Franz Eduard Farwerck was born on March 4th 1889 in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His German father was Franz Otto Richard Heinrich Farwerck. Farwerck’s father was born around 1856 and his mother, Elise Dorothea Struve, around 1850. The grandfather of the father’s side was also called Franz. In 1888 Farwerck’s parents got married and a year later F.E. was born. There is a younger brother, born in 1892, listening to the name Carl Wilhelm (Willy). Franz remained unmarried. His brother married a woman named Johanna Boris, who appears more frequently under her latinised name Borrius (also in her own time). We will run into Johanna again. Carl and Johanna had three sons (born 1922, 1925 and 1930). Obituaries of Franz’ parents, his brother, Johanna and himself can be found online. Some names of grandnephews are usually mentioned. Some live in France, some stayed closer to their family.
Franz kept living with his parents and personnel. (One time he is listed as living in Rotterdam). His mother passed away (apparently after a sickbed) in 1920, his father in 1930 after which Franz inherited the house.
I have to mention the family business too. Franz and his brother worked together on a number of levels and also sister in law Johanna seems to have joined her husband on different projects. “Work” will be the first subject to look at.
I have found no information about Farwerck’s youth. Only his education is sometimes shortly mentioned.
Farwerck was an extremely productive man and usually very fortunate. He studied in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK. Apparently in the same period that he studied he also started to work at a brown-coal factory (1909), two years later he became director (age 22)! Another year later, Farwerck started his own carpet factory which in 1915 merged with another company, which again merged later. Franz, Carl and a certain “J. Farwerck” (Johanna?) are all listed as directors of carpet factories. Farwerck senior was decorated in 1930 at the 100th anniversary of one of the factories just before he passed away. This event made the papers I found a photo with people including Franz and his father and a better photo of his father, whom Franz looked like a lot. Carl and Johanna’s son and his partner seem to have taken over the business later on.
Farwerck is also mentioned being active in the glass industry, a pottery and in 1933 Franz would also join the counsel of a local bank in the small town where he lived (Hilversum).
He seems to have had social ideas. He told Meijer Polak (about whom later) in 1947 that he was part of so many committees because he hoped to improve the situation of workers. One way of doing that was by having workers ‘buy in’ obligatory to the company where they worked and give them a influence in return. This influence did not exactly turn out that way, which was not good for Farwerck’s name. His driver (Willem Viereke) even told the same Polak that Farwerck was hated by his employers. Viereke himself did too apparently. He told Polak Farwerck perhaps paid his wages, but had him and his wife starve during the war. The fact that Viereke also had to leave the coach house for Willy Farwerck and his family probably did not help.
That said, both in his professional life as in his membership of two organisations (see below) Farwerck said to work for the well-being of his fellow humans. He also had regard for animals it seems, because he appears on the 1894-1918 member list of the Vegetarian Union (19).
and other activities
Hoogenboom (1) describes that Farwerck seems to have had an interest in ‘things spiritual’. Hilversum was a spiritualistic hotspot during his life. Farwerck had neighbors that were mediums and all sorts of seances and gatherings were held in his vicinity. That does not automatically mean that Farwerck visited them all, but a fact is that he wrote a little book about Nostrodamus and he studied the Kabbalah. Also he seems to have been active in Theosophical circles and he certainly was impressed enough to help found a foundation to spread the ideas of Emile Coué (1857-1926) in 1924 (his brother was another founding member).
Coué was a French pharmacist who found out that his soothing words accompanying the medicines he provided, worked just as well as the medicines themselves (a placebo effect). He developed a system of auto-suggestion. I have not been able to find out how long this foundation lasted. One of the other founders of this foundation, L.J.C. van Meerwijk, is a person we will run into again later.
Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927), the founder of ‘Universal Sufism’ found enough people to open four centres in the Netherlands in the early 1920’ies. In his autobiography he mentions people who were involved in this initiative. He mentions a “de Heer Farwerck”, not as an early member, but as someone who “took an active part in working” (2). Whether this was Franz or Willy remains unclear.
Now we come to a new angle in our story. I knew that Farwerck was one of the people to found a local Rotary Club in his hometown in 1928. Hoogenboom puts the Rotary quite central in Farwerck’s life. It was the Rotary network that got him approached to join the NSB (about which later) and where he may have learned (or tried) to better humanity and protect heritage. I have the idea that Hoogendoorn vastly overlooks another element of Farwerck’s life, but more about that later.
This ‘bettering’ Farwerck focussed on imbecile and defective children which took a lot of energy of Farwerck’s Rotary Club. Perhaps this is about a society that Farwerck helped to found with the name “De vereeniging tot steun aan maatschappelijk onvolwaardigen”, a very old fashioned name that means something like ‘Society for the aid of socially deficient’. I have found a newspaper advertisement from 1932 to announce a lottery to raise money.
In 1933 Farwerck was one of the people who started a local museum with the short name “‘t Goois Museum” (nowadays “Museum Hilversum”). Farwerk contributed an old weaving loom from his factory. At the 50th aniversary of the museum, a booklet was published. There is an interview with a longtime employee who says that Farwerck did not have much contact with the museum. He remembers him as a “fairly stiff, very aloof” man whose interests included archeology.
An amusing fact, on March 17th of the same year, a group of artists invite Farwerck to lecture about the history of het Gooi (the area where he lived) and he mentions that it is too bad that there is no museum!
René de Clerq (1877-1932) was a Belgian author. With De Clerq’s oldest daughter and one other person, Farwerck founded a De Clerq foundation in 1940 to preserve the author’s legacy.
Also it seems that Franz had something with horses, just as the rest of his family.
History, art, folklore and symbolism
Farwerck was extremely interested in the ways of the ancestors. To Polak he would say in 1947:
My interest for the human races originated when I was 16, when in a museum I saw the remains of a prehistoric man. Ever since I have read every possible scientific publication about this. Gradually I came to the conclusion that heritage played a large role in human nature and what comes from that. (3)
Perhaps another cause for this interest is that in 1917 that a fairly spectacular finding was made on the grounds of a fireplace-factory in his hometown, the owner of which would years later be in the same Rotary Club as Farwerck.
When he traveled to Germany for his work after 1913, he used the occasions to visit as many ancient sites, old churches, folklorist events, etc. as possible. He made many, many pictures which would illuminate many of his later works, especially Levend Verleden (‘living past’) from 1938.
That he did not only make notes and photos is proven when in January 1940 his villa catches fire. A newspaper article mentions that “the family F. Farwerck” was not at home at the time, but that that extremely cold night “very many pieces of art, including precious paintings” were lost. According to the Ritman Library (4) Farwerck was also “a collector of occult books”. Apparently he was a financially well-off businessman.
As we will see, Farwerck was much opposed to what he called “Bolshevism”, liberalism, equality and globalisation. Before our own era, society was more ‘natural’ and Farwerck saw a decline in old ethics. He was not alone with these ideas and he was not alone in his expectation that events in Germany could bring back these old ethics.
As we saw, at some point Farwerck picked up the subject of history, folklore and the Germanic past. I have not exactly pinpointed how that happened. As we saw in “Farwerck by his writings” Celts and Teutons are shortly mentioned in his first book from 1927. This was not the case in older texts. He must have encountered the subject somewhere, but I have not yet found the source. I do have some information about his ‘Teutonic activities’, so that will be the subject of this section.
In 2013 a book was published about Hendrik Joseph Bellen (1884–1961) (5) an early Dutch amateur archeologist. Bellen performed some groundbreaking work, but there were also other sides to his work. One is that he had an interest in the theories of the likes of Rudolf Gorsleben (1883-1930), Guido von List (1848-1919) and Herman Wirth (1865-1981).
In 1931 the “Ario-Germaansche Genootschap” (‘Ario-Teutonic Society’) was founded. Among the founders we find Bellen, but also Farwerck and the poet August Heyting (more about whom below). There is supposedly a link to the Edda Gesellschaft of Gorsleben founded in 1925. It was supposed to be a scholarly group investigating “Ario-Teutonic culture”, but from the start it proved to have more political aims. If this was the reason I do not know, but Farwerck resigned only days after the foundation of the society (as did Heyting). It appears that Farwerck was familiar with “Ariosophic” circles.
The mentioned poet Heyting (1879-1949) wrote a lengthy poem called Yggdrasil (1936) and he founded a group to which he lectured and published about his investigations that formed the basis for his poem. The groups name is similar to the group mentioned above. Not exactly the same name is used all the time, but “Kelto-Germaanse Studiekring Yggdrasil” (‘Celto-Teutonic studycircle Yggdrasil’) is the most common. Three volumes with lengthy essays were published together with the poem, so the group must have been around for a while by that time (at least since 1933, see below). Perhaps Heyting and other members who left the Ario-Germaansche Genootschap” went on with the study circle.
Since both signed the founding document of the Ario-Germaansche Genootschap, Farwerck’s Masonic lodge had an event with Heyting and his group in 1933 and Farwerck lectured for the study circle in 1940. The two must have known each other, probably quite well.
This is all fairly late, but the book about Bellen also gives another clue: Hermann Roeper Wirth (1885-1981). Farwerck sometimes mentions Wirth in his bibliographies. The first time in Levend Verleden (1937) and in most books that were published after. One time Farwerck lists Wirth’s Ura Linda Chronik, but mostly Die Heilige Urschrift Der Menscheit (‘The secret primal language of mankind’), while Wirth has written many more texts. Eickhoff with his fairly ‘anti-Farwerck’ information (16) says that Farwerck was much inspired by Wirth.
Wirth’s life is on some ways similar to that of Farwerck. He had the means to study in his native country the Netherlands and abroad. He had steep rises and deep falls. He was born in Utrecht, not too far from where Farwerck lived, four years before Farwerck. Wirth spent most of his life in Germany, but his studies and lectures were usually about the Netherlands. Even his dissertation was about Dutch folksong.
The Dutch Wikipedia (17) says: “In 1919 richtte Wirth in Nederland een Völkische Bewegung op.” (‘In 1919 Wirth started a “Folkish Movement” in the Netherlands’). The capitals suggest that this is the name of an organisation. There is a biography of Wirth (18) that says nothing of this. The author of that biography, Van Gilst, does mention that in 1920 Wirth founded a “Wandervögel” type youth group for students, so this was a nature-loving, anti-industrialism, romantic group with interest in folklore. Van Gilst also mentions Wirth lecturing in the Netherlands. This could be a time in which Farwerck and Wirth met, even though I have no proof that they ever did. It would be strange if they did not, seeing their similar interests.
Wirth also gave a lecture for the Fries Genootschap (‘Frisian Society’) in 1922 and the archeologist Bellen also had contacts there. Could he and Farwerck have gone to listen?
In 1935 Wirth found help with Heinrich Himmler to start the Ahnenerbe. In 1937 he was removed. Farwerck is mentioned to have been in contact with the Ahnenerbe on behalf of the Der Vaderen Erfdeel group from the same year on. Not with Wirth though, but there is another tiny Wirth / Farwerck connection there.
Farwerck seldom refers to non-scholarly books, but in spite of the fact that Wirth had mostly enemies in academic circles, Farwerck does seem to have thought that Wirth was a credible enough source. At least Farerck knew people in more ‘speculative’ circles and the above suggests that his ‘German interests’ could have sprouted from such ‘speculative’ circles.
Farwerck has been a member of the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (‘National-Socialist Movement’, from here on NSB) from 1932 to 1940, not too long. Yet this is the period of his life he is best known for and which is best documented. This documentation gives, in a way, the best insight into the mind of the man.
In 1931 the NSB was founded by Anton Mussert (1894-1946) and Cornelis van Geelkerken (1901-1976). The NSB had one leader: Mussert. The organisation even became some sort of Mussert cult.
It seems that the founder of the NSB (Mussert), a Rotary Club member, approached another Rotary Club member to ask Farwerck (also member) to contact Mussert. Mussert was looking for a head of “Division 3” (propaganda). Mussert and Farwerck soon became friends, but did not know that they had been watched by a variety of people from the start. Farwerck ‘invested’ a whopping ƒ 100.000,- (well over $ 50.000,-!) in Mussert’s organisation.
According to De SS en Nederland (‘SS and the Netherlands’) (6) Farwerck was active in the NSB from 1932. This is interesting for several reasons. A year prior he left the Ario-Germaansche Genootschap possibly because of its politics, so how comes that he joins an obviously political party now? Also it explains hardships in the end of his ‘Masonic carreer’ (about which later).
It could be because he encounted people with similar “folkish” ideas as his own that Farwerck joined the NSB. De SS en Nederland (6) says that Evert Jan Roskam (1892-1974) may have been the first “folkish” thinker in the NSB “Farwerck was undoubtedly the instigator and activator” of this line of thinking. He gathered a group of “folkish” people, often called ‘the Farwerck group’ by later authors. This group was not really interested in the political side of the NSB and was frowned upon by the majority of the movement. They were influential though, not in the last place because Farwerck and Mussert were on very good terms.
Farwerck remained on the background. “His surroundings found him unfathomable, a puzzling sfinx. The appearance of the somewhat secretive man with his Mephisopholes-like beard supported this” (6).
Farwerck and his group were critical towards the direction of the NSB, but also within the group Farwerck proved not only to have friends.
Already in 1934, people critical towards the direction of the NSB for other reasons that the group around Farwerck (they were even more radical than the official NSB line), published a newspaper advertisement naming Farwerck as a Freemason. In 1935 a more serious publication was put out (“Zwart Front” or ‘Black Front’) exposing Farwerck as a Freemason. The authors had received a Masonic publication listing Farwerck’s Masonic functions. In the same year another advertisement was used to ask some questions to Mussert, a few of those were about Farwerck.
In 1937 an Ahnenerbe-like organisation called “Der Vaderen Erfdeel” (which translates to something like ‘the fathers’ inheritance’ which could very well be a reference to “Ahnenerbe” or ‘heritage of the ancestors’) was founded. This was lead by Jan Nachenius (1890-1987), but in practice was headed by Farwerck. This was actually a ‘demotion’ from his position of head of propaganda after Farwerck insulted Mussert with a thoughtless action, but it possibly lived up very well to Farwerck’s aspirations.
There was a publication called “Wolfsangel” (‘wolf angle’) would later (1938) be called “Der Vaderen Erfdeel” and again later (1939 when Farwerck had been removed) “Volksche Wacht” (‘folkish guard’). Der Vaderen Erfdeel also published books, two by Farwerck. Der Vaderen Erfdeel got a different name when Farwerck left the NSB (see later) and things got more radical. The new organisation was called “Volksche Werkgemeenschap” (‘folkish work community’) (and again later “Germaansche Werkgemeenschap” (‘Teutonic work community’)) and the publishing branch was renamed to “Hamer” (‘hammer’). From then on most publications were strictly political.
Within the NSB there were a lot of councils, political, Catholic, Protestant, education, etc. Farwerck tried to keep the very different groups within the NSB busy and separated. He also made such a group for himself, a “council for folk culture” which was not political.
Farwerck had made problems with rapidly rising star within the NSB, Meinoud Rost van Tonningen (1894-1945). Rost was more radical, more Germany-centered and wanted to direct the NSB into a much more radical course. Farwerck opposed Rost van Tonningen’s antisemitism and called him “my biggest enemy”. Farwerck was on good foot with the leader, but pressure from Germany led Mussert into a difficult position.
In Germany Masonic lodges had long been forbidden (we will come back to that) and Germany wanted the Netherlands to follow in these politics. This was a perfect situation for Rost van Tonningen to solve the Farwerck problem, Farwerck whom had long been accused of being a Mason, but Mussert never wanted to look into that.
When Mussert was to meet Hitler in Berlin, Rost van Tonningen used information that he got from Rost Dahmen von Buchholz (the father of his secretary) about Farwerck’s membership of Freemasonry and saw to it that this information reached Germany before Mussert did. Mussert had no choice but to call a search of Farwerck’s house where a Masonic letter was found, the perfect argument to let go of Farwerck. This was in the year 1940.
Afterwards it was said that Mussert found Farwerck’s “Völkisch” approach too fluffy anyway.
Farwerck’s NSB membership also brought him troubles with his neighbors especially when big plates with NSB advertisements appeared in his yard. He told Polak that this was not his own idea, but they sure made bad blood. In spite of that, he kept living in the same house, also when he was forced out of the NSB and also after the war.
After the war, Farwerck was investigated to see if he needed to be persecuted. He was thoroughly investigated by Meijer Polak who not only interviewed Farwerck himself, but also neighbors, NSB members and even Germans. It never came to persecution. According to a neighbor (to Polak) because of his health (which was not so bad that he could not work in the garden). The same neighbor said that years after the war Farwerck started to be visited by ex-NSB people after their detentions!
Using the pseudonym F. van Schoping (a reference to the birthplace of his father, Schöppingen?), Farwerck published his more political writings. I have found only two of these, just one of them to read. In this Het Volksche Element in het Nationaal-Socialisme (‘the folkish element in National-Socialism’ 1937) Farwerck displays his ideas on “Bolshevism”, globalisation, the loss of traditional roles in society (like that of the woman), liberalism, etc. He does speak of “race”, “purity of race” and the like, but apparently not strongly enough for some people.
Strangely enough the second political work was only published in 1941 when Farwerck had already left the NSB. I have not been able to find much information about the publisher “Volk en Bodem” (‘folk and soil’). The publisher seems to have been established around that time.
Shortly I want to say something about ‘the question of the Jews’. Hoogenboom suggests that both Mussert and Farwerck were not antisemitic in the beginning, but did start to adopt some such ideas later on. The early NSB had Jews as members and one of them supposedly asked Farwerck for help when he sensed the rise of antisemitism. Farwerck wrote to Mussert that many NSB-members did not act according the information of “Brochure IV”. This brochure speaks about three kinds of Jews. Dutchmen who happen to be Jews, strict orthodox Jews and Jews who are against National Socialism. The first two kinds were not a problem and they could be members of the NSB. The last group was a problem, since they would not fit in the state that the NSB had in mind. As a side note, the next chapter says that National Socialist Freemasons were not a problem either. I would not be surprised if this brochure was from the pen of the head of propaganda, Farwerck.
It is also known that Farwerck and some of his colleagues were annoyed by the tone of some texts in newspapers such as Volk en Vaderland (‘folk and fatherland’). Furthermore it is clear that some publications became much more radical after Farwerck was forced out of the NSB.
On the other hand, the wife of a Jewish Masonic colleague asked for Farwerck’s expulsion from the order just before he left himself. More about that below.
My guess is that he had ideas that did not fall too well with ‘the common folk’, but which were not ‘strong’ enough for his political colleagues. A German letter from the time of the search of his house, uses Farwerck’s Masonic membership to connect him to Jewish bankers, Moscow and “the second internationale” (a socialist workers party).
A funny sidenote makes an advertisement for a performance with Rost van Tonningen doing acrobatics on a wire and Farwerck did the choreography. Speaking of fun and pun, I also found a Farwerck cartoon.
I will come back to the subject above, but first I am going to continue with the next subject.
Now comes the -to me- most interesting part of the story, but we have to jump back in time. As we saw, Farwerck was a Freemason. More correct it is to say that he has been one, since he (supposedly) left the lodge when he joined the NSB in 1932, because he had figured out himself that this was an impossible combination. There is something weird to the story though. Farwerck did not just join the biggest Dutch Masonic order, the “regular” and men-only Grand Orient of the Netherlands, even in his hometown there had been a Grand Orient lodge since 1896. Instead he joined a much smaller and mixed gender organisation and a lodge in another (yet nearby) town. How did that come about? How much more libertarian and egalitarian than mixed gender Freemasonry do you want to get it? Did Farwerck develop the ideas exposed in his political writing during his time in mixed gender Freemasonry or did he have them before and somehow managed to balance between these two extremes?
To Polak he said:
In the Netherlands Masonry keeps away from all political interference and mainly occupies itself with spiritual matters. The idea that one has to work for the fellow man, which lives in Freemasonry, I hoped to be able to practice in the NSB. (7)
Farwerck wanted to improve the lives of his workers and he joined Freemasonry, the Rotary and even the NSB to help his fellow man! Idealism or naivety?
Back to Freemasonry. Let me start with a little history of mixed gender Freemasonry.
The mixed Masonic order Le Droit Humain appeared in France in 1893 and in 1904 the first Dutch(wo)men were initiated. The first lodge (Cazotte) followed in 1905. In the year that Farwerck got his first appointment as director (1911) a lodge was founded Laren, “Christiaan Rosenkreutz”. This was the same year that Farwerck was initiated (1911 and not, as I previously stated following the Dutch Wikipedia, 1918). He joined that very lodge. As a matter of fact, his authograph appear below the request for a charter, so it appears he was initiated, passed and raised in a “triangle” (lodge in the making) and after that, help to found the lodge. Some meetings took place at his house when his lodge had no place to meet.
A little digging made clear that both Farwerck’s brother Willy and his wife Johanna were also members of Le Droit Humain. Both joined years after Franz though, his brother in 1917 (Franz was Worshipful Master in that year, did he initiate his brother?) and Johanna in 1921. Willy reached the 32º, it seems that Johanna sticked to the so-called “blue degrees” (the first three).
Johanna Farwerck-Borrius is mentioned in the dissertation The politics of Divine Wisdom of Herman de Tollenaere (1996) (8), a text about the influence of women in the Theosophical Society. Franz Farwerck happens to be mentioned in the book too!
Theosophist Selleger was the Dutch Paper Manufacturers Association’s chairman. TS [Theosophical Society] leader Cochius was presiding director of the Leerdam glass-works. Another director of that firm, the Hilversum industrialist F.E. Farwerck figured prominently in the Dutch TS and co-masonry. Military, clergy, and judiciary Officers and their wives and children were strongly represented in Theosophical Society membership.
Apparently Farwerck “figured prominently in the Dutch TS”. Early mixed gender Freemasonry in the Netherlands (as in most countries) was a ‘very Theosophical project’. Annie Besant (president of the international Theosophical Society) helped to found the first lodges. Besant did not want to use the atheistic ritual of the first Le Droit Humain lodges, but probably used the English Emulation ritual as basis for her own.
If Farwerck indeed was involved in the Theosophical Society, this may explain why he opted for mixed gender Freemasonry. I never really noticed that Farwerck had ‘a Theosophical sauce’ and I am quite versed in Theosophical literature. I quickly scanned some works and Farwerck was certainly no unthinking follower of Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891) and co. He is even quite critical about the evolution theory so highly acclaimed by Theosophists. During his time as head of the Dutch Le Droit Humain (about which later) he even took quite a firm stance against Theosophical elements in some rituals. It may even not be a coincidence that Farwerck only joined Le Droit Humain when the first lodge with a non-Theosophical lodge was founded.
A fact is, though, that when you search the internet for Farwerck’s publications, many, even the most obscure, can be found in the Dutch Theosophical library in Amsterdam.
Willy (Carl Wilhelm) Farwerck does refer to Blavatsky in the only writing of his that I found, his long essay in the Bouwsteenen periodical (again, see below). This text also shows him to be fairly well-read in similar subjects as his brother. The text is well-written too. Willy also was ‘spiritually inclined’. The Royal Library in The Hague (Netherlands) has a few letters Willy exchanged with “parapsychologist” Georges Zorab. As we saw before, Hoogendoorn also said that Franz had an interest in ‘things spiritual’.
There are other things to shortly look at. The man Cochius that is mentioned in the quote from The Politics Of Divine Wisdom, was one of the persons who started the Rotary Club in Hilversum together with Farwerck and he also lead the Arnhem Theosophical lodge from 1905 to 1923. Farwerck need not have known Cochius before he joined Le Droit Humain of course. Somehow, the Theosophy<>co-Masonry link seems a valid one to explain Farwerck’s choice even when he obviously did not want a mix between the two.
A little bit more about mixed gender Freemasonry.
The first mixed gender lodge in the Netherlands (Cazotte) consisted of seven Theosophists. One of them was H.J. van Ginkel who was initiated by Annie Besant herself. Even though he was a Theosophist, Van Ginkel thought that Theosophy should not be brought into the lodge. Therefor he started the first mixed gender lodge (Christiaan Rosenkreutz) that was to adopt a non-Theosophical ritual written by himself in 1915. Van Ginkel edited the ritual of Annie Besant for that project. Later on the Supreme Council of Le Droit Humain in Paris (the international headquarters) also decided to diminish the Theosophical influence and opposed other rituals on their lodges. This caused the first schism within the order. In the Netherlands three lodges split off, including Cazotte, making Christiaan Rosenkreutz the oldest Le Droit Humain lodge today. Ironically, by the time Farwerck led the organisation, Le Droit Humain again had multiple rituals. Farwerck not only tried to prevent Theosophical rituals to return (unsuccessfully), but he was also critical towards the original Besant ritual and Van Ginkel’s modifications.
Van Ginkel and J.F. Duwaer (with whom he cooperated in several projects) started a publishing company which was to become the house publisher of Le Droit Humain Netherlands. The name varies a bit, but it was called “N.V. Maçonnieke Uitgevers Maatschappij” (‘Masonic publishing company’). This publisher was to print several works of Farwerck, mostly under pseudonym, the obviously Masonic “B.J. van der Zuylen” (‘B.J. of the Pillars’) and “F.E.F.”, pen names that Farwerck also used in the official Bulletin and the periodical Bouwsteenen (‘building blocks’). The same company published the little book of Farwerck’s sister in law and the article of Willy Farwerck.
Again Farwerck’s star rose quickly. 6,5 Years after his initiation he had reached the 30º. In 1922 he got the 33º and soon became Grand Commander, head of the ‘high degrees’, which in the system of Le Droit Humain means: head of the Federation. In 1924 he was also member of the Supreme Council. Willy Farwerck was active within the ‘high degrees’ too, his wife seems to have not been.
During his years within Le Droit Humain Farwerck was an active man. He held lectures in his own and other lodges, he was a member of several lodges, a couple of them he seems to have co-founded: Ken Uzelven (‘know yourself’) (Utrecht, 1919), Broedertrouw (‘brother’s loyalty’) (Amersfoort, 1921), Goethe Zum Flammenden Stern (‘Goethe to the flaming star’) (1921, Frankfurt Am Main) and Hiram Abif (Amsterdam, 1925). Carl Wilhelm and Johanna have also both been initiated in Christiaan Rosenkreutz and have also been members of Hiram Abif. Of the mentioned lodges in the Netherlands none lived long. Only Ken Uzelven would later relived and still exists today.
In 1927 Farwerck published his first book by the earlier mentioned publishing house. It was called Mysteriën en Inwijdingen in de Oudheid. (‘Mysteries and Initiations In Antiquity’). According to the Ritman Library (4), the cover was designed by Stefan Schlesinger (1896-1944), an Austrian Jew who came to live in the Netherlands. Schlesinger would also design Farwerck’s Masonic ex-libris and the cover of his first book in the same year. Schlesinger was married to Anna (Be) Kerdijk (1882-1944). Both Schlesinger and Kerdijk were members of Le Droit Humain. Schlesinger seems to have been initiated, passed and raised in order to help start the lodge Vertrauen in Wien/Vienna in 1922. Kerdijk was already member when the Dutch federation was started. Later both were members of the lodge Georges Martin III. Schlesinger and Kerdijk appear to have been involved in the founding of the short-lived lodge Ars Regia (1927-1934) of which Schlesinger is Worshipful Master and Kerdijk Orator in 1927.
Later on I will extensively quote the book Broeders en Zusters: Honderd jaar Gemengde Vrijmetselarij (9), but for now it suffices to say that the author shortly mentions Kerkdijk saying: “Sister A. Kerdijk, who was married to an Austrian jew, already in 1932 asked for the dismissal of Brother Farwerck. She was not jewish herself, but wore the Star of David out of solidarity, when her husband was obliged to wear it. Both died in a German concentration camp.” (11)
Apparently, Farwerck did not immediately leave the lodge when he got active within the NSB!
I found a somewhat odd announcement of a “Teutonic Midwinter-Solstice festivity” organised by Christiaan Rosenkreutz and two other lodges and the “Kelto-Germaanschen Studiekring “Uggdrasil”” (‘Celto-Teutonic study circle “Uggrasil”’) of August Heyting who was mentioned above in Hilversum on May 4 1933. Did Farwerck try to push the lodge in a ‘heathen direction’? It was ‘but’ a reading though. See advertisement.
Farwerck published under different names. During his Masonic years he an active writer. I have found nine titles between around 1927 and around 1933, see the bibliography.
And then the war came…
When things started to run in an unwanted direction in Germany, Farwerck was Grand Commander of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain. Le Droit Humain in Germany was too small to have its own federation, so the few German lodges fell under the Dutch federation. In 1933 all German lodges (not just those of Le Droit Humain) were forced to close, the regime forbade Masonic practice. The material of the German lodges of Le Droit Humain was sent to the Netherlands to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Anxious about these events, in May 1933, the Worshipful Master of a Dutch lodge asked the Grand Commander to shed some light on the situation and the possible consequences for the Netherlands. Farwerck proved himself to be very naive! He wrote a lengthy article in the Bulletin of Le Droit Humain Netherlands. (The following quotes are from the book of Ank Engel (10), the untranslated texts can be found in the notes).
The new spirit spreading over Europe, has a negative and a positive side. Without the least of a judgement, we can conclude that the currents, which appear to us under the name of Fascism or National Socialism, are directed against the Marxist concept of class struggle and internationalisation of the proletariat against the liberal conception of freedom and a national collaboration of all classes of society with a subordination of individual freedom to the interests of the whole nation. (12)
From the same article:
A National Socialist Movement may be successful in countries such as Italy or Germany, but we see things in the Netherlands more soberly, we do not overheat so quickly. Moreover, we do not like ‘import’ and are the Netherlands not the classic country of “freedom”? Why worry about something that surely will not happen? (13)
With Farwerck as the highest authority in the organisation, it is likely that the national council agreed with his reply. The editors of the Bulletin did not and they replied critically. In reply to this, Farwerck even managed to write:
Also in the fascist state people have the freedom to develop as they want, think what they want, act as they like, provided that the act (and the act alone) is not contrary to the public interest. In other words, ones freedom should not come before the individual interests at the expense of others. Also this concept of freedom is in accordance with with the Masonic ‘concept of service’. On this ground there is therefore no reason for a hostile attitude against Freemasonry. (14)
In Russia, the lodges are not allowed to exist. In Germany they have dismantled themselves, but some Masonic journals still appear, apparently without hindrance. (15)
Needless to say that Farwerck was to be proven very wrong. Also in the Netherlands lodges were ransacked, buildings confiscated and torn apart or housed with German soldiers. Like we saw, Farwerck left the lodge in 1934, but some people think he used his position in the NSB to help spare lodges of Le Droit Humain. Compared to the Grand Orient of the Netherlands (whose Grand Master of the time died in a camp!), lodges of Le Droit Humain were relatively untouched.
As we saw above, soon after Farwerck joined the NSB, people started to complain about his continuing membership of Freemasonry. Did he only leave on paper, did he not leave at all, or were rumors used to get rid off him? I earlier mentioned a letter that was the direct cause of Farwerck’s dismissal from the NSB. This “friendly letter of the National Council of Freemasonry” (Engel) proved that Farwerck still had contact. Engel also quotes the goodbye speech of Farwerck’s follow-up who says that in september 1933 Farwerck laid down his function as Grand Commander, but he remained vice-chairman of the Supreme Council. It is not clear for how long he did so, but his lodge announced his resignation on April 12th 1934. The letter is addressed to Willy Farwerck who was Grand Secretary at the time. The discharge was honorable.
There is something else. Brother Carl (or Willy) is a lot less in the limelight so there is a lot less information about him, but he does seem to have been a member of the NSB as well. Also, when the German forces came to power, he was of the opinion that Freemasonry did not fit in the new regime. He proposed dismantlement of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain, but when the National Council declined his proposition, he left for that very reason in 1940 together with brother and sister Meerwijk. Five members of the lodge Hiram Abiff did the same, but the name of Carl’s wife, Johanna, is not under either request for dismissal. It is not like they divorced or anything. Carl passed away in 1964, Johanna in 1992. In her obituary she was named the widow of C.W. Farwerck.
In April 1968 Franz (79 years old) saw something on television that reminded him of his years as a Freemason. He wrote to Le Droit Humain, basically to ask if he could come back. The answer was negative. He tried again in June, July and August of the same year, with the same result. This did not prevent the Grand Commander of the time to write a positive review of Farwerck’s post-mortem published book. Apparently it was Farwerck’s spoiled past (or his person, maybe people who knew him were still member) that was the reason to decline the request.
What is also remarkable is that in the 1940’ies, so years after Farwerck left, the Masonic publishing company republished an earlier article in the form of a booklet (Symboliek see bibliography).
Odd or not, but it was after the end of both his Masonic and political careers, that Farwerck avidly started to publish. The ‘first version’ of his life’s work was published in 1953 on his own publishing house Thule (even though one review says that people who are interested could get the book from the publisher, using the feminine version of the word). Noord-Europese Mysteriën en Inwijdingen in de Oudheid (‘Northern-European Mysteries and Initiations in antiquity’). He even kept his old Masonic pseudonym. In the same year he (also on Thule) published another book and two years later yet another, one with a thin Masonic connection, the other purely about prechristian Masonic symbolism and aimed at Freemasons. Another book about initiation saw the light of day in 1960 and, as mentioned, his magnum opus Noordeuropese mysteriën en hun sporen tot heden (‘Northern European mysteries and their traces to the present’) was published just after he died (1970). According to the publisher he was still able to approve of the test-prints. Mission accomplished! The book was first published by Kluwer, later a son from the Kluwer family founded the publishing house Ankh-Hermes and he reprinted the book slightly expanded (an index was added), with a slightly different cover and on ticker paper in 1978.
Also Farwerck did not lose his ‘folkloristic’ and historical interests. In 1950 and 1954 he still lectures. The first lecture is about prehistory, the second lecture was for an archeological group about North-European mummies with “light-images” and a few years earlier, he helps to start an archeological group. At the age of 67 he started writing for a periodical called Nehalennia (after a Dutch Germano-Celtic sea Goddess), a historical and folkloristic publication which continued for six years. Some say it was Farwerck’s own magazine. It was indeed published by Thule. More about the periodical and collaborators here. In 1960 he gave a lecture for a genealogical group and early and late March 1965 he gave another two lectures. The first about rock carvings in Sweden, the second about “The Spiritual World of our Ancestors”. At the time he was 76 years old.
On my searches for information I frequently run into a list of an auction of Farwerck’s library. Since I could not find a copy for myself, I decided to go to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (‘Royal Library’) in Den Haag to see it. A man’s library can say a lot about that person. The list proved to be not an item that you can just take from a shelf and photocopy. It is stored in the department “Special Collections” and you can only see it with nothing more than a pencil and piece of paper with you. So my hope to photocopy it was soon gone.
The catalogue proved to be a well printed and bound paperback book. From 1971, so why is this a “Special Collections” item? The book itself says nothing about the fact that the items under auction used to belong to Franz Farwerck. By the look of it, it could have been any auction. Some titles I can well understand used to be owned by Farwerck. A few titles I recognised since they are sold with Farwerck’s ex-libris in it (for high prices) and I doubt the library would give faulty information. So let us assume that it was indeed a catalogue of books that used to belong to Farwerck. What can the catalogue tell us?
The auction was on May 25th and 26th 1971, so three years after his death. The catalogue is 110 pages and lists 1526 titles. Of course it is impossible to say if this was Farwerck’s entire library. Perhaps it was just what was left of it at the time. A thing I noticed is that there were hardly any expensive items in the list. Farwerck was an art collector who seems to have had the means for his passions. The 1940 fire might have destroyed his books of that time, but he had a couple of decades to start a new collection.
The catalogue has a table of contents. The numbers refer to the number of the item (book) under auction, so you can see how many books Farwerck owned about what subjects:
- Belief and superstition (1 – 189);
- Theology (184 – 255);
- Antiquity (256 – 416);
- Reference (417 – 429);
- Bibliography, typography (430 – 482);
- Philosophy and literature (484 – 765);
- Fine art (766 – 928);
- Hunting and shooting (929 – 997);
- Militaria (998 – 1039);
- History, politics, geography (1040 – 1173);
- The Netherlands (1174 – 1301);
- Varia (1302 – 1526).
The first lemet has a sub-header called “Teutonism” with 29 titles. Not that many when you think about how much Farwerck wrote about that subject. He did own the 1956/7 version of Jan de Vries’ Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte and “nine works” of the same author (apparently not interesting enough to name in full). I found only one title of Georges Dumézil, who I thought had quite some impact on Farwerck’s thinking. Also noteworthy is the fact that I saw only a handful books about Freemasonry. These are from different obediences.
Further Farwerck owned a Festugière translation of the Corpus Hermeticum, a few books of authors such as Arthur Waite and Oswald Wirth. A book of Stephan Schlesinger (who designed his Masonic ex libris), which has been translated and published in the periodical De Swastika (translator unknown, but Farwerck does not seem to have been involved in this prerunner of Bouwsteenen).
Mostly striking I found the vast amount of books on (and from!) early Christian Theology, many titles in Latin. Also under the header “Antiquity” are many titles in Latin. Also Farwerck appears to have had no problems with French and German. Besides Theology there are a few books on mysticism, from old to relatively modern such as Karl von Eckartshausen.
Farwerck owned a lot of ‘books about books’ and books about literature, also about poetry and philosophy, but on the other hand, he also had 50 Medieval texts, usually not originals.
The most expensive title in the catalogue is a 17th century “velum” of a 14th century manuscript called Arda’et (Teachings Of Christ) in an extremely luxury version.
So, did Farwerck loose many / most / all his titles on heathenry and Freemasonry in the 1940 fire and on rebuilding his library his interests had shifted, or would indeed an enormous part of his library never found its way into his writings?
His library sure shows Farwerck to be an intelligent man with varied interest who read in a variety of (classical) languages.
The “Hunting and Shooting” and “Militaria” parts of the auction list contain nothing shocking. Perhaps his WWII library has been cleaned out, or perhaps Farwerck indeed thought to see other things in a part of the movement of that time.
A last remark: only a few of his own books are listed in the catalogue!
In some of the Masonic correspondence that I have seen, mention is made of Farwerck’s health problems. The same subject is mentioned in his post-war investigation. His health would even have been a reason to not persecute him. One mention of this problem was before his 30th birthday. This suggests that this may have been a life long struggle. I have found nothing of the nature of the problems yet, but he lived almost 80 years with them.
Nothing I can find about Farwerck’s possible faith. Living in the Netherlands where he did, some form of Protestantism would be logical. In his first book he mentions “the beautiful symbolism of the Catholic church”, but other than that, I never encountered any clues. Neither do his works obviously show his activities in Theosophical circles, so I guess he wanted to keep these things for himself. He praises “heathenry”, but I would be surprised if that was more than an interest. Yet there was the Midwinter celebration lecture of his former lodge. In 2003 a thesis was published by M. Eickhoff (16). He describes Farwerck as a radical, anti-semite and he describes how the Der Vaderen Erfdeel group visited an Ahnenerbe harvest celebration and German sites such as the Hermannsdenkmal and the Externsteine and says: “The visit of the Externsteine will certainly have been an intense religious experience for the members of Der Vaderen Erfdeel”, thus suggesting that the group had more than academic interests. Also he says that Farwerck used the term “Neuheidnische Richting” to describe his folkish ideas for the NSB.
On the other hand, perhaps Freemasonry was (or used to be?) perfect for Farwerck. Spirituality without faith or dogma.
On May 22 1968 Franz passed away. He left behind the widow of his brother (Johanna) and her sons and partners in France and Hilversum.
You may wonder how Farwerck’s many works were received during his life and after he passed away. I have found several advertisements drawing attention to his works. Especially the prices are highly amusing (I have listed them in the bibliography when available). There were also newspaper articles such as reviews of Levend Verleden in Utrechts Nieuwsblad October 10 1938. Also Masonic periodicals sometimes had attention for his works, such as the De Vrijmetselaar (‘The Freemason’) in 1953 (Noord-Europese Mysteriën en Inwijdingen in de Oudheid) and 1956 (Noord-Europa een der Bronnen van de Maçonnieke Symboliek). The remarks are always that Farwerck’s approach is “(very) interesting”. Also his last book got some positive reviews (in fact, I have not seen any negative reviews, except reviews speaking of Farwerck’s political past).
And here ends my story about Franz Farwerck. For now at least. I hope to find more sources to investigate. If I will, I will update the above again.
In the navigation above you can find links to some images. I have found only three photos of Franz Farwerck, all are from his military time. In the top navigation you can find the bibliography with titles of texts/books by Farwerck as far as I know them. I do not own all these texts (yet!). There is still some work to be done. Below you can find the notes.
Franz Farwerck was a zealous man which brought him to some heights, but because he tried to ‘play multiple games of chess’, he also fell deep and hard. This did not prevent him from keep doing what he had in mind: to write a comprehensive investigation about the Teutonic mysteries and show that these mysteries survived into our own day and age.
(1) Tapijtfabrikant en Dominee (‘Carpet manufacturer and clergyman’) by Hans Hoogenboom in Eigen Perk (‘Own perk’) 2015/3, a publication of the Hilversumse Historische Kring (‘Historic circle Hilversum’). The text is available online (PDF) when I write this;
(2) The autobiography of Inayat Khan can be found on several places on the internet. Here is a link to the passages referred to;
(3) “Mijn belangstelling voor de menselijke rassen werd opgewekt toen ik zestien jaar was, toen ik in een museum de overblijfselen van praehistorische mensen zag. Sindsdien heb ik alle mogelijke wetenschappelijke publicaties hierover bestudeerd. Geleidelijk kwam ik op het standpunt dat de erfelijkheid een grote rol speelde in de menselijke aard en wat daaruit voortvloeide”. Quoted in (1)
(4) Ritman Library had a Hermetic ex-libris exposition. Farwerck had one with an ouroboros and this Facebook post (available when I write this) has some useful information;
(5) Volgens Kapitein Bellen (‘according to Captain Bellen’), Henk M. Luning 2013, Sidestone Press;
(6) De SS en Nederland, documenten uit de SS archieven 1935-1945 deel I, published 1976, available online when I write this.
(7) “In Nederland onthoudt de maçonnerie zich van elke politieke inmenging en houdt zich in hoofdzaak met geestelijke problemen bezig. De gedachte dat men voor zijn medemens moest werken, welke gedachte in vrijmetselarij leeft, dacht ik in praktijk te kunnen brengen in de NSB.
(8) Correspondentie van mr. M.M. Rost van Tonningen deel I, published 1967, available online when I write this.
(9) The politics of Divine Wisdom 1996 Herman de Tollenaere, available online when I write this.
(10) Broeders en Zusters: Honderd jaar Gemengde Vrijmetselarij, published in 2004 to celebrate a century of Le Droit Humain in the Netherlands, written by Ank Engel (then Grand Archivist).
(11) “Zuster A. Kerdijk, die met een Oostenrijkse jood was getrouwd, vroeg al in 1932 om het ontslag van Broeder Farwerck. Zij was zelf niet joods, maar droeg de davidsster uit solidariteit, toen haar man verplicht werd hem te dragen. Beiden stierven in een Duits concentratiekamp.” (p. 51)
(12) “De nieuwe geest, die over Europa waait, heeft een negatieve en een positieve zijde. Zonder er in het minst een beoordeling aan vast te knopen kunnen we dan constateren, dat de stromingen, die zich onder de naam Fascisme of Nationaal-Socialisme aan ons vertonen, gericht zijn tegen de marxistische gedachte van klassenstrijd en internationale verbroedering van het proletariaat, tegen de liberale opvatting van het begrip vrijheid en voor een nationale samenwerking van alle klassen en standen der maatschappij met een ondergeschikt maken van de individuele vrijheid aan de belangen van de gehele natie.” (Engel p. 47)
(13) “Een nationaal-socialistische stroming mag dan in landen als Italië en Duitsland succes hebben, wij Nederlanders bezien de dingen nuchter, lopen niet zo gauw warm. Bovendien, wij houden niet van ‘import’ en is Nederland niet het klassieke land van de ‘vrijheid’? Waarom ons hier dan bezorgd maken over iets dat toch niet zal gebeuren?”
(14) “Men heeft ook in de fascistische staat de vrijheid om zich te ontplooien, zoals men wil, te denken wat men wil, te handelen zoals men wil, mits dat handelen (en dan ook dat handelen alleen) niet tegen het algemeen belang ingaat. Met andere woorden, men mag de vrijheid niet vóór het individueel belang ten koste van anderen misbruiken. Ook dit vrijheidsbegrip is geheel met het maçonnieke ‘dienstbegrip’ in overeenstemming. Ook op deze grond is er dus geen reden voor de vijandige houding, die tegen de Vrijmetselarij wordt aangenomen.”
(15) “In Rusland mogen de loges niet bestaan. In Duitsland hebben ze zichzelf ontbonden, maar een aantal maçonnieke tijdschriften verschijnt nog, blijkbaar zonder belemmeringen.”
(16) De oorsprong van het ‘eigene’. Nederlands vroegste verleden, archeologie en nationaal-socialisme (‘The origin of the ‘own’. Dutch earliest history, archeology and national-socialism’) by M. Eickhoff 2003, p. 242
(17) https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Wirth accessed 10/7/2019
(18) Herman Wirth by A.P. van Gilst, 2006 Aspekt
(19) See here (look for Farwerck)
last update: 16/8/2019