Liberté chérie was one of the very few Masonic lodges founded within
a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War.
1 The Lodge
3 The memorial
4 See also
6 External links
On November 15, 1943, seven Belgian Freemasons and resistance fighters
Masonic Lodge Loge
Liberté chérie (French: Cherished
Liberty Lodge) inside Hut 6 of Emslandlager VII (Esterwegen). The name
of the lodge was derived from La Marseillaise.
The original seven Freemasons of Loge
Liberté chérie were:
Jean De Schrijver
They later initiated, passed, and raised Brother Fernand Erauw,
According to M. Franz Bridoux, former prisoner in Esterwegen’s Hut
6, the founding members of Loge
Liberté chérie were Rochat, Sugg,
Hannecart, Hanson, Somerhausen, Degueldre, and Miclotte.
De Schrijver and M. Story arrived well after the establishment of the
lodge and were not be founding members, but members only.
Paul Hanson was elected master. The brethren met for lodge work in Hut
6 around a table, which was otherwise used for cartridge sorting. A
Catholic priest stood watch, so that the brethren could hold their
meetings; and protected their secrecy.
Hut 6 was used for foreign Nacht und Nebel, (German: Night and Fog),
prisoners. The Emslandlagercamps were a group of camps whose history
is represented by a permanent exhibition in the Documentation and
Information Centre in Papenburg, Germany. Altogether 15 camps were
established on the
Netherlands border, with central administration in
Luc Somerhausen described Erauw's initiation, etc., as just as simple
ceremonies. These ceremonies, (to whose secrecy they asked the
community of Catholic priests for assistance, "with their prayers"),
"took place at one of the tables. ... after a very highly
simplified ritual—whose individual components were however explained
to the initiate; that from now on he could participate in the work of
More than hundred prisoners were in Hut 6, and locked up nearly around
the clock—allowed to leave only for a half-hour walk per day, under
supervision. During the day, half of the camp had to sort cartridges
and radio parts. The prisoners of the other half of the camp were
forced to work under dreadful conditions in the surrounding peat bogs.
The nutrition was so miserable that the prisoners lost 4 kg of
body weight each month, on average.
After the first ritual meeting, with admission of the new brother,
further meetings were thematically prepared. One was dedicated to the
symbol of the Great Architect of the Universe, another "The future of
Belgium", and a further, "The position of women in Freemasonry". Only
Somerhausen and Erauw survived detention, and the lodge stopped
"working" at the beginning of 1944.
Stolperstein for Franz Rochat in the Avenue Clays (fr),
Lodge Master Paul Hanson was moved, and died in the rubble of his
prison, during an Allied air bombardment on Essen, on March 26, 1944.
Jean Sugg and Franz Rochat, belonged to the Philanthropic Friends
Lodge (Les Amis Philanthropes, Lodge No. 5 of the Grand Orient of
Franz Rochat, a professor, pharmacist, and director of an important
pharmaceutical laboratory, was born on 10 March 1908 in Saint-Gilles.
He was a worker in the underground press, and the resistance
publication Voice of the Belgians. He was arrested on 28 February
1942, arrived at Untermansfeld April 1944, and died there on 6 April
Jean Sugg was born 8 September 1897 in
Ghent and was of Swiss German
origin. He co-operated with Franz Rochat in the underground press,
translated German and Swiss texts, and contributed to clandestine
publications, including, La Libre Belgique, La Légion Noire, Le Petit
Belge, and L'Anti Boche. He died in a concentration camp on 8 February
Amédée Miclotte was a high school teacher. He was born 20 December
1902 in Lahamaide (fr), and belonged to the lodge Union et
Progrès. He was last seen in detention, on 8 February 1945.
Jean De Schrijver, was a colonel in the Belgian Army. He was born 23
August 1893 in Aalst, and was a brother of the lodge La Liberté in
Ghent. On 2 September 1943 he was arrested on charges of espionage and
possession of arms, and died in February 1945.
Henri Story was born on 27 November 1897 in Ghent. He was a member of
the lodge Le Septentrion in Ghent. He died on 5 December 1944.
Luc Somerhausen, a journalist, was born on 26 August 1903, in
Hoeilaart. He was arrested on 28 May 1943 in Brussels. He belonged to
the lodge ACSO III and was deputy secretary of the Grand Orient of
Belgium (Grand Orient de Belgique).
Fernand Erauw, an assessor at the Audit Office, and reserve officer
with the Infantry, was born on 29 January 1914, in Wemmel. He was
arrested on 4 August 1942, as a member of the "Secret Army". He
escaped and was finally arrested in 1943.
Guy Hannecart (1903–1945) a lawyer and leader of La Voix des Belges.
He was also member of the lodge les Amis Philanthropes N°3.
Survivors Erauw and Somerhausen met again 1944 in the Oranienburg
Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and remained inseparable from then
on. In the spring of 1945 they were involved in the death marches, and
although Erauw was 1.84 m tall, he weighed only 32 kg on 21
May 1945 — in the Saint Pierre Hospital in Brussels.
In August 1945 Luc Somerhausen sent a detailed report to the grand
master of the Grand Orient of Belgium, in which he delineated the
history of the loge Liberté chérie. Luc Somerhausen died in 1982 at
the age of 79. The last witness, Fernand Erauw, died at the age of 83,
A memorial, created by architect Jean de Salle, was raised by Belgian
and German Freemasons on 13 November 2004. It is now part of the
memorial site of the
Esterwegen Cemetery. Wim Rutten, the grand master
of the Belgian Federation of the
Le Droit Humain
Le Droit Humain said during an
We are gathered here today on this Cemetery in Esterwegen, not to
mourn, but to express free thoughts in public." - "In memory of our
brothers; human rights should never be forgotten.
Grand Orient of Belgium
History of Freemasonry
Suppression of Freemasonry
^ Together with the lodges "Les Frères captifs d'Allach", which
register is now located at the Grand Orient of France museum, and
L'Obstinée, in Oflag X-D).
Fernand Erauw: L'odysée de Liberté Chérie, 1993 — History of this
Lodge (in French)
Pierre Verhas: Liberté chérie: Une loge maçonnique dans un camp de
concentration. Bruxelles, Labor, 2005, ill., 62 p. (in French)
Franz Bridoux: La Respectable Loge Liberté Chérie au camp de
concentration d'Esterwegen, Nuit et Brouillard Éditions du Grand
Orient de Belgique 2009
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Liberté chérie (loge
Weblog (in French)
Christian Laporte (fr): La lumière dans les ténèbres des camps
diz-emslandlager.de (in German)
For a brief history of Belgian freemasonry in French see
fr:Franc-maçonnerie en Belgique
La création de la Loge Liberté Chérie au camp d'
Esterwegen by Franz