GLEN COVE, NY — World War I was a disaster for
Western civilization. Some countries won and some lost, but all paid
a heavy price.
The war followed two generations of peace. Although the leaders of
the great powers recognized that a war would bring horrors, they underestimated
the nature and extent of those horrors. The English king, the German
kaiser, and the Russian czar were cousins, but family ties did not
In order to understand how one of the greatest wars in history broke
out despite all the incentives for peace, one must understand the role
of secret societies in starting the war. The largest of these societies
was the Masons, a worldwide group of secret lodges under grand lodges
or orients. Historically, they have opposed the power of both the Church
and kings. This has not been true, however, in England, where the male
members of the royal family traditionally have been Masons.
Throughout most of the twentieth century, the Masons in Mexico persecuted
the Catholic Church through their control of the government. The Masons
in France and Italy, as well as other secret societies, were involved
in the anti-Catholic revolutions in these countries. Throughout World
War I and for many years prior to it, the majority of the members of
the French government were Masons.
Many Popes as well as the Southern Baptist Convention have condemned
Masonry for excluding the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross from
its theory of salvation. Although the Masons do believe in a supernatural
creator, their philosophy is largely limited to the natural rather
than the supernatural order. Indeed, they recognize no religious distinctions
between Christians and pagans. Another religious objection is their
practice of using veil oaths in violation of the Second Commandment.
Some Masons have engaged in serious crimes. The persecution of the
Church in Mexico and the killing of Mexican priests, and the mass killings
of priests, brothers, and nuns during the Spanish Civil war and the
French Revolution all involved Masons. Most Masons are not involved
in these intolerant and criminal activities; the Catholic Church has
recognized this distinction a few times while consistently condemning
the belief system of Masonry itself and prohibiting membership.
Masons, who were powerful in the early days of the United States,
lost their power because of scandals. These included the 1826 ritual
murder of William Morgan in upstate New York by members of the Batavia
Lodge. The murder of Morgan was similar to the London murder of the
banker Calvi by members of an Italian Propaganda Lodge of Masons in
that the actual murderer in both cases was never identified. (In Italy,
most Lodges of the Grand Orient are legal, but the Propaganda Lodges
A few decades after the Morgan murder, American Masons began rebuilding
their power. Throughout the first two-thirds of the twentieth century,
Masons were very powerful on the U.S. Supreme Court, holding eight
of nine seats from 1948-1956. Presidents T. Roosevelt, Taft, Harding,
F. Roosevelt, and Truman were Masons.
In the years leading up to 1914, there was a powerful Scottish Rite
Masonic Lodge in Belgrade, which was the capital of the Kingdom of
Serbia. At the same time, Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef was
certain that the French Masons were trying to start a war between Austria-Hungary
and Russia to destroy the great European monarchies. His suspicions
were almost prophetic.
The immediate cause of World War I was the 1914 assassination of the
Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a Serbian. The
assassin and his co-conspirators all carried military pistols. Many
Serbians wanted a large national Slavic state in the Balkans. The Balkans
are actually ill suited for such unity. The Croatians, Slovenes, and
many of the Herzegonians are Western, Catholic, civilized, and were
part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Serbians, Montenegrins, and
many of the Bosnians are Eastern Orthodox and brutal. At the end of
the war, the King of Serbia got his kingdom of Yugoslavia with all
the Balkans forced into it.
There is no doubt that the assassination of the Crown Prince was carried
out by a secret society with help from high-ranking officers of the
Serbian Army. Initially, suspicion fell on a group called National
Defense, but this seems to have been unfounded. Historians are divided
as to whether the assassination was planned by the Belgrade Masonic
Lodge or a secret society known as the Black Hand. The Black Hand was
organized secretly in the 1860s or 1870s and murdered the King of Serbia
and his wife in 1903.
Many Serbian officers belonged to it. Perhaps the Masonic Lodge and
the Black Hand were both involved. The fact that all the conspirators
had military pistols may point to the Black Hand, but the testimony
at the trial of the conspirators implicated the Masons. Historians
who wrote during the war tended to believe it was the Masons; more
modern historians lean more toward the Black Hand. The two groups probably
had extensive overlapping memberships.
Austria conducted a thorough investigation. When it came to the inescapable
conclusion that the Serbian government was involved, Austria issued
an ultimatum that led to war. France, Britain, and Russia mobilized
in preparation for a war against Austria, and almost certainly Germany.
Kaiser William II adored his army and general staff. His trust of
his generals led him to make bad decisions himself and to allow the
general staff to make bad decisions. France supported Serbia, so Germany
decided to make war on France. The German generals and field marshals
were too arrogant to realize what a propaganda defeat it was when the
Germans attacked through the neutral countries of Belgium and Holland.
The Russians went to war for the sake of their fellow Eastern Orthodox
in Serbia. The Italians, who had old grievances with Austria, were
politically were more akin to the Masonic-dominated governments of
Britain and France than to the authoritarian monarchies of Germany
and Austria. The British were ready to come to the aid of France because
of shared values, despite the history of enmity.
For over a generation, American foreign policy had been shifting to
favor Britain, but America stayed out of the war until 1916. German
heavy handedness -- including the sinking of the Lusitania, a ship
carrying American tourists and munitions for Britain -- finally tipped
the propaganda balance in favor of America entering the war. American
participation never enjoyed anything like unanimous support.
In Part II of this series, I will discuss the far-reaching consequences
of the war.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2011
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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