Adam An-tAthair-Síoraí PDDGM
Grand Historian.

There are very few of us who can look back over the last sixty years with any degree of certainty, and certainly not the sixty years that our Grand Lodge has been in existence; we rely both on the memory of those who have gone before us, and on their collecting skills or obsessions. Much of what we know of those early days is consigned to paper, to a few remaining physical mementos, and the sometimes rambling tales recounted after a successful Communication over a good cigar, and a tipple of the finest amber liquid. The memories are, however, still there and they need to be preserved so that, when we sit down collectively to celebrate the centenary – and I am assured you will all join me on that fine occasion – we have plenty of tales to tell, lasting until late into the night, and not just from the well-known names, but also from those who worked in our individual Lodges, who selflessly made the Craft, without great personal publicity, what it is today. One of those brethren was Heinrich Brau.

Brother Heinrich was born in a time when Germany was a completely different country to what we know today, to what we can imagine from our own experience. When he was born, on the 18th of December 1893, we might almost think that Germany, and by extension Europe, was a place of peace and tranquility, where all was right with the world, and all went about their lives in harmony with the great powers of the universe. It was the following century which changed the face of Europe, twice, and which we look back upon today as an example of how things – politics, society and so on – should not be allowed to run. By the time Heinrich Brau came to be Initiated into Freemasonry, on the 8th January 1918, the western world had changed for the worse, and it was only on 11th November of that year that a certain level of stability would return. World War I was still raging, but Freemasonry could continue on its way regardless, if somewhat depleted in manpower. Initiated into the Zu den drei Ankern Lodge #394 in Bremerhaven (now within the Große Landesloge der Freimaurer von Deutschland), Brother Heinrich was Passed to Fellow Craft in January 1922, and Raised to the sublime Degree of Master Mason in March 1929. His early Masonic career covers many worldwide changes, following the War To End All Wars, and especially those of society in Germany, leading up to what we know as the Dark Period beginning in 1933.

As a Master Mason he was thrown back, as were all Masons of the time, into a period of darkness and uncertainty when faced with blanket bans, obstruction, destruction and vilification, but remained honest and true to his beliefs, as demonstrated in a talk given in later years in Bremerhaven, where he recounted being told to shut his mouth by a judge unwilling to discuss Masonry, but more than willing to condemn a man for following it. The Second World War came to an end in Europe on 8th May 1945 – and in Japan with their final surrender on 2nd September – and the work of rebuilding Europe, and European Freemasonry, began with new landscapes. Germany destroyed and split into two entities, occupied by the Allies, and with ordinances and regulations forbidding much of what had been considered normal life before the conflict. In the West many of the German Lodges, with express permission, returned to their Masonic work, and Bremerhaven was no different. Heinrich returned to his Lodge, and to a life in a society considerably different to that of his youth, now with the American military forces stationed nearby. A meeting of Masonic minds was clearly on the agenda and, as more Masons came together across Germany, and the Square and Compasses Clubs began to be formed, the chances to reaffirm the mystic tie binding all regular Masons across the world was reinforced. The North Sea Armed Forces Lodge #829 was constituted as a regular Lodge in December 1955, having worked for several years as a Masonic Club, and mutual visits, mutual opportunities to learn and advance, became more common. Brother Heinrich clearly felt very much at home in the new Lodge, first as a regular visitor, then as an Affiliated member. His Petition was read in the fledgling American Lodge in January 1956.

After an initial start in the sidelines of this young Lodge, Heinrich trusted himself enough to accept his first appointment. As important as any other position or station, he began his work as Tyler from 1958 to 1961, and advanced steadily through the ranks to become Master of the Lodge in 1969. Throughout this period, despite the set-back of having to demit from his Mother Lodge (to avoid being expelled as, at least then, accepting a position or station in another Jurisdiction was an offense against their rules), he worked ceaselessly to harbour good relations between the American and German communities, between German and American Freemasonry. Within the Lodge he assisted younger brethren as they began their journey, with his own knowledge of the Ritual, and a closeness to the brethren few have forgotten. He was appointed Grand Land Lecturer and, in April 1974, Honorary Grand Lecturer for Life. In November 1980 the Grand Lodge recognized his work further, with the Distinguished Service Award in Gold. We all have milestones in our lives, and our Brother Heinrich has lived through many more than most of us can imagine. He was a Mason from 1918 until his death in 1984, active, close to all, and always ready to assist where needed. Leaving aside the social and civilian, or familial milestones of his life, the Masonic milestones he must have looked back upon would undoubtedly have included his Initiation and advancement to the sublime Degree of Master Mason, his move to an American Lodge and continued advancement through the East, and into the ranks of Honorary Grand Lodge officials. For those around him, the milestones experienced by his fellows and brethren, by those he mentored, would have been assisted by his constant help, by his advice, his open ear, trustworthiness, and readiness to be there wherever he was needed.

In Freemasonry we tend to recall a Mason’s life of work, and then say that he has laid down his Earthly tools, gone on to work on that spiritual house in the East, not made with hands. For our Brother Heinrich, and many other Masons who have gone this way before us, it is perhaps better to retain another image in our minds: they have not laid down their Earthly tools, but placed them into the hands of others, the hands of a new generation, so that the work they have begun may be continued. In the case of Brother Heinrich, that is most certainly so.

Younger brethren, now also advanced in their years, recall his work in assisting them, in bringing the ideals of Freemasonry into their minds and lives, and have followed his teachings throughout their lives. Some to such an extent that, as the North Sea Armed Forces Lodge was recalled from its slumbers and brought back to work on its Masonic ideals, were prepared to travel hundreds of miles every month to ensure the Ritual, the Fraternity, the Community was revived and continued as, I am sure, our Brother Heinrich Brau would have wished, and would have done. As we look back on sixty years of the American Canadian Grand Lodge, in its various forms and names, we should also remember: it is the brethren who have made the Grand Lodge, who have made the Lodges, and their ceaseless efforts, as with Brother Heinrich Brau, which we should remember and be grateful for.


  1. My name is Russ Williams and I reside in WA State. My Dad, John A. Williams was a DGM with the American Canadian Grand Lodge. He passed away on Nov. 10, 2020 in Albuquerque, NM. Due to many factors I am just now attempting to manage all of his Masonic items to ensure they are respectfully passed on and/or utilized in a way that would honor his Masonic tenure and Brotherhood.

    I am requesting any guidance, assistance or direction from your organization that may be available.

    Russ Williams

    1. My Dear MR Williams, thanks for contacting us and our sincerest condolences for your loss.

      I will pass on your message to our Grand Secretary so that he can assess the informations and contact you.

      It will not take long I assure you.

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