Anne Kerdijk (1882-1944)

Kerdijk was one of the early members of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain, but not from the very beginning. Initiated in 1908, and unlike many other early members, she progressed through degrees slowly. Her passing was in 1909 and her raising in 1910. Kerdijk is mentioned in the documents surrounding the founding of the Dutch federation in 1918.

Together with H.J. van Ginkel Kerdijk was editor of the magazine Swastika, which was published between 1911 and the outbreak of the First World War. She was also editor of the official bulletin of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain. She also translated texts, such as the book De Godsdienst der Vrijmetselarij by Charles Fort, which was published by the publishing house of Van Ginkel and Duwaer. In addition, Kerdijk was married to Stefan Schlesinger.

On February 27, 1924, the Jewish Schlesinger married the Dutch Anna (Be) Kerdijk (1882-1944) in Vienna. According to Wikipedia, Kerdijk was half Jewish, other sources say she was not Jewish. Due to the growing anti-Semitism in Vienna, the couple moved to the Netherlands a year after their marriage, where Schlesinger provided graphic work for old and new clients.

Kerdijk is discussed in the book Broeders en Zusters of Ank Engel about the early days of Le Droit Humain in the Netherlands. Among other things, it is mentioned that, despite her husband having designed the cover of a book and Franz Farwerck’s Masonic ex-libris, Kerdijk has asked for the dismissal of Groot Commander Farwerck. Later Farwerck would exchange Le Droit Humain for the National Socialist Movement.

Kerdijk died as a non-Jewish person in Auschwitz because she continued to support her Jewish husband to the end. For this reason there is slightly more information about her than about some other people in early mixed gender Freemasonry. For example, a diary of her has been found that can be partly read online on the website of the Jewish Historical Museum. That diary also contains some information about Kerdijk.

Anne was born in Amsterdam. She had two sisters and a brother. Anne was the youngest of the four. She did not receive her interest in mysticism and esotericism strangers. According to the Jewish Historical Museum, Inayat Khan stayed with the family in 1921. In the same year, Anne would translate a booklet of his (from English) entitled Introduction to Sufism. I suspect that this is the famous Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927) of Universal Sufism. She was almost 40 years old by that time, but it does indicate that there was more interest in less common ideas in her family.

There is another version of this story. One Saida van Tuyll (Van Tuyll is another name that occurs more often in the history of mixed Freemasonry, but Saida was actually called Henriette (Willebeek) le Mair) tells how she first met Inayat Khan. Kerdijk called her parents to ask if they wold help the Van Tuyl family to lodge Inayat Khan. Kerdijk knew nothing about Khan, but the question had come from Switzerland where Khan had given lectures and where the Kerdijk’s family apparently had contacts. The Van Tuyll family had just returned from a seven-month trip through Morocco and were delighted to hear that they suddenly had a real Sufi in the house.
Kerdijk must also have been impressed by the man, because, as said, she translated a book by Khan. The English version of this book even speaks of “A. Kafia Kerdijk an early Mureed ”. That would mean that Kerdijk also became a member of Inayat Khan’s Sufi movement. Khan writes in his autobiography that Kerdijk “joined for a while”. Incidentally, that part of the autobiography contains more well-known names, “Mr. and Mrs. van Ginkel”, “Mr. Farwerck”, “Mr. and Mrs. van Meerwijk”.
Furthermore, the Jewish Historical Museum mentions that Kerdijk was interested in the Bah’ai movement. The same summary information is repeated in various places.

Kerdijk had a brother, Frits, who ran a publishing house where she worked as a secretary according to Wikipedia. It seems that at that time all kinds of esoteric groups and people with such interests formed a kind of network of publishers and organizations. Inayat Khan writes that it was often Theosophists who give his lectures, those Theosophists were again regularly involved in mixed Freemasonry and so you often come across the same names.

Speaking of publishers, Kerdijk was one of the first members of the lodge Christiaan Rosencreutz, which was founded in 1911 under the chairmanship of H.J. Ginkel. According to Engel, all members had been initiated at the first mixed lodge Cazotte. Other first members mentioned by Engel are: Ms. Glasbergen-Franken, Mr Duwaer, Ms. Van Ginkel and Ms. van Blommensteyn-van Haeckeren.
Engel further writes that Kerdijk translated the three Rosicrucian manifestos and that these were published by the publishing house of Van Ginkel and Duwaer. She also translated A.E. Waite’s The Real History Of The Rosicrucians into Dutch.

Not much can be found about Kerdijk’s Masonic career. She has been Worshipful Master of the lodge Georges Martin III and in 1923 she was at least a member of the Grand Lodge. She and her husband also appear to have been involved with the short-lived lodge Ars Regia (1927-1934) where she was a Chaplain in 1927 and her husband Worshipful Master.

And so we get stuck again. After finding a few sources of information in quick succession, it is not possible to find enough information to give a bit of an idea of ​​this versatile woman. Anne Kerdijk probably got interested in mysticism from her parents, who were again in a “network” of wanderlust and curious people. She was involved early on in mixed Freemasonry and later on in Universal Sufism and probably some other groups and movements. She translated books, was an editor, familiar with several publishers and so principled that she followed her Jewish husband to an extermination camp.

With Farwerck she shared Sufism, a Masonic lodge (or several) and undoubtedly many acquaintances. Yet, as we saw, they didn’t remain (if they ever were) on good footing.

That is where it ends (for now) …

In the book on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the international order of mixed Freemasonry “Le Droit Humain” in the Netherlands from 1949, there is a photo from 1920 of the first International Convent ”showing, among others, Kerdijk

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