The Forget Me Not flower – a growing myth
There are many stories and myths about Freemasons in World War Two. Many of the lesser known stories are true but one popular story about the Forget-me-not is far closer to fabrication than fact. .. Yes, the Commandant of Stalag 383, that housed some 8000 British POWs was a Freemason “who exercised his harsh duty with compassion, and whatever sympathy he dared." Yes, Allied Prisoners of War did conduct Masonic Meetings in both German and Japanese POW Camps. Yes, all Foundation members Lodge Liberation, consecrated in November 1949 at 25 Collins Street, Melbourne, were former POWs who had been imprisoned in Changi Prisoner of War Camp and/or who had been forced to work by the Japanese on the infamous Burma Railway – some of whom had participated in Masonic Meetings in those camps in Asia. Yes, the Nazi’s outlawed Freemasonry and Freemasons were sent to concentration camps. In those Camps under the Nazis there seems to have been Masonic Meetings. Yes, there is a memorial to the seven Belgian Freemasons and resistance fighters who founded the Masonic Lodge Loge Liberté chérie (French: Cherished Liberty Lodge) inside Hut 6 of the Esterwegen Concentration Camp (Emslandlager VII).
However the story about the adoption of the blue forget-me-not flower by German Nazi-era Freemasons in substitution for the Square and Compass is myth.
The forget-me-not flower is traditionally used as a symbol of love, fidelity and remembrance in Germany and surrounds.
The Grand Lodge zur Sonne of Bayreuth in Bavaria commissioned to have a pin made for delegates to wear to their annual meetings. The pin of 1926 depicted a forget-me-not. Later, in 1934, the Nazis instituted the Winterhilfswerk, which involved youths collecting money for rearmament. To encourage donations, different pins and badges were given to contributors for them to wear during that collection period. The badge used by the Nazis for the collection made in March 1938 coincidentally was the same forget-me-not pin chosen by the Freemasons in 1926. Ironically, the pin was manufactured in the same Selb factory using the same moulds as it did in 1926 for the Grand Lodge zur Sonne.
However, there is absolutely no record of the pin, or the flower, ever having been worn during the war anywhere in Germany as a substitute for the Square and Compass, much less in concentration camps, as the legend would have it. The story also defies logic, besides the fact unathourised pins were illegal, over a 6 year War, such a secret would unlikely to have been kept.
Following the War, the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Germany, Dr. Theodor Vogel distributed the same pin as a token of friendship whenever he made official visits abroad after 1948; most notably at a Conference of Grand Masters in Washington, DC in February 1953, where he recounted the tragic tale of Freemasonry under the Nazi’s and expressed a hope the pin would be worn in remembrance of that oppression... It’s reported those pins were produced in the same Selb factory using the same moulds as used in 1926 & 1938 This explains how the blue forget-me-not became a German Masonic emblem after the war and why, when American Freemasons later founded military lodges in Germany, at least one chose that flower as the lodge name. Many lodges in Germany, at least up until recently, present a forget-me-not to newly raised brethren or Master Masons.
Acknowledgment to Trevor W.McKeown’s article at ,
MWBro Bradley S. & Jean Rickelman “The Myths about Forget-Me-Not Flowers” appearing in The Oklahoma Mason Vol 2 May 2013.
And the podcast, Whence Came You? - 0252 - The Forget Me Not
Lodge Liberation meets - 1st Tuesday of the month at 7:30pm (no meeting Jan) at the Mount Waverley Masonic Centre
A modern version of the pin