Esperanto

Here we have another interesting and elusive subject. In her book about the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain, Ank Engel writes that Farwerck laboured for the cause of Esperanto. I have run into more references to Esperanto, so how exactly did Farwerck fit in that picture?

Esperanto is a language constructed from (mostly Indo-European) languages that is supposed to be easy to learn and hence become an international language. The Pole L.L. Zahendorf developed it in the late 19th century and in the first decades, it was quite successfull.

Of course this is also the time in which mixed gender Freemasonry started and, contrary to most forms of Freemasonry, this was initially an international organisation (some organisations still are). Also there were movements to build more international contacts within Freemasonry in general. One such international organisation (Esperanto-Framasona, from 1913 Universala Framasona Ligo) was even started after members met each other at the first Esperanto congress in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France) in 1905.

Both the Grand Orient of the Netherlands and the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain have noticed the upcoming of Esperanto. In one Bulletin Farwerck himself writes that he himself and F. Faulhaber were appointed to try to have more lodges to know about Esperanto. Faulhaber even tried to have a formal meeting in the language. Another man active for the cause within the same organisation was Karl Schwabenthal who published in the Bulletin in Esperanto.

With Faulhaber we have a link to the early Esperanto movement in the Netherlands. His first name was Frits and Faulhaber lived from 1893 until 1979, so he was an almost exact contemporary to Farwerck.
Faulhaber was born and died in Amsterdam, but he married a Czech wife who was also an active ‘Esperantist’. Faulhaber became best known for working for his cause in labour circles. He was active in the Dutch branch of the Federacio de Laboristaj Esperantistoj, the labour Esperanto federation since 1912. He would join, and lead, other Esperanto movements, wrote and translated books, held radio speeches and tried to introduce the language in the Dutch army.

Not unexpectedly, also internationally there were Masonic Esperanto attempts. A later umbrella called Internationale Freimaurer Liga (1920) had a Swiss chairman, Uhlman, who started to write rituals in Esperanto. When this Liga had its congress in Den Haag (The Hague), the Netherlands, in 1924, J.H. Carpentier Alting held a speech; Alting, the author that Farwerck refers to a lot. Alting would later be the Grandmaster of the Dutch Grand Orient (and his successor Van Tongeren also showed an interest in the cause), so also within “regular” Dutch Freemasonry there were ears for the possibilities of Esperanto.

Another eye-cathing name in the movement is J.C.W. Onderdenwijngaard (original name Polak) who caused a temporary men-only split-off of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands which was the only period in which there was “irregular” men-only Freemasonry in the Netherlands. Onderdenwijngaard was an active promotor of international Freemasonry, a ‘project’ that (naturally) ran parallel to the experiments with Esperanto within Freemasonry.

It is an interesting thought that three things came together in this period. People tried to build international Masonic collaborations, incorporated a movement for a new international language that could help in this regard and then mixed gender Freemasonry also rises, the first organisation (Le Droit Humain) is organised internationally. Farwerck seems to have played his role in all this, but I haven’t found a whole lot of information about his exact part.

Both World Wars were not helpfull to either Freemasonry in general, but especially not to the Esperanto movement (both were forbidden by the occupying forces). Freemasonry relived after the World Wars. Mixed gender Freemasonry never got really big, but the (Masonic) Esperanto movements virtually disappeared. Also international Masonic organisations seem to come (and sometimes go) in waves. Some were started in the last decades, but you no longer hear about Esperanto. I guess the fact that almost everybody learns English at school, has made Esperanto obsolete.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *