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En: David S. Owens: Schröder Reproduction - The Work Process

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Charcoal portrait by my Masonic Brother Travis Simpkins. Travis is a 32° Scottish Rite Freemason and member of Morning Star Lodge located in Worcester, Massachusetts. The lodge was instituted in 1793 with the patriot Isaiah Thomas being the lodge's first Master.
Only a yellowed faded photo was preserved after the Nazis destroyed the Friedrich Ludwig Schröder statue in the Hamburg Lodge House in a blind rage.
Sketch from Brother Jens Rusch 2015.
The wax models shipped from Ukraine to northern Germany are destroyed twice by customs officials. Presumably, they were considered smuggling cash register drugs or anything else - who knows? Once the figure at the Polish-German border becomes a Schröder puzzle, another time at the Bavarian border.
After a long search, Jens Rusch has come into contact with Russian 3D artist Roman Zonder, who has an outstanding imagination. He manages to achieve a great similarity from the preparatory work.
Last corrections before the bronze casting of the miniature model by Jens Rusch.
The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany, Brother Christoph Bosbach (right) recently awarded Brother Jens Rusch the golden merit badge "Pro Merito" for this huge achievement and the enormous perseverance of the cancer-stricken brother.
"The Kidnapping"

Indignant brothers of his own lodge "Roland" in the Orient Hamburg "abducted" the large-scale sculpture in solidarity from the boiler room. Now she has been back in the studio of the perplexed artist in the northern German town of Brunsbüttel.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Schröder Reproduction - The Work Process

David S. Owens


First, I will set forth some information about the artist and Mason, Jens Rusch, so that the following can be properly understood.

Brother Jens Rusch occupies a somewhat unusual position in German Freemasonry. Although he does not hold a significant office, his role can be described as "not insignificant". This is due to the fact that he does not feel obliged to any of the Masonic teaching methods practiced in Germany alone. Only then was it possible to have such a huge, common platform as the online lexicon www.encyclopedia-masonica.com.

He did this for years on his own, had to endure hacker attacks and the threat of honorary tribunals and survive. But times change. Today, well over 40 million page views and more than 5,000 meticulously compiled content pages are of high value for this Masonic public relations tool.

The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany, Brother Christoph Bosbach recently awarded Brother Jens Rusch the golden merit badge "Pro Merito" for this huge achievement and the enormous perseverance of the cancer-stricken brother. He was described as a "traitor", to now a highly valued knowledge facilitator. His team of brothers and also sisters, of the leaders and top-class staff of archives and museums has grown significantly.

Many of today's Freemasons thus received their first, serious knowledge of Freemasonry, which in Germany is also called "Royal Art". Often, his editorial staff receives letters of thanks in this spirit. Meanwhile, there is a support association for the preservation of the online lexicon, which in Germany is called "Freemason Wiki". The chairman is none other than Grand Master Brother Bernd Brauer. The magazine-like lexicon has thus become sustainable.

Rusch designed and produced many jewels and designed working carpets for German lodges, book titles and illustrations. They all have one thing in common: He basically worked "pro bono" and out of the goodness of his heart, so he did not take any fees.

When he was asked by the lodge master of the oldest German lodge "Absalom to the Three Nettles" in the Orient Hamburg, if it was technically feasible to reconstruct a life-size figure from an indistinct photo of a statue destroyed by the Nazis, he took the daunting request without hesitation and at no time did he demand even a penny for this increasingly time-consuming task. It was the pure Masonic idealism that drove him for over two years. No one thought about a contract or an official task structure at this time. Why? No one thought it was ever necessary.

Quote from AF&AM Grand Master Stephan Roth-Kleyer:

“I wish the brothers responsible for this project much success. I would be very happy to be able to see the life-size statue of our brother and great Masonic reformer, Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, during one of my next visits to Hamburg. I would like to encourage you, my brothers, to help with this project.”

In addition to this, the artist Jens Rusch was increasingly forced to indulge in what the Nazis had done to German Freemasonry, but also the horror at how inadequately discussed the atrocities done to German Freemasonry in the post-war period. Instead, such atrocities were opressed and hushed.

Jens contacted authors and contemporaries who also dealt with the topic of "oppression". He received very similar information from Spain, where only today the atrocities of the Franco regime are discussed and not oppressed. Such information is also kept in a large archive in Salamanca. From Israel, Denmark, to Iceland, the growing project of reconstruction received great recognition.

Thus, the enormously complex artistic task became a symbolic act instead. When I recognized the increased level of difficulty of this artistic task, I decided to support Brother Jens Rusch in the accomplishment of this task. The world needs to know the damage the Nazis did to their own country as well. Everyone knows how they persecuted people, but not what they did to the Freemasons.

Quote by Brother Jens Rusch:

“I am delighted that far-sighted Brothers like David S. Owens have also recognized these relationships. Unfortunately, there is currently little evidence of sustained support for this reconstruction project in Germany; on the contrary, negative voices can be heard.”

In response to the oppression, Jens stated that:

“This reflection is becoming more and more important on a daily basis, because the sprouting of a new and violent right-wing populism in Germany has not left its mark on the lodges in the former GDR. One can only prevent the story from repeating itself in a fatal way, if you face your own past.”

Quote from Arno Schmidt, German author and translator:

"Germany may take the role of the stone in history, over which humanity has stumbled many times.”

An enormously complex artistic task

The artistic dialogue between the traditional, almost medieval style of painting by Jens Rusch and the computer-based work of the 3D artist Oliver Kieser proves to be a walk-in way. Rusch develops more detailed drawings and sketches from an indistinct original photo, which enable Kieser to develop a printable file with the "ZBrush" modeling program. Both, however, have problems with the portrait accuracy, as this must be largely fictitious, or must be fed from entirely different sources. The original photograph of the statue destroyed by the Nazis in 1937 simply does not provide the crucial details. On the basis of a large Schröder painting, which is located in the lodge building of the AF & AM in Hamburg, the two artists initially imagine a rough idea. However, this takes a completely different body position. The two artists are still dissatisfied with the results. They aim for a kind of biometric passport accuracy because they fear that the criticism will start at this point later. After a long search, Jens Rusch has come into contact with Russian 3D artist Roman Zonder, who has an outstanding imagination. He manages to achieve a great similarity from the preparatory work.

For Rusch, the cost of this dataset starts a necessary sequence of expenditures because otherwise the manufacturing process would falter. Correctable first prints in 3D and cast-off wax models have to be created in order to check the later bronze castings for taxable reasons. Without such models, no bronze foundry will accept binding cost proposals.

The wax models shipped from Ukraine to northern Germany are destroyed twice by customs officials. Presumably, they were considered smuggling cash register drugs or anything else - who knows? Once the figure at the Polish-German border becomes a Schröder puzzle, another time at the Bavarian border. The restoration also causes further unforeseen costs. Since Rusch has no contractual mandate and as an artist does not have the necessary reserves, he now relies on the assurance of his Masonic brothers, one would reliably take care of a refund of his expenses.

The first bronze casts of the small sculptures are extremely satisfactory. At a base Bodell Rusch can make last plastic corrections, then takes over a bronze foundry the job and calculates the cost of the later life-size order. The plan to make a life-size 3D print, which is now possible on the basis of the 3D datasets, has to be abandoned because of the high costs. Such a model would cost about 30,000 - € - and would be only the formable specification for the final cast bronze, for the additional 16,000 - € would incur. Because Rusch does not have this amount, this plan must be abandoned.

Now, remarkably, the 3D company Exponat in the north German Neumünster Zuhilfe. In her Czech workshop she employs a man who could reconcile classical sculptor training with modern casting techniques. A stroke of luck, as it turns out. But there are further costs, even though the artists are largely accommodated. From now on, the view and the motivation of those involved will be crucial.

First reactions from abroad show that one knows little to associate with the person Friedrich Ludwig Schröder. Although world-wide AF & AM lodges work after the so-called Schröder ritual, but its biography and above all the fate of the destroyed by the Nazis. The Schröder statue is largely unknown to even educated Freemasons.

Especially from Israel, interested and encouraging reactions arrive. From Spain one asks if one can get the reconstruction process for the archive about the Masonic pursuit by the Franco regime in Salamanca documented. In Danish Esbjerg, the Danish Freemason, Sven Bremer draws attention to the project that has received little attention in Germany. In the USA, Freemason, David S. Owens became aware of the project and from then on supports it as a chronicler and translator.

Masonic magazines, newsletters and magazines report in Montana / USA, Spain - and the Danish Grand Lodge also dedicates several pages to the subject. Only in Germany will the topic continue to be treated as marginalia.

By selling a Shriners painting, Rusch is suddenly put in the position to commission a life-size clay modeling by the Czech artist Lucas Bravenec. As mentioned, he works for the 3D company Exponat and is in the position to implement sculptural work according to classical concepts.

For Jens Rusch, the costs already incurred amount to well over € 8,000, and the artist's wife begins to protest. He has no economic reserves. The project is an unsecure adventure for him. Once again, he assures himself to the initiators of this idea that he will be guaranteed a reimbursement of his expenses. But the executive artistic coordinator, as he originally understood himself, has long since become a Freemason brother who begins to revolt at stoicism and disinterest in his own ranks.

"The womb is still fertile from which this crept.”

His style of expression is changing, he speaks of wanting to close with this symbolic figure a wound that has beaten the Nazis of German Freemasonry. In fact, no one has tackled this topic in the past 80 years.

One should perhaps know that the splendid lodge in Welckerstrasse, Hamburg was not simply destroyed by the National Socialists in 1937. The lodge was meticulously carried stone by stone, looking for hidden chambers to expose the "Masonic mystery". Ritual objects were robbed and collected into a disparaging exhibition about the "shameful Masonic and Judaism". In their hatred and destructive rage, the original Friedrich Ludwig Schröder statue was knocked over and broken on this occasion. From the perspective of the Nazis, it was to be a crushing blow to the heart of European Freemasonry.

This was followed by demagogic books and tons of teasers that denigrated German Freemasons in a sustainable way that is still effective today. When German lodges organize their public guest evenings, they are still confronted with the prejudices inflicted at that time; but not only that. In today's Turkey, this "success concept" is repeating itself. Masons are again guilty of the decline of the Turkish currency, Masons are to blame for the so-called "wave of refugees" and Masons are to blame for the coup against Erdogan. Also in the "new" German states, in the neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz are currently such incorrigible voices. Nazi demagogy between 1933 and 45 has never lost its destructive power in Germany.

Bertold Brecht said: "The womb is still fertile from which this crept.”

Unfortunately, he is right. This latent danger is completely underestimated in Germany and the Schröder project described here could well be considered in its own ranks as a symbolic wake-up call. At least Jens Rusch would want this. Unfortunately, the reality is different. When in February 2018, after two years of fee-free preparatory work, the finally completed raw figure in polyester was ceremoniously unveiled by the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodges of Germany, Brother Christoph Bosbach, in the newly built lodge building in the Welckerstraße in Hamburg. Only a few of the invited guests were present. The artist Lucas Bravenec and Jens Rusch, who had come specially from the Czech Republic, were appalled when the 175 cm statue of Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, which was finally inaugurated, was subsequently deposited in a boiler room. In response to the horrified question of the artists, they were told that they had not yet reached an agreement on where, and if so, whether the statue, so laboriously and with much Masonic devotion, could be erected. One of the codetermining 5 lodges would have even strongly opposed a reorganization. In the meantime, two and a half years have passed since he began working on this project. Indignant brothers of his own lodge "Roland" in the Orient Hamburg "abducted" the large-scale sculpture in solidarity from the boiler room. Now she has been back in the studio of the perplexed artist in the northern German town of Brunsbüttel since half a year. The reimbursement of his expenses has not yet taken place.

There he practices with his Schröder statue something that the Masonic G.E. Lessing formulated so wonderfully:

"Freemasonry is a shared silence with a friend."

Additional quotes

Initiator and source of ideas for the reconstruction: Bro Hans-Peter Meissner. At this time worshipful Master of the Hamburg lodge "Absalom zu den drey Nesseln"

"I was 15 years old when my dad visited the place where craftsmen dropped off the former lodge house, before they could visit the lodge house with its furnishings, bones all over, and then they hammered on a statue - it must have been Schröder." Rolf Appel on July 21st, 2017 at the age of 97 years.


"My motivation is simply to heal an outrage committed by the Nazis, which unfortunately was not allowed to undergo a symbolic correction even after more than half a century, in a meticulous and informative metaphor. The reconstruction of the roguishly destroyed Schrödersculpture would not be tackled by larger organizations, for whatever reason; and I have taken on the important project. Artists, and thus the weakest members of a supposedly strong chain of brotherhood, have been working hard for almost two years to create a patchwork of small-scale financing in order to realize this plan. We would be very grateful for any support in whatever form."Jens Rusch in June of 2017


Conclusion

by David S. Owens


It seems to me that a small group of artists, animated by the Freemason Jens Rusch, opened a "Pandora's Box" to be defined even more closely.

While they began their work, a strengthening of right-wing extremist parties such as the AFD was already emerging in Germany, but their rise as a determining factor in the German Bundestag has been at an unpredictable pace over the past two and a half years. This was accompanied by racist statements in the Bundestag and attacks on Jewish restaurants. Worried people in major newspapers report a resurgent anti-Semitism. In eastern Chemnitz, pogroms and attacks against refugees and other "foreigners" were documented by neo-Nazis. And there were deads.

The warning sign trivialities of the President of the Constitutional Protection Measure led to his removal from office by a controversial "promotion" to the Secretary of State. In the former GDR there is hardly a social layer in which not even the voices of the right-wing populist party AFD could be heard. The Masonic lodges do not remain unmolested. In the German trend, this party, which shows an extremely radical appearance, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic and thus the seizure of power by the Nazis, already the second strongest party in Germany.

In this tense situation, reconditioning, a drastic reminder would be more than appropriate. It has been overpowered and concealed. However, dangerous signals can only be correctly classified if one knows and understands one’s own history. Precisely because of this, this reconstruction of a Masonic statue, which in a similar situation was destroyed by the Nazis, all of a sudden becomes an extended symbol, indeed a manifesto. It becomes an outcry against injustice, a metaphor for history that could be repeated.

At any rate, I will continue to follow with keen interest how the German Masons will deal with this situation. Many American brothers have experienced Germany as an occupation soldier. Not a few have seen the horror left behind by the Nazis. They saw the corpses of murdered Jews in the extermination camps. If today extremely worried Jews in the largest German publication organs raise their voice, then this is also an appeal to these brothers, who may still remember these horrors.

David S. Owens September 2018

Further information about the revived anti-Semitism in Germany:

http://www.spiegel.de/thema/antisemitismus/

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