Of all countries Germany plays the most important part in the history of ancient Freemasonry, eince it was there that the gilds of Operative Stone-Masons first assumed that definite organization which subsequently led to the establishment of Speculative Freemasonry. But it was not until a later date that the latter institution obtained a footing on German soil. Findel in his History (page 238) says that as early as 1730 temporary Lodges, occupied only in the communication of Masonic knowledge and in the study of the ritual, were formed at different points. But the first regular Lodge was established at Hamburg, in 1733, under a Warrant of Lord Strathmore, Grand Master of England; which did not, however, come into active operation until four years later. Its progress was at first slow; and nowhere is Freemasonry now more popular or more deserving of popularity. Its scholars have brought to the study of its antiquities and its philosophy all the laborious research that distinguishes the Teutonic mind, and the most learned works on these subjects have emanated from the German press. The detailed history of its progress would involve the necessity of no ordinary volume (see Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry published by the Masonic History Company, Chicago, pages 746-94, and 2242-53, also references in this work to Masonic leaders and society of Germany).
William Preston's Illustrations of Masonry state that in 1733 the Earl of Strathmore warranted a Lodge at Hamburg. It has been said also that Doctor Jaenisch was appointed Provincial Grand Master between 1718 and 1720, but there is no record, either of his name or of the Lodge at Hamburg, in the Minutes of the Grand Lodge. In 1741 a Lodge was established at Leipzig by seven Brethren who had held informal meetings during the five previous years.
Brother H. W. Marschall had been appointed Provincial Grand Master of Upper Saxony in 1737, and thereafter many other Provincial Grand Lodges were opened.
In August, 1738, although the King was opposed to Freemasonry, the Crown Prince Frederick was secretly initiated at Brunswick, August 15,1736, and always afterwards ardently supported the Fraternity.
A curious feature of the growth of the Craft in Germany is the number of independent Masonic Bodies which, with or without special authority, exercise control over other Lodges. There are also several independent Lodges in existence. The first of these Grand Lodges was probably the Zu den drei Weltkugeln (Three Globes) Lodge, opened at Berlin by the command of Frederick, who afterwards assumed the position of Grand Master as often as his military duties permitted. Of these bodies there has been a marked tendency in the more modern times to confine the ritual to the exemplification of the first three Degrees. But the earlier records show that other ceremonies were practiced. A Lodge, Three Doves, instituted in 1760, by a Warrant from the "Three Globes," also of Berlin, is recorded that in 1763 other Degrees were employed, including some if not all of the following: Elect of Nine, Elect of Fifteen, Elect of Perpigan, Red Scots Degree, Saint Andrew's Scot, Knight of the East, Knight of the Eagle or Prince Sovereign Rose Croix, a Supreme Council being formed of members of this last Degree to govern the others. This use of the supplementary grades at so early a period is in marked contrast with the later conditions when they were in Germany less favorably pursued.
Students will not overlook the building of the old cathedrals in Germany, especially those of Cologne and Strasburg, and the associations of the Craftsmen that grew with these stately structures, fraternities whose exploits and government are described in Doctor Mackey's History of Freemasonry. Their rules have a peculiar resemblance to our modern regulations. Mention must also be made here of the Verein deutscher Freimaurer, Association of Germzan Freemasons founded on May 19, 1861, at Potsdam with the object of laboring for the development of Masonic ideals and for promoting their advancement, to respond to the requirements of Masonic science, to cultivate Masonic endeavor, to encourage fraternal relief in Lodges, and the exercise of discreet charity. The Association publishes a periodical, Zwanglosen Mitteilungen, every other month, holds yearly conventions of the membership, and also prints various pamphlets and books of value to Freemasons everywhere. The headquarters are at Leipzig.
Among various interesting enterprises is that of the Grand Lodge of the Sun, Zur Sonne, for facilitating the exchange from one Masonic family to another of young people, say from eleven to twenty years of age, principally during the holiday months of the year or at other times as may be desired. These youngsters were preferably to be placed in surroundings corresponding to those of their own homes.