le camp d'internement 1914-1919
Le camp d’internés 1914-1919

Dieser Internet-Auftritt verfolgt das Ziel, möglichst viele Informationen über das Internierungslager auf der Ile Longue zusammenzustellen, damit Historiker und Nachkommen der Internierten sich ein Bild von den Realitäten dieses bisher wenig bekannten Lagers machen können - nicht zuletzt auch, um die bedeutenden kulturellen Leistungen der Lagerinsassen zu würdigen.

Le but de ce site est de prendre contact avec les familles des prisonniers allemands, autrichiens, hongrois, ottomans, alsaciens-lorrains... qui ont été internés, pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, dans le camp de l’Ile Longue (Finistère).

A masonic lodge in Ile Longue
Article published on 3 November 2012
last modification on 2 June 2015
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The document of the foundation of the lodge “In Ketten zum Licht” (“from chains to light”) created January 28 1918, in Ile Longue, of which a copy is in our possession, proves conclusively the existence of a camp lodge in Ile Longue.
The copy of the deed of the foundation was entrusted to us by the worshipful Master of the Lodge “Zu den Bergen Romeriken” of Remscheid (Germany), lodge of the freemason prisoner Johannes Mättig.

Gründungsurkunde der Feldloge “In Ketten zum Licht” /
L’acte de fondation de la loge « In Ketten zum Licht »

The document of the foundation of the lodge "From chains to light”

For detailed information about the creation and the life of the lodge, we must unfortunately rely on the book “Volksverrat Feldlogen der im Weltkrieg” (“High treason of the people by the camp lodges during First World War”) by Friedrich Hasselbacher, hateful Nazi publication with the sole objective to slander and destroy the German Freemasonry.
It must be recognized that it is through Hasselbacher that we have the text of the precious brochure “Die Feldloge, In Ketten zum Licht ’und andere freimaurerische Erinnerungen aus der Kriegsgefangenschaft” (“The camp lodge “from chains to Light” and other Masonic memories of captivity”), written by the Freemason prisoner Taeschner Titus, in a handwritten booklet“, solely intended for the Freemasons.”

According to Hasselbacher, the lodge “from chains to Light” was the only camp lodge during the First World War, with the exception of two lodges of English prisoners in the Netherlands.

Memories of Titus Taeschner do not appear to have suffered any malicious changes from Hasselbacher. Here is the translation of some extracts that shed light on the creation and operation of the lodge.

“It is in such a cell (Hasselbacher says: no jail cells, but partitions made by prisoners in large barracks) that we met in small circle, in uncomfortable conditions for 8 people. But we were amongst each other and of course we helped one another. Everyone should bring his own coffee pot or cup if he had one, and his tobacco. The coffee was paid by the fund of the circle. It was basic, but cosy (”gemütlich"), and at these meetings, the atmosphere was lively. Sometimes, however, when confidential Masonic subjects were broached, loud discussions turned into whispers because of the laymen which were only separated by a paper wall.

There, we also discussed the project to transform our small circle of café into a real lodge where it would be possible to present masonic tracing boards. “For” and “against” were subject of deep discussions. There were numerous difficulties, but finally the decision was taken to realize this idea. Soon, four other brothers whom by fate we found, joined us.
According to my suggestion, we put a small article only understandable to freemasons, in the weekly newspaper of the camp.

advert published by Karl Italiener in the prisoners’ news paper

Who among us worked in a piano factory?
Contact in writing Italiener / 18

After that, two brothers introduced themselves: the Turk Nafiz Schefik Kori Bey, police captain of Smyrna, disciple of the first class of the popular university which I had created, and the Doctor of Medicine Othman Holzmann, personal doctor of the Sultan of Morocco, who taught the Turk and Arabic at the same school in which I was a disciple. The first one belonged to the “Meschrutyet” Orient of Damascus, grand lodge of Turkey, the second, to the “Coronation” lodge of Tangier, to which also belonged brother Wei ß who was already a member of our group. A little later, following the arrival of prisoners from the other camps, came the Hungarian, Doctor of Law Manheim, of the “Cosmos N 288” lodge of Paris, and lastly, the merchant B. Schmidt, of “Widow’s Son VII lodge” of “Cap Mount”, Liberia. Now, we were twelve Brothers and the pleasure of this increase was great.

The biggest problem was to find a room likely to serve as a temple. But this question also found a satisfactory solution. Disassembling wall elements served to separated a space of 5,5 m wide and 3,5 m high, which we could quickly set up in the kitchen of the music barrack which was at our disposal. Dismantling was also quick. In a suspended attic in the same room, the various wall elements, other utensils, small table, columns and candlesticks could be quickly and safely stored.

After the confection of our masonic decorations, by a Turkish tailor on one hand and by a Hungarian tailor on the other, after badges in brass for the officers had been cut, jewels melted from 5-French francs and all the officers elected, we were finally able to fix January 28th, 1918, the foundation day of our lodge.“”When this day arrived, all the preparations for an honourable celebration had been made. At 4:30 pm, all the brothers were gathered outside. After a brief speech, all the Masonic brothers proceeded to the act of foundation of the lodge. Then, I asked the brothers to put on their masonic decorations, before the Brother Lederer, from the Grand American Lodge of Philadelphia, holder of the highest rank, went near the altar in the room reserved as a temple to wait for the entry of the Brothers and to light the Fires. “”This event full of mystery held us under its charm. And when Brother Lederer had pronounced these words: “by virtue of the powers which are conferred on me as Brother Mason of the Supreme Council of the 32nd degree, North Jurisdiction, United States of America, I consecrate this profane place, as a masonic Temple and I bring it the Light”, and when the latter began to shine like a meteor, plunging the temple in a radiant brightness, each one of us was profoundly moved. “”Because of the great closeness with the outside profane world which we could feel, and also because of our precarious situation, to our very deep regret, we were only able to hum in a low voice the closing ode, “Schluss-Kettenlied”.
Of excellent humour and profoundly happy, very quickly, we left the Temple to prepare,, the feast which followed. For that purpose, it was however necessary to dismantle the Temple and to pack it. As everybody helped, this work was achieved rapidly. People arranged the tables, white sheets were spread as tablecloths and the tables were decorated with brooms in flower. The crockery was brought and the meal, prepared by a German cook, was served.
Ah! What delights! Italian salad as a first course, soup princess, and beef fillet with asparaguses. Some compote and sweet dishes followed. Indeed, we could have everything on Ile Longue, although, even for that time, at steep prices. The meal cost approximately 30 francs for each of us. The wine was neither lacking, and soon the most lively atmosphere reigned, which however underwent a rough cooling with the roll-call signal of 8 pm.
But after the call, we met again, and, applying certain precautions, we stayed together till approximately midnight. “Here is the list of twelve masonic prisoners of the lodge of the camp”from chains to light", according to Titus Taeschner:

Grand Lodge
Beck, Otto - “Aurora”, Buenos Aires Grand Orient of Argentina
Holzmann, Othman - “Coronation Nr. 934”, Tangier, Grand Loge of Scotland
Italiener, Karl, “Germania zur Einigkeit”, Berlin, Grand Loge of Hamburg
Kreuziger, Gutav - “Teutonia zur Weisheit”, Potsdam, National Grand Loge “Zu den 3 Weltkugeln”
Lederer, Oscar Heinrich - “Philadelphia Konsistory” Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
Manheim, Louis - “Cosmos Nr. 288”, Paris, Grand loge of France
Maser, Carl Heinrich - “Josef zur Einigkeit”, Nürnberg Große Mutterloge des Eklektischen. Freimaurerbundes in Frankfurt a. M
Mättig, Johannes - “Zu den Romeriken”, Remscheid, National Grand Loge of Germany
Nafiz, Schefik - “Meschrutyet”, Damascus, Grand Orient of Turkey
Schmidt, Bernhard - “The Widows Son VII”, Kap Mount, Grand Lodge of Liberia
Taeschner, Titus - “Bruderbund am Fichtenberg”, Berlin-Steglitz, National Grand Loge“Zu den 3 Weltkugeln”
Wei ß, Ludwig - “Coronation Nr. 934”, Tangier, Grand Loge of Scotland

According to a letter of January 26th, 1921, in which the Brother Johannes Mättig wrote to the Great master of the National Grand Lodge of Germany, that the Lodge of the camp “From chains to light” had been unable to make any request of affiliation to a Grand Lodge, being afraid that the correspondence for that purpose could fall in the hands of the French censorship.
In the same letter, Johannes Mättig makes a brief report of the dissolution of the lodge:
"In the middle of 1918, rumours frequently circulated concerning the closure of the camp and our repatriation, and it is June 24th, 1918, the first day of summer and of saint Jean, that we suspended our works. If my memory is correct, 4 meetings took place in the Temple, and 2 tracing boards were presented.

To my knowledge, all the documents were burned by Brother Karl Italiener to avoid that, during a baggage check, they were found by the French.“At the end of his letter, Johannes Mättig asks the Great master for the authorization to continue to wear, during the meetings at the Temple of his Grand Lodge of Remscheid, the”jewels" (badges worn by the officers of a masonic lodge) of this Lodge of camp. Authorization which was granted.

Translated from French by Barbara and Roger

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