Plans to bring Tony Kaddish to Semper Fidelis Lodge No 4428 to speak about the Holocaust have been 10 years in the making. A meeting between Tony and Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Steven Reid at a Cheshire Provincial meeting launched the idea and slow progress ensued. Tony wasn’t idle during this period however as he was perfecting his harrowing presentation which covers the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolph Hitler’s plans for the ‘pure race.’ Tony has already presented this subject to various lodges at York and Sandbach.
He began by telling the story of a young Jewish girl who, against all odds, had escaped to Britain but had lost every member of her family, either en route to the concentration camp at Auschwitz or after they had arrived. Alas, she had lost her childhood in the process. Such was the fate of 1,000,000s of Jews but Tony also told of the similar treatment of 1,000s of Freemasons across Nazi-controlled Europe. He also pointed out that just such a fate befell socialists and people with physical and mental disabilities and those with ethnic backgrounds reviled by the German authorities.
The then persecution of Jews and Freemasons can be traced in history as far back as 1929 when the great stock market crash was blamed on the manipulation of the financial sector by these and other ‘clandestine’ causes. Nor was this blame culture peculiar to Germany and later, to Nazi-occupied Europe. During the discussion session following Tony’s presentation, Steven Reid spoke of similar accusations being made in the Republic of Ireland at that time.
He specifically related the fact that personnel from the police and the Gestapo formed a special unit to deal with Freemasonry. They bullied brothers into ‘voluntary’ resignations and threatened dire consequences for those who refused to do so. They later moved to eliminate the order by ransacking Masonic halls and destroying furniture and property, at the same time removing records in order to create a database of Freemasons who could then be rounded up and ‘eliminated’. Many of those records were recovered by allied forces at the end of WWII and are preserved by the George Washington Memorial Lodge in the USA.
Another interesting subject covered by Tony was the connection between Freemasons and the forget-me-not flower and badge. This emblem was originally used by many charitable organisations to say, “Please don’t forget those in need.” However, as a result of the mass destruction of so many items used for Masonic recognition, the Masons adopted the flower as an emblem of recognition for themselves. Tony concluded by encouraging the brethren to wear the forget-me-not with pride in memory of all of those Masons who died as a result of their membership of our order.
During the discussion following the presentation, several comments and observations were made. Steven Reid referred to sections of Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ in which it refers to the conspiracy theories he held at the time. Steven also observed that it was a ‘crazy world with crazy people in charge’. Another brother recalled the events of the Nazi commandant of the Channel Islands who showed reluctance to carry out some of the harsher curbs on Freemasons. It was conjectured that this officer was or had been a Mason.
In winding up, master of the lodge Brian Buckle thanked Tony for the vast array of information he had shared with the brethren. He added that he had been amazed when visiting a memorial by the large numbers of young people showing interest and support. And the message was clear, ‘this must never be allowed to happen again’.
In his reply for the grand officers, Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder thanked Tony for his presentation and observed that in our thoughts we must consider our values, thinking carefully about what we do in life but that the information provided during this presentation provided a better idea of what had occurred before.
Such was the appeal of Tony Kaddish’s subject that there were 110 Masons in attendance, including South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward, along with John Vause, a Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden of the Province of Yorkshire West Riding and a senior officer in several other Masonic Orders. After the lodge had been closed everyone sat down to a sumptuous four-course meal provided by Lee Munro and his Square and Compass catering team.