The Nazis rejected Freemasonry – banning it in January 1934. Freemasons were condemned as part of an internationalist, Zionist conspiracy, working against the interests of German nationalism. The secrecy associated with Masonic rituals has always made the organisation susceptible to conspiracy theories and suppression by totalitarian regimes. Criticism of Freemasons was a regular theme in Nazi propaganda – often framed in antisemitic discourse about the threat from ‘World Jewry’.

Thousands of Freemasons were persecuted by the Nazi regime and many were incarcerated in concentration camps, classed as political prisoners.