Freemasonry in France during the Nazi occupation and its rehabilitation after the end of the Second World War
This thesis examines the involvement of the French Freemason movement in the Resistance during the Occupation of France by the Germans 1939-1945, its relationship with the Vichy government and the effect the 'Nouvelle Révolution' had on the lives of individual Masons. To set the scene and to put the role of Freemasonry into perspective in the life of France and the French political system, the origins of French Freemasonry are examined and explained. The main French Masonic obediences are discussed and the differences between them emphasised. The particular attributes of a Freemason are described and the ideals and ethos of the Order is discussed. From its earliest days, Freemasonry has often been persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church or by extreme Right-wing movements. The history of this persecution is reviewed and the reasons for its persistence noted, with especial emphasis on the treatment of Freemasons under the fascist regimes of Italy and Germany. The fate of Freemasonry in countries under German control is also briefly examined. With the occupation of France by the Germans, the differences and similarities of the treatment of French and German Freemasons are discussed. The processes and legislation of this ban are closely examined and the part played by the Vichy government in the persecution of French Freemasonry is discussed. The effects of this persecution and the consequences for individuals are examined and the Freemason's role in the emerging Resistance movement is reviewed. The contribution of many lodges to the Resistance movement is examined and the sacrifice of many Freemasons for their ideals is emphasised.