En: Friedrich Ludwig Schröder

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Friedrich Ludwig Schröder

by David S. Owens

Born: November 3rd, 1744 - Schwerin, Germany Died: September 3rd, 1816 - Rellingen, Germany

Friedrich was a German actor, actor-manager, dramatist and prominent masonic leader and writer. He is said to have been "incontestably the greatest actor that Germany ever had, and equally eminent in tragedy and comedy."

He was friends with fellow Freemasons - Johann von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Gottfried Herder, and Friedrich Meyer. He was introduced to the Freemasons by his good friend Johann Bode, and was initiated in 1774 into Lodge Emanuel zur Maienblume in Vienna, Austria. He served as Master of the Lodge from 1785 until 1799.

In 1794, he was elected to be the Deputy Grand Master of the English Provincial Grand Lodge of Lower Saxony, and became the Grand Master in 1814. He devoted himself to a thorough reformation of the Masonic system, which was known as "Schröder's Rite". He based his system on the premise that all Freemasonry had proceeded from England through the English constitutions.

A Lodge named in his honor "Friedrich Ludwig Schröder lodge" was destroyed by the Nazis in Welckerstraße in Hamburg, Germany.

The Nazis occupied the Grand Lodge in Welckerstraße in the city of Hamburg in 1937. First, they used the lodge for an anti-Masonic exhibition, and after that they ordered it to be torn down. The easiest way for them was to burn it, like the Nazis used to do with institutions that were proclaimed anti-German, but not in this case. Their intentions were to reveal the secrets of the Freemasons, and they dismantled the building piece by piece – finding nothing. In a rage, the Nazis destroyed the statue of the founder of the Grand Lodge Friedrich Ludwig Schröder. With this act, they destroyed not only important Masonic history, but also valuable German culture.

Shortly after Friedrich Schröder's birth, his mother, Sophie Charlotte Bierreichel (1714–1792), separated from her husband and joined a theatrical company, touring with success in Poland and Russia. Subsequently she married Konrad Ernst Ackermann and appeared with his company in many German cities, finally settling in Hamburg. The young Friedrich Schröder showed considerable talent, but his childhood was rendered so unhappy by his stepfather that he ran away from home and learned the trade of a shoemaker.

In 1759 he rejoined his parents, and became an actor. In 1764 he appeared with the Ackermann company in Hamburg, playing leading comedy parts; but these he soon exchanged for the tragic roles in which he became famous for. These included Hamlet, King Lear and Philip in Friedrich Schiller's "Don Carlos".

After Ackermann's death in 1771, Friedrich and his mother took over the management of the Hamburg theatre, and he began to write plays, largely adaptations from the English, making his first success with the comedy Die Arglistige. In 1780 he left Hamburg, and after a tour with his wife, Anna Christina Hart, a former pupil, accepted an engagement at the Court Theatre in Vienna.

In 1785, Friedrich took over his Hamburg management once more and conducted the theatre with marked ability until his retirement in 1798. He was requested to come back after the Hamburg theatre fell into decay, to assist in its rehabilitation, and in 1811 he returned to it for one more year. He died September 3rd, 1816

Friedrich had an illegitimate son named Carl Friedrich Heiberg, who became a lawyer, politician, and book and music dealer. Carl had two sons, Hermann (writer) and Julius (prosecutor and mayor).

See also