Prof. Ph.D. Tadeusz Cegielski, University of Warsaw Past Grand Master, National Grand Lodge of Poland Romantic tradition & “liberum conspiro” Numerous initiations of Poles to lodges in France, England, Germany, and especially in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century had a different purpose than those undertaken in the previous century. The intention of social and political activists of different orientations was to use contacts obtained in the lodges for the Polish cause – the rebuilding of the independent Polish state. Thanks to the people initiated in the decade preceding the outbreak of World War I, Polish Freemasonry could be reborn – along with the Republic of Poland – in the years 1918-1924. Some participants of those events believed that  Freemasonry played a fundamental role in the reconstruction of Polish statehood. This view, however, very much resembles the negative of the anti-masonic cliché: ‘everything that is bad, is the Freemasons doing’. So, it is better to talk about the participation of the Freemasons in the reconstruction of the state than about the fundamental influence of Freemasonry on the course of the historical process. Around 1910, the Polish Freemasons began working to unite the independence movement and established contacts with the surroundings of Józef Piłsudski. This moment marks the beginning of the  symbiosis of the Freemasonry with Piłsudski’s supporters, which lasted for several years, the relationship maintained for as long as it could be beneficial for the future ruling class. During World War I, “brothers in aprons” undertook the issue of rebuilding the Polish state not only in the bosom of the Entente, but also in the Central Powers. The favourable situation in the last case, was the initiation of a group of Poles into the German field lodges. The reactivation of lodges in the years 1910 – 1912 in the conditions of the struggle for independence and the necessary conspiracy had also – as we shall see – negative consequences. It might seem that the circumstances of the creation of the first temples in Warsaw – “Wyzwolenie” (“Liberation”) and “Odrodzenie” (“Rebirth”) – and the pro-independence character of the lodges, and especially the fact that their creators had real merits for the reconstruction of the state, should work in favour of the Order. However, it is not the number of members, which in practice did not exceed 300-500 in a given period, but the social position of this group, positions occupied in the state that give an idea of the importance of inter-war Polish Freemasonry. Among the brethren, we find 16 generals and half a hundred senior officers; almost all of them are people from the immediate vicinity of Marshal Piłsudski, as well as 33 ministers and prime ministers. It includes such prominent people as Colonel Walery Sławek (1879-1939), future marshal Edward ŚmigłyRydz (1886-1941), Colonel Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski (1881-1942) Colonel Adam Koc (18911969), or General Kordian Zamorski (1890-1983). The environment of the Polish Military Organization (POW) and legionnaires of Józef Piłsudski was – along with other pro-independence groups – an emanation of the social class that has been functioning since the nineteenth century as the “government of souls” in Poland – the intelligentsia. None of the future colonels and generals were professional soldiers; their first officers’ skills were gained during the war under the command of Józef Piłsudski; they completed their military education at home or abroad only after the end of the war. They were doctors, lawyers, engineers, and artists. The latter are graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, like generals Śmigły-Rydz and Kordian Zamorski or students of music schools – such as Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski (1885-1944). Many dabbled with a pen in; not only journalism and punditry, but also poetry – like colonel Wieniawa – or prose – like Strug and Kaden-Bandrowski. The war ripped these people away from their newly acquired professions and qualifications; what is equally important, their participation in the Freemasonry does not seem at all incidental – in contrast to political careers, which they did not plan at least until 1925, when they joined the pro-Piłsudski conspiracy. The union of this intellectual political elite with Freemasonry has in no way helped the Polish branch of the “Royal Art.” The first reason for that was on the side of the Order. If we accept – as do some apologists of Freemasonry (in their number, Wojciech Giełżyński (1930-2015), son of Witold (1886-1966), an outstanding Freemason of the inter-war period) – that Freemasonry was the godmother of the Second Polish Republic, then neither the Grand National Lodge and other obediences operating in Poland have not been able to draw propaganda benefits from this situation. It seems that they have not made any attempt to make this happen. The second reason was related to the political evolution of Pilsudski’s ruling camp. The turn of Sanation to the right, as well as the inflow of numerous, less valuable, opportunistic elements, unavoidable in the situation of the ruling party, made real merit for the motherland in the years before and during the war not only lose its value but could even turn it into an obstacle in the career and public life. The identical mechanism of the triumph of the heroes of the “third rank” and common careerists, people previously unrelated to politics, also appeared after 1989. At the same time, the distance that Piłsudski’s people set between themselves and their own masonic past had to put into question the real or imagined pro-independence actions of the “Royal Art”. In the Second Polish Republic, the people who formed the Freemasonry’s foundations were “activists” of the war period, recently linked to the Polish Socialist Party, PPS, on whom the history played a trick: it brought victory and ordered them to rule the Republic. Their motto was ‘liberum conspiro’ – everything that is great and good for the Homeland is born in the shadow, away from the eyes of the enemy and always envious and dissatisfied compatriots. This conviction that work for the Fatherland can only be undertaken under the secret organization, the generation born in the last quarter of the 19th century has taken from the still living romantic tradition. Acting in their youth in the socialist Polish Combat Organization, glorified by the acts of revolutionary terror against the Russian authorities, they confirmed this fate by deed. After regaining independence, this generation shared Piłsudski’s growing criticism of political parties and the system of parliamentary democracy. The activities in the semi-covert and not legalized Grand National Lodge of Poland were treated as a natural extension of the conspiratorial activity of the time of partitions. An additional argument in favour of the Freemasonry, and therefore – in the sense of the environment – secret form of activity, were the number and strength of its ideological opponent: nationalist and clericalist circles. It all began on the Grand Orient of France Historical research undertaken in 2016-2018 as part of the National Project for the Development of
Humanities (NPRH) entitled “Polish culture in the face of western esoteric philosophy in 1890 – 1939” (including in the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England, Grand Orient de Belgique (GOdB) and Grand Orient de France), shed a lot of light on the first years of the renewed presence of the lodges in the “Vistula Valley.” They confirmed previous hypotheses about the role that the “Les Rénovateurs” lodge in Clichy-la-Garenne (locality in the Ile-de-France region, today in the Paris agglomeration) operating under the auspices of the Grand Orient of France, played since the end of 1909 in the establishment of the first masonic institutions in the Russian Partition. These were: “Liberation” established in Warsaw in June 1910, in the same year, also in Warsaw, “Rebirth” and the “Free Tillers” lodge in Lublin (before 1912). In Kalisz the “Świt” (“Dawn”) was constituted, and (before 1914) the lodge “Litwa” (“Lithuania”) in Vilnius and a lodge in St. Petersburg (perhaps called “Orzeł Biały” (“White Eagle”), as its predecessor in the nineteenth century). They all adopted the 7-degree French Rite of the Grand Orient of France, but as indicated not only by the example of the aforementioned “Free Tillers”, the inexperience and security reasons made the ritual side to be kept to a minimum. All the institutions were operating in a deep conspiracy so effective that the Tsarist police did not receive information about the personal details of the brethren. The quick constitution of up to five lodges in the Congress Poland (Kingdom of Poland) was possible thanks to earlier initiations of Poles to GOdF. The avant-garde was formed in this respect, probably in the spring of 1909, by the writer Tadeusz Gałecki (1971-1937), soon known as Andrzej Strug, and in the masonic world as Stanisław Borszowski, and Stanisław Posner (1868-1930) – both PPS activists and people close to Piłsudski. The latter also received a proposal for admission to the GOdF, but according to a consistent testimony of the witnesses, he refused to depend on the factor stronger than himself. This fear would not leave the future marshal until the end of his life and would make him distance himself from Freemasonry, which did not mean that he would fight the movement of the symbolic trowel. At least until he took power in the coup of May 1926, he tried to use the influence of his subordinates who belonged to the Freemasonry. The Paris-based “Les Rénovateurs” lodge in de Clichy-la-Garenne (currently “Les Précurseurs”) adopted at the end of 1909 a group of well-known social activists from Warsaw, all of whom held strong pro-independence views: physicians Rafał Radziwiłłowicz and Antoni Eryk Natanson, Eng.. Zygmunt Chmielewski, philosopher and historian Władysław Kozłowski, accountant Stanisław Osiecki, journalist Maksymilian Malinowski; the last two were connected with the people’s movement. The attorney Stanisław Patek and economist Alojzy Wierzchleyski soon joined this group. The selection of the “Les Rénovateurs” lodge by the aforementioned, or the “La France socialiste” lodge (socialist France, also GOdF) by another leftist activist of the PPS, then the KPP, Jan Hempel (1877-1937), was not accidental. Within the obedience of leftist socialist traditions, they were on the left, radically republican side of the political spectrum – or syndicalist-anarchist, as in the case of “Socialist France.” The “Les Rénovateurs” Lodge was considered the cradle of the left; together with the tradition of the Paris Commune, she kept the memory of Polish patriotsrevolutionaries fighting for “freedom yours and ours.” Probably that is why she was willing to engage in the Polish issue to a greater extent than the Paris GOdF headquarters. The first phase of the Order’s reconstruction in Poland ends in 1916; the masonic community then suffered political divisions and conflicts that were shared by the entire society. With whom to stick: with the pro-independence camp of Józef Piłsudski, who relied on the Central Powers, Germany and Austria, or rather to follow the voice of the Catholic right and national democracy, which was always close to Russia – and so on the side of the Entente, the coalition of England, France, Italy and Russia? The problem was that until the fall of the Kerensky government in Russia on October 26 / November 8, 1917, she did not want to declare the fate of Poland, treating it as an internal problem of the eastern ally. If we agree with the fact that rue Cadet’s influence in Poland had disappeared since the end of the war, apparently the main cause of this had to be on the French side, regardless of internal divisions in the lodges. The historian is forced to seek answers to important questions: why in the period just before the end of the First World War the French obedience lost interest in the project of establishing her own daughter grand lodge in Poland? Or to check the alternative hypothesis whether such a project existed at all, and the fact of accepting a group of Poles, representatives of the left, to the “Les Renovateurs” lodge was not the result of a grassroots initiative of the officers of this lodge known for its leftist orientation, almost an incubator of French socialism. And whether, as some Polish historians believed, “Les Renovateurs” was really to become the beginning of the Freemasonry of the Grand Orient rite on the Vistula? The official documents of the GOdF kept at rue Cadet and reviewed by me in the spring of this year brought only a partial answer to these questions. In fact, Polish affairs were at the centre of interest of the French obedience at the end of the war, as well as in the era of the Peace Conference in Versailles. A certain role in urging the GOdF leaders to engage in the Polish cause was to be played by Stanisław Patek, future minister of foreign affairs, at that time (in June 1915), Piłsudski’s Freemason-Emissary in Paris and London – which is detailed in the lecture by brother Jerzy Gutkowski. In 1918, Patek  established a personal contact with the Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau, who spoke at the conference about an independent and strong Poland, as needed by France and Europe. On December 20, 1918, a memorandum on Poland, made in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Quai d’Orsay, made a clear statement: “France’s security requires the presence of a strong power at the eastern borders of Germany” and “Poland is now a barrier between Bolshevism and revolution. ” In the same vein, in March 1919, the lodges of the Paris region of GOdF declared: La Pologne, Barrière de l’Orient – Poland constituted a barrier against Bolshevism in the East – and also considered the issue of Les Revindications Polonaises et la Conférence de la Paix – “The Polish Revindications and the Peace Conference”. Piłsudski’s successes in the field of European diplomacy and the French government’s recognition of the need to rebuild a strong Polish state in the new geopolitical situation determined by the revolution in Russia were issues discussed by the GOdF leadership but did not translate positively into the attitude of the Grand Orient of France to the newly organizing Freemasonry in Poland. On the contrary, they placed Polish lodges along with their (alleged) protector Piłsudski on the side of ideological opponents. The opinion of the GOdF authorities expressed in April 1919 on the allegedly “anti-republican character of Polish freemasonry” is significant in this respect. The accusation of anti-Semitism came quickly. This criticism still had to intensify when in Poland at the beginning of the twenties a Freemasonry with a liberal-national profile (represented by the Grand Lodge “Poles United”) was formed – in contrast to the universal, transnational and humanitarian character of the GOdF. Polish historians differ on the matter of when and which lodges were brought to life. To a large extent, the perpetrators of this confusion were the founders of the Grand National Lodge themselves, who were forced to apply for the founding act for the Polish obedience twice. The first time the godmother was the Grand Lodge of Italy, and when it was deemed irregular by international Freemasonry, the Polish Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite played the role of the founder. It was an unlawful solution from the point of view of the later principles of masonic regularity, since the formation of the Scottish Rite structures (higher degrees) is conditioned by the existence of symbolic, St. John’s obediences – and not vice versa! All this causes that – as I wrote elsewhere – the birth of the first lodges, starting from the Mother-Lodge “Copernicus” in Warsaw, is located almost at the mythical time in which “everything was possible”. The survey, carried out in 2017 as part of the research grant “Polish culture in the face of western esoteric philosophy in 1890-1939” at the archives and library centre of the Grand Orient de Belgique (Grootoosten van Belgie), gave an insight into several French-language documents sent from Warsaw to Brussels that deal with the issues fundamental to the Polish obedience. They officially inform of the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Poland (Grande Loge de Pologne), hereinafter referred to as the Grand Lodge of Poland, “Poles United” (Polonais Reunis). They state that a grand lodge operating in Warsaw, “founded on September 11, 1920, by delegates of the seven regular lodges formed under the obedience of the Grand Lodge of Italy and recognized by her earlier “- asks for recognition. It is clear from this and other documents that the key to the edifice of the Polish national obedience that was rebuilt exactly one hundred years after the decree of Alexander I (1821), was at the end of the war in the hands of the Italians. They were the representatives of the Gran Loggia d’Italia degli A.L.A.M. (Obbedienza di Piazza del Gesú) Founded in 1805, the Grand Lodge of Italy, a Masonic central with a more moderate orientation than the Grand Orient of Italy (the so- called Palazzo Giustiniani), operated on the Scottish Rite and was topped by Supremo Consilio, the Supreme
Council. As such, she was associated with the leading forces of Freemasonry of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States, especially the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction in Washington D.C. It is also possible (a hypothesis requiring confirmation in American documents), that inspired and supported by the Washington headquarters, she turned her eyes towards Central Europe, particularly to two countries:  Czechoslovakia and the Republic of Poland established in 1918. The interest in new countries, which were entirely or partly created in the territory of the former Austrian Empire, was not unusual on the Apennine Peninsula. Italy united in 1871, had its own vital interest in the breakup of the Habsburg monarchy hostile to them, and since Garibaldi’s time had great sympathy for the Polish cause – which was already mentioned. On the international arena, they supported the 13th point of the Proclamation of the President of the United States, W. Wilson (1913-1921), talking about the restitution of the Polish State with access to the sea, and the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite for Italy issued a special declaration on this matter. The Italian Masonic circles, and with them the democratic and liberal public opinion of Italy, have affirmed since the outbreak of war the Polish independence aspirations (La Polonia non é morta …), which was expressed by establishing in 1914 the “Pro Polonia” Committee, composed of parliamentarians-freemasons, and in 1917 (?), the “Polonia” lodge in the Grand Lodge of Italy – with a document permitting the creation of a separate obedience, under the same name. The observer of the events connected with the creation of the “Copernicus” Lodge in Warsaw and the creation of six new lodges could have been surprised by the fact that they took place in the most difficult phase of the Bolshevik war (1919-1921) for the Polish side, in the summer of 1920. The front approached Warsaw, from which government agencies and foreign legations were evacuated; hunger, desertion and disease were spreading. Only Italian diplomats remained on the site, including a military attaché – all involved in the creation of the Grand National Lodge. Participant of events, diplomat Władysław Günter, describes the circumstances of establishing the Copernicus Lodge: “[…] only the Italian emissary [Francesco] Tomassini and the staff of his legation remained in Warsaw. At that time, the Italian military attaché, Major {Giuseppe] Stabile, started with the knowledge of Mussolini the official organization of the Polish Masonic Lodge as a branch of Italian Freemasonry. The first meeting of the lodge was to take place in the apartment of the then aide- decamp [of Piłsudski] Col. Wieniawa-Długoszowski, who invited me to the grand opening of the lodge. Others present were closest associates of Marshal Piłsudski.” After the proclamation of the Grand Lodge “Polish United” on 11 September 1920, (Rafał Radziwiłłowicz was chosen as her Grand Master for three years, 1920-1922), Stabile, on the recommendation of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Italy Raoul Palerni, as his deputy, was a delegate to both the Grand Lodge, as well as the Supreme Council. A congratulatory letter from the Grand Master Raoul Palerni addressed to the new born Polish obedience dated November 15, 1920 and the patent from January 9 of the following year, establishing the sovereign Polish obedience, effectively mark the cessation of official relations between the two Orders, Italian and Polish. At the same time, the first confrontations between the two Polish masonic institutions, the Grand Lodge and the Council, with the world of international “Royal Art” organizations showed that the process of their recognition may be difficult, both for formal and substantive reasons. The conditions for the operation of Polish Freemasonry turned out to be unfavourable in the twentieth century, with some exceptions. It came to her to be restored under the Partitions, in the conspiracy, and in the Second Polish Republic – after a short period of hope and a relatively free development – to witness the gradual dismantling of young democracy, and in 1938 to bury with her own hands everything she had hardly built. Finally, after years of devastating double occupation, to undertake illegal and secret activities in the communist state. The situation was further aggravated by the fact that Polish Freemasonry was invariably accused of political ambition and machinations. The Order had to struggle with ideological opponents, located on the right and left side of the political scene, and to confront the myth of its own omnipotence. Nieborów, August the 26th 2018