Wolnosc Odzyskana (Freedom Restored) Lodge No 10 in Poland
An Internet Lodge Member living in Chelm (Helm) in the east of Poland close to the old Russian border along with other Polish Masons and a French brother resident in Lublin formed a triangle with the dream of reforming a French Lodge in the Vovodship of Lublin, Lodge Wolnosc Odzyskana (Volnosh Odsiskana). The triangle to reform Wolnosc Odzyskana was established in March 2007 and the Lodge re consecrated on the 4th of October 2008 in only 17 months which will raise an eyebrow or two amongst the founders who went through the birthing process of Internet Lodge and anyone else who has gone through this birthing process.
Free Masonry was first established in the Lublin area in 1733 and the Grand Lodge of Poland has been in existence since the early 1780's. Wolnosc Odzyskana was formed in 1784 and first Master was Polish General Ludwik Kamieniect. The Lodge was closed in 1820 nearly 200 years ago by Walerian Lukasinski (Valarian Wukashinski) a Polish hero of the post Napolionic period who lost his life imprisoned in Siberia for his unshaken fidelity to his country. Lukasinski a member of Wolnosc Odzyskana closed the Lodges transforming Free Masonry in Poland dissolving the Lodges into a resistance movement defending an invasion
For those of you who don't know of Internet Lodge it belongs in the Province of East Lancs. It has it's installations in Manchester but meets by dispensation all over the country for the others. Their membership is world wide and they have a visit abroad each year. My involvement with Masonry in Poland started in 2004 with a visit to the Lodge Pod Szczesliwa Gwiazda Numer Shedem (under the Lucky Star No 7) in Warsaw. Along with my pal John. There I met Bro. Nick also a member of Internet Lodge.
Our involvement with Lodge Wolnosc Odzyskana started with an E mail from Nick to John who passed it on to me as at that time I was only a Yorkshire Mason. well how else could it start in Internet Lodge.
Somewhere in the following dialogue Nick asked John if he could help finding any items for a Lodge to get them started and the call was put out. Robert of East Lancs. said he could come up with some working tools, Richard a pal in Yorkshire came up with an Oak Tool Chest and I said I'd make a set of gavels and a setting maul. Then Robert informed us a lodge that had amalgamated had a set of gear in a loft. When Robert dropped it off with John at the station in New Mills John was overwhelmed, arriving home John rang me in great excitement and couldn't contain himself, he said we've got the lot, the Brethren of Coronation Lodge have set us up with everything! When it landed in my kitchen we considered the next problem, we had a big heap, tracing boards, wands, swords collars, gavels, columns, how do we get all this lot to Poland.
The next E-mail was from Lublin, an itinerary sent out by Pierre in which a French and Swedish party would land in Warsaw on Wednesday 1st Oct., Thursday visiting Warsaw, off to Lublin, tour Lublin on the Friday, Saturday the ladies would go shopping and we would consecrate the lodge and basically play Free Masonry all day. We would take our ladies for dinner in the evening and return to Warsaw on the Sunday and fly home. Now I have friends in Warsaw of 38 years standing in the form of three adopted sisters who organised an apartment for us bang in the middle of Warsaw. So we, John, my wife Sue and I decided to go two days early and leave a day late, Monday to Monday so we would all have time to meet. John and I still had a 50 odd Kilo problem to get over there and time was getting short. We were looking at how to ship it all and the possible costs. At that point Internet Lodge threw us a life line offering to help support us with the expenses also an old friend and a number of people came to the rescue of which I will say more later.
The excitement was tremendous Nick and Pierre had been working at this since early 07, producing a full itinerary and John, Sue and I since May. Finally arriving in Warsaw at our apartment was a bit of a home coming as the three of us had stayed there two years before and I can't describe the feeling walking out to supper that night at the start of our adventure. Tuesday we were tourists and in the afternoon we joined my friends at their home at Medzechyn and reminisced the years. Wednesday evening the French and Swedish party joined us to be with us for the whole trip, the whirlwind had started. You will remember the next name from the start of this paper. That evening we visited Lodge Walerian Lukasinski and were treated to an Accepted Rite Initiation and following the ceremony the French Brethren returned to their wives, whilst 3 of us stayed for the festive board, 18 of us round a table for a buffet and a glass of wine. A wonderful experience, my cup was all filled up. New friends and a reunion of Brothers, what a day.
Friday morning we were off on the coach to Lublin with the conversation flying around in French, Polish and English, accompanied with a great deal of gesticulation, what an electric experience and the effort made by all to communicate fantastic. In the afternoon John, Sue and I visited Majdanek concentration camp, a very stilling and thought provoking experience. Returning in the evening we rejoined the rest of the party for dinner in the Old Town area of Lublin.
The Consecration on Saturday was held at a theatre workshop at Gardzienice in an old palace a few miles out of town in the middle of the Polish countryside, a wonderful setting for the event and very appropriated home for the new Lodge. The anticipation and spirit of the event grew as we steadily gathered. Finally the ceremony was opened by the Grand Master and his assistants. The visitors were invited in and the consecration got underway. In due and ancient form in and with great care the Grand Master consecrated Wolnosc Odsysksna. A first for me and very interesting.
Wolnosc Odzyskana was born.
We broke for a buffet lunch and returned to install Our Brother, Nick in the Chair for which I was outside. W Bro. Nick then installed his officers and took charge of his Lodge. They then interrogated their first candidate and I mean interrogated having a series of questions put to him with long pauses and no comment made on his answers, very different, Their candidate will have no problem steadily persevering after crossing that bridge. As well as the Polish Brethren the ceremony was supported by 7 French Brethren from Nice, 2 Swedish Brothers, 2 Brothers from I nternet Lodge and myself from Yorkshire.
The now Worshipful Brother Nick then made a special presentation to express his thanks for all the support they had received from Coronation Lodge, in East Lancashire and particularly Internet Lodge. The whole event was very emotional for most of us and for many different reasons some of which I will express later but particularly for Nick and Pierre. The day concluded with a banquet at our hotel joined by our wives in Lublin with a glass of wine, an ample supply of bon amiee and Vodka.
Sunday we waved goodbye to our French pals at Warsaw airport and our Swedish pals at Kreditova who were flying a little later. John, Sue and I went to a farewell party in the Old Town for my adopted family and we flew home Monday dinner time, it was a bit like leaving home.
To understand some of the import of this event I must tell you there are only about 450 masons in Poland and in this constitution Wolnosc Odzyskana is Lodge number 10. The Grand Lodge of Poland was finally recognised by the Grand Lodge of England in 2003. Polish Masonry crept into the open in 1989. In secret Tadeuz Gliwic, Tadeuz Cegielski, Alexander Malachowski and others reformed Lodge Kopernic in 1960 bringing it in contact with Copernik in Paris in 1963. In 1939 official activities ceased and on the 7th April 1940 Lodge Kopernic surrendered its warrant and opened as Lodge Copernic No 679 under the Grande Lodge Du France. Following the war in 1945 Boleslaw Bierut head of state legalised Free Masonry, his motives were suspect and the offer was declined. A core of pre war Masons continued in secret with no initiations until 1960 and their only contact with the outside world established with their sister Lodge in Paris in 1963 finally officially affiliating in 1990. In Dec. 1991 two further Lodges were reawakened and a Grand Lodge formed on the 27th Dec. that year. They finally regularised Lodge Kopernic Under The Grande Lodge National Du France in 1992 and were finally recognised, as previously mentioned, by UGLE in 2003. That Brethren, is a long exile.
Now Warsaw Head Quarters is a house on a street built by Free Masons and they met there in secret for 50 years. The Gestapo never found them. The Russian secret police never found them. The Polish Communist Police never found them. I was taken round in 2005 and all was still props that could be quickly burnt. I was told in earlier times the Square and compasses on the Volume of the Sacred Law were paper cut outs to be eaten in the event of being detected. One brother and the son of a brother from the old days were at the consecration of Wolnosc Odzyskana.
Having arrived at the problem of some 50 odd Kilos to deliver, "Internet Lodge" came to the rescue with a support fund. I repaired a large blanket chest to pack it all in and the tracing boards were in a steel box. Sue my wife rang round to have it all export packaged to cross the borders and a local Rotherham firm was found. The lads at the freight depot enquired what is was all for and when I explained, they would not charge us and wished us every success. I then contacted an old friend and one of my Mums students Chris from 20 years ago who is an exporter for advice. The reply, "don't worry I'll sort something out". Time went by, John and I were feeling a bit urgent and on the edge of panic (we know you shouldn't). I rang Chris and had to apologised as he was in Vienna. "Don't worry" he said. Two days later an E-mail came at dinner time, "Speak to *........ Tel No. *.... and drop the Box at *.....", which was a firm the on other side of Rotherham. "The truck leaves first thing tomorrow morning". They opened at seven. We stuck labels on following instructions with a "packers inventory" that described the contents as stage props and I was parked outside at a quarter to 7 in the morning, Majid rolled up at quarter past eight. I'd left John with the headache and problem of trying to insure it. All which was achieved by dinner time. The transport firm would not take any payment, they were happy to have helped, the insurance cost £150.
All we knew was, it was our precious cargo was on it's way to Warsaw and would be there in 10 days, we didn't know how it would all get to Lublin or to Nick's in Chelm. A few E-mail's and panics later we received an E-mail from Nick to say Darek at the Warsaw distributors had been in touch, arranged a drop-off with him in Lublin a short distance away, there was no charge and wished him well.
So many lovely people in the world that just want to see a good thing happen and share in a part of it by helping it on it's way. The only expense was the insurance.
I wish to thank all the above for their interest, kindness, involvement and help. The Brethren of Coronation Lodge for their wonderful gift and pleasure that their tools will be used once again. W.Bro. Robert for oiling the wheels and finally coming up with a wonderful set of ebony and silver working tools in an oak chest so they don't gather dust in Manchester and a pair of very heavy ashlars all carted in our suit cases. Customs would have been pleased!
To Internet Lodge for the development fund giving Nick ,John and I a safety net to push it all through. For supporting our brothers abroad spreading Free Masonry and for sending something new, a beautiful engraved presentation Square and Compasses.
A special mention must be made here of W Bro. John who involved me in the quest to scrounge some gear to set up a new Lodge. Over 115 E-mail's have flown through the ether arranging it all, John pinning the title "Masonic Recycling" to it. John's unstoppable enthusiasm made this rather special thing happen. We only have opportunities!
Lastly to thank our hosts the Master of Walerian Lukasinski No 2 and his brethren for their wonderful hospitality. To the brethren of Wolnosc Odzyskana, their Master Nick and especially Pierre who together have formed a new Lodge who arranged our stay and took us everywhere.
A triangle is established and a candle lit on the eastern borders of Central Europe. May it prosper and burn brightly. Nick and his brothers extend an invitation to any who wander that way and lastly, the Lodge name for those who don't speak Polish.
Wolnosc Odzyskana translated Freedom Restored
Bro Alan Turton
Internet Lodge No 9659