required to demonstrate to these
somewhat less than unbiased critics, that Freemasons and Jews were
closely associated in a worldwide Judaeo Masonic conspiracy.

The twisted logic of the combination of Barruel's imagination and the
Simonini letter aroused little public interest in the first half of
the 19th century until in the 1860s Hermann Goedsche, a discredited
former employee of the Prussian postal service, who had been sacked
for forgery, commenced writing novels under the pseudonym of Sir John
Retcliffe. In one of these novels 'Biarritz', an eerie scene in the
macabre style of Edgar Allen Poe is recounted . Set in a Jewish
cemetery in Prague, the scene portrays how at midnight on the Feast of
Tabernacles, representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel hold
conversation with the Satanic presence emanating from a tomb. These
representatives report on the progress they have made towards
fulfillment of the aims of their conspiracy for world domination. The
novel 'Biarritz' was published in 1868, in the antisemitic climate
existing in Germany after a partial emancipation of the Jews. This is
merely the start of the saga. At this point we are discussing a novel,
a work of fiction only. Soon however, this clearly fictional chapter,
taken out of the framework of the novel begins to turn into a forged

Russian anti semites published the relevant chapter in 1872 in St
Petersburg in the form of a pamphlet, which, although bearing the
comment that it was a work of fiction, stated that it had a basis in
fact! In 1876, it appeared in a similar publication in Moscow under th
e title 'In the Jewish Cemetery in Czech Prague (the Jews, sovereigns
of the World)'. In 1880, a second edition was issued and similar
items appeared in Odessa and Prague. In 1881, it arrived in France,
printed in Le Contemporian. At this point no reference is made to it
being a work of fiction, it has now become established fact!! All the
speeches supposedly made by the twelve representatives in the
cemetery in Prague were combined into a single speech, ostensibly made
by a chief rabbi to a secret meeting of Jews. The authenticity of the
speech is vouched for by an imaginary English diplomat (after all,
who would dare doubt the word of an Englishman?), and indeed, is
claimed as an extract from his projected book. Goedsche had originally
written his novel ( from which this work had been extracted) under the
pseudonym of Sir John Retcliffe, perhaps not surprisingly the
imaginary English diplomat is given the name Sir John Readclif. When,
in 1896, Francois Bournand printed the so called speech in 'Les Juifs
et nos contemporains, it is attributed to Chief Rabbi John Readclif!

Further editions followed and found fertile ground in the
superstitiously gullible minds of a populace not far removed from a
generally accepted belief in witchcraft werewolves and sorcery. Its
many translations spread throughout Europe under a variety of titles,
including one which appeared in 1906 with the title Extracts from the
Protocol of the Freemasons.

Although the Protocols themselves, in the standard version, are only
twenty four in number and contain only passing reference to
Freemasonry, they are invariably published wi th a commentary proving
and justifying their veracity. (The two English editions each comprise
about 100 small pages.) These Freemasonic references, albeit small,
when conjoined in the reader's mind by the anti masonic
pronouncements included in the commentaries, are sufficient to create
the implication of a great Judaeo Masonic conspiracy.

One such example will suffice, where Meurin, in his version entitled
'La Franc Maconnerie', Synagogue de Satan said, "Everything in
Freemasonry is fundamentally Jewish, exclusively Jewish, passionately
Jewish from the beginning to the end". Later in the same publication,
he says, "The fact that all revolutions are made in the depths of the
Masonic back lodges would be inexplicable, if we did not know that the
Ministries of all countries are in the hands of Freemasons who, in
the last analysis, are controlled by Jews". Meurin has further 'facts'
to reveal about these 'back lodges'. They consist of Freemasons and
Jews of the 33rd degree. The Protocols themselves end with the words
"Signed by the Representatives of Zion of the 33rd degree'. This
allusion to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish rite is clear. This
particular Freemasonic system, which originated in the USA in 1801 and
thence spread with great rapidity to many countries, has, as its
highest rank, the title of Sovereign Grand Inspector General which
is, in fact the 33rd degree of that order of Freemasonry.

We, as citizens of a liberal democracy which has for some generations
prided it self on the quality and universality of its educational
system, are hard put to comprehend the impact these doctrines could
have on superstitious, largely illiterate populations. It must be
emphasized that these publications were not merely a solitary outburst
by a few sensation seeking individuals. They were published in
literally hundreds of editions, translated into scores of languages:
Russian, German, Polish, French, Rumanian, Czech, Yugoslav, Greek,
Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and, of course,
English, to name a few. A generation ago, one authority, Henry Rollin,
author of "L'Apocalypse de notre Temps" reckoned that the Protocols of
the Elders of Zion, in all its various forms, was probably the most
widely distributed book in the world after the V.S.L. It has served
as the justification of most of the anti semitic and anti masonic
steps taken by totalitarian governments in the last 150 or so years,
culminating, of course, in the well documented excesses of one Adolf
Hitler towards both Freemasons and Jews.

The evil potential of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion should never
be under estimated.