talking to

Potentate, EMIRAT European Shrine Temple

My guest is our brother Frank Ullmann, Potentate of the European Shrine Temple EMIRAT. Thank you, Frank, for your time and for sharing with our audience your vision of the Shrine in Europe.

Thank you for the invitation and for allowing me to present Emirat Shrine.

For sure we have in our audience people that doesn’t know what is Shrine about. Please, describe in few words this outstanding philanthropic society for kids.
We, as Shriners, are a fraternal organization and part of Freemasonry. Not all Masons are Shriners, but all Shriners are Master Masons. Shriners focus on philanthropy, supporting medical care to children in need through their network of Shriners Hospitals for Children. We are known for our distinctive red fez, organizing parades and events to raise awareness and funds for our charitable efforts.

A short history of Shrine in the US?
In 1870, a group of Masons met frequently for lunch at Knickerbocker Cottage in New York City. Among them were Walter M. Fleming, a physician, and William J. Florence, an actor. The group often talked about starting a new fellowship for Masons and one that would be based more on fun and Fellowship than serious ritual. Fleming and Florence took this idea seriously and became active.
Billy Florence had been traveling in France and had been invited to a party at the home of an Arab diplomat there. The party had been staged in the style of a musical comedy and its climax consisted of all the guests becoming members of a (supposedly) ancient secret society. The exotic style, foreign flavors and extraordinary music of the Arabian feast inspired him to propose this theme as the base for the new community.

Walter Fleming took Florence’s ideas and together they designed the ritual, an emblem and customs, of the “Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”. It was also established that members should wear a red fez.
The first meeting of the Mecca Shriners, the first temple founded in the U.S., was held on September 26, 1872, but it took about another 4 years before the idea of the Shriners really began to bear fruit.
They also became involved in charitable work and continued to grow.
The members of the Shriners fraternity have always shared a desire to help those in need. In the late 1910s, as a polio epidemic swept across the United States, it was apparent that many children were going without appropriate care. So the Shriners established a children’s hospital to meet this need.
On May 12, 1922, was placed the cornerstone of the first Shriners Children’s hospital, in Shreveport, Louisiana.
So in 2022 we celebrated 150 Years Shriners and 100 Years Shriners Children`s Hospital.

Tell us about the Shrine hospitals – how many they have there, what kind of affections is possible to be treated etc
Today, as Shriners, we operate children’s hospitals, excellence centers, outreach clinics and telemedicine centers in the U.S. Canada and Mexico. The vision of 2035 is to transform from 22 hospitals to 3-4, with more outreach clinics, centers of excellence and the largest telemedicine in the world. This is a journey from 22 hospitals to becoming a worldwide working aid organization.
Special attention is given to prosthetics, scoliosis, burns and many related diagnoses. Children are treated free of charge until the age of 18.

Do you believe that European mentality embraces philanthropy in a similar way that the American does? I ask you this because the Freemasonry in Europe is quite different compared to the North-American one, as well as different to the South and Central American Craft. I dare to say that the pa-rades of bikers, clown units which are collecting money for children doesn’t fit in the general European picture as it does in the US.
You are absolutely right about that. As a european Temple, we are represented regionally by our 16 clubs in 7 countries and Nobles in many european countries. These clubs try to organize the club life according to the regional circumstances and thereby generate donations for the idea we have as Emirat Shriners.
In Speyer we participate every year in the Brezelfest Parade.
In Sicily, the Nobles cook with children or a superhero team visits children in hospitals.
In Switzerland, the Nobles make chocolate and sell it for charity.
I think if we continue to manage to convey the original idea of Fun and Fellowship, we also create interest in the Shriners and therefore in the philanthropic side.
Of course, Freemasonry in Europe is rather discreet and the Shriners needs publicity. But how much each Noble Brother goes into the public remains his decision.

I kindly ask you to describe Shrine’s European journey, from its appearance on the continent until today. How many Shriners do we have, in which countries are there clubs? Do you think it is possible to have a Shrine hospital also in Europe?
First, let’s come to the last question.
Our idea is to send children from all over the world with an accompanying person to our existing health facilities and to fully finance the travel expenses and the stay. The bureaucratic hurdles are much lower than in Germany or Switzerland, for example. And since we are active worldwide, it does not matter in the end where our facility is located. So no, we are not planning our own hospital. For this money we can fly countless children to existing facilities.
Since 2011, we have transported over 120 children to our facilities, many of them multiple times if needed. In 2023, we will be able to send at least 11 accompanied children by the end of the year. We accomplish all of this with just over 700 members. I would not like to leave unmentioned the support of our ladies, who organize themselves and together contribute a not inconsiderable part to our success.
The forerunner of EMIRAT was founded in 1951 by American soldiers as a club. In 2011, the Nobles were granted a charter as an independent temple.
Clubs exist in Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Cyprus, Italy, Greece and Turkiye. In addition, there are EMIRAT Nobles in Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France and Netherlands. I hope I have not forgotten anyone.

Frank, please explain why you chose this motto: “Share the Light”.
There are several reasons.
The light symbolism shows the closeness to Freemasonry.
Sharing the light of our idea both within Freemasonry, but also in the profane world should be close to the heart of every Noble.
And as a last point, of course, to use the experience of long-time Nobles is to share light.

What are the main objectives of your mandate as Potentate of Emirat Temple?
To provide treatment to as many children as possible, to continue to increase membership and in some places to set a course for the future. This means to go more professional in our social media appearances and the homepage or to offer even better tools for public relations.
Which do you consider is the best way to communicate our philanthropy?
If each Noble proudly tells in his Lodge how he is improving the lives of children while having fun and fellowship with our ladies, families and Brothers from all over Europe, I am sure many Masons will be interested in becoming members. If some of the Nobles tell their families or colleagues about it, I am sure we will find more sponsors and perhaps new Masons and Shriners.

Please let us know your curriculum vitae, both ­Masonic and profane.
Born in 1971 in the GDR and grew up there sheltered as a teacher’s child.
After the reunification I worked for a health insurance company.
Later I completed an apprenticeship in adult ­education and since 2001 I have been working in ­Cologne for a large health insurance company, which of course helps me to understand some of the bureaucratic constraints.
I have been a Mason since 2006, I was WM in two lodges am DDGM in the American Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany, and since 2016 Shriner.
Further memberships are some typical British degrees from Mark Master to Knights Templar, which I let rest in 2023 to dedicate myself fully to my task as Potentate.