in the 1850s. The Serbian revolution against the Ottoman rule started in 1804.
After the 1828 – 29 Ottoman war with Russia, Serbia became an autonomic
princedom in the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, while getting also Russia’s
protection. After the 1875 revolt of Bosnia Herzegovina against the Ottomans,
Serbia together with Montenegro and with the support of Russia started a war
against the Ottoman Empire. In 1878 Serbia won its complete independence, while
Bosnia-Herzegovina was annexed by Austria.
in the Ottoman Empire in the 1850s. In 1826 Mahmud II abolished the Janissaries
in a bloody confrontation, to create a modern army. The Janissaries were members
of the Bektashi sect which was banned for
this reason. As Bektashism had many similarities with freemasonry, it was also
banned and known freemasons were sent into exile. The activity of the Ali Koç
Lodge happened in this period and it is understood that the Grand Vizier(1)
supported covertly the political activities of this Lodge.
it was published in)
ILLUSTRATED FAMILY PAPERS
June 9 1855, Saturday)
IN TURKEY – Although
for the last thirty years it has been supposed that
freemasonry existed in Turkey, yet it was only about five years ago that
anything certain was ascertained on the subject. About that time a commercial
traveler, a freemason, while in Belgrade, was introduced into a Turkish lodge by
a Christian professor, and there met with a most brotherly reception. The
Turkish freemasons call themselves Dervishes, and continue to be Musulmans, but
they have the same ceremonies and the same signs as the freemasons of Europe,
and pursue the same objects of humanity and benevolence. They appear to have
raised themselves above the prejudices of Islamism, as they do not admit
polygamy, and women were present, unveiled, at the banquets of the lodges. The
Lodge of Belgrade, called Ali-kotch, is composed of seventy members. Its master,
Tzani-Ismail-Zcholak-Mehemet-Saede(3), is at the same time grand master of all
the lodges in European Turkey, and is in relation with all the lodges of the
Turkish empire, and also with those of Arabia and Persia. Those in the Ottoman
empire are numerous. Constantinople alone has nine, the most famous of which is
the Convent of the Turning Derviches of Serekedschi Tecka. In Persia the order
counts 50,000 members. The Turkish Freemasons wear, as a distinctive mark, a
small brown shawl, ornamented with different figures, and a dodecahedron of
white marble, about two inches in diameter, highly polished, and having red
spots, which signify spots of blood, and are a remembrance of Ali, who
introduced freemasonry into Turkey, and was punished with death for so doing.
Activities of the Alì Koç Lodge
the spring months of 1851, General Apel, commandant of the third army in Pest
was informed that a Masonic Lodge was established in Belgrade. He called Dr.
Levis, who was a professor at the Industrial College (School) in Pest and a
known freemason, and convinced him to bring personally a letter to General
Krajnter, commander in chief at Zemun(4). Dr. Levis brought the letter to
General Krajtner on the 9th of July. General Apel was asking for information
about the lodge installed in Belgrade, both for himself and for Vienna, its
members’ identities, excluding its humanitarian activities, its political
views and whatever political targets it had in Serbia.
day, that is on the 10th of July, Dr. Levis went to Belgrade. According to his
report, because of an Islamic holiday, he reached Belgrade with some difficulty
and stayed there for five days. In this short time he was able to collect a lot
of information on the said lodge and wrote a report for General Krajtner,
sending copies to Baron Apel (General), to the Minister of Defence and to the
Minister of Security, Baron Kempen, in Vienna.
there is a secret society called Freemasonry in Belgrade. The aims of this
organisation conflict with the genuine objectives of freemasonry, which are
humanitarian principles and goals. The target of the Belgrade Lodge is to
destroy the status quo, its activities and politics are democracy oriented.
lodge has 204 members. The members are Turkish, Serbian, Hungarian and
adventurers from the entire world. Among the Turkish and Serbian members of the
lodge are many prominent citizens and high level government employees. There are
proofs that the Ottoman Grand Vizier in Istanbul is following closely the
affairs of the lodge. The Belgrade Lodge is the biggest lodge of Christians and
Turks in the Balkans, and the branches of Vidin, Svishtov, Rustchuk, Varna and
Napoli (?) are attached to this lodge. The general assembly of the lodge
will be held on the coming 5th of August and all the branches will be
represented in this assembly.
lodge meets in the evenings; all the members wear Turkish garments. In one
meeting, all attending 40 members were wearing French clothes. Strangely, some
Turkish women attended this meeting. 6 fully armed Turkish guardsmen were
guarding the entrance of the lodge.
President of the Belgrade Lodge is a Turk named Mehmet Sait Ismail. He is well
respected by the people and the Pasha of Belgrade. Probably the Pasha himself,
or his interpreter Ahmed Efendi(5) is a member of the lodge, but this
information has not been confirmed. The lodge has two secretaries: a Turk and a
Christian. The Christian secretary is Professor Shultz. A member of the lodge,
Toma Vucic Perishic is a dangerous person, a rich Polish man, nicknamed Moro, a
captain borne in Morava, commander of the Serbian military school , the president of the Polish Committee
Doushe are all freemasons members of the lodge. Count Tiskilevic, Professor
Charles Aren, the wife of the Czeck Wilhem Vof-Aren and governess of Knez’s
children, etc, are all members.
Turkish members of the lodge want to bring back the rule of the Janissaries, the
Christians are republicans. One thing is important, to reach their respective
aims of returning to the past or aiming at the future, the two groups have
formed an alliance in the form of a brotherhood. The only way their mutual aims
could be realised is trough a revolution and both groups labour conjointly in
Belgrade Lodge is in contact with the revolutionary organisations of all
countries. The correspondence is sent either by post or by private dispatch
carriers. For this, they use trustworthy Turks and Hungarians travelling from
Belgrade to Austria and other lands. Letters are sent to addresses of the above
mentioned Moro, to Nikola Shapovic or Shlezinger. Packets from Vienna arrive via
Zemun to Belgrade and are delivered to their recipients without being opened.
The Zemun post office does not have the possibility to control the contents of
Krajnter has added his personal information to Dr. Levis’ report. It seems
that he has received a membership card for the Belgrade lodge, written in
Turkish. The General believed that Levis could learn the secret plans of the
lodge, and that furnishing this information in time
to the government would be rewarding for him. Krajnter tried to convince
Levis to work for him. Levis, although accepting in principle this mission,
pointed to the dangers he would be facing and asked to be paid in advance and
also to be assured to have a permanent professorship. If these conditions were
accepted, he would be present at the 5th August general assembly and would
introduce himself to the members of the Belgrade Lodge as a professor of foreign
languages; he would also establish himself in Belgrade or Zemun.
the 15th July 1851 the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs Shvancenberg
informed the Austrian Consul in Belgrade Radosavljevic, of Dr. Levis’ mission.
Radosavljevic, on his side, informed Pest that a masonic lodge had been created
in Belgrade, that a Turk named Mehmet Sait Ismail had been elected master of the
lodge, that he was attached to Knez Milosh, liaising thus with Freemasons in
Pest and that the real object of the lodge was the destruction of the Belgrade
Levis returned to Pest he briefed General Apel on what he had learned about the
lodge. Apel had the information confirmed from other sources, added this
intelligence to Levis’ report and sent his new report to the security Minister
Kempen on the 7th September 1851.
to this report, the name of the Belgrade Lodge was Ali Koç. The members had
special signs of recognition; the master of the lodge was Mehmet Sait Ismail.
The lodge was in contact with the French National Lodge in Paris. It had 204
members, the majority of which were Turkish small merchants. Three French, two
Germans and four Serbians were members of the lodge. Shultz was responsible for
the correspondence in German, while Ahna (Ahmed ?) Efendi cared for the
correspondence in French, Turkish and Hungarian. (A. Ivic, “The creation and
Working of the First Belgrade Lodge”, VREME, No. 3196)
about the Belgrade lodge was continuously fed to Vienna. The above is the only
information available in the Viennese archives.
the letter written by the Austrian Security Minister Kempen to the Austrian
consul in Belgrade on the 9th February 1855, asking further information on the
lodge, we understand that his curiosity had not been satisfied. The consul,
obtaining or buying new information wrote his final report to Kempen on the 27th
February 1855. This is his report:
lodge was created 6-7 years ago in Belgrade and it has actually 140 members.
Shultz, borne in Saxonia, professor at the Knez school is a member of the lodge.
Ali is the founder of Freemasonry in Turkey. The symbol of the Belgrade lodge is
a marble pedestal with red dots and about twenty grooves carved on it. The red
dots symbolise the blood of Ali. Alongside the lodge’s social benevolent
activities, it has also political goals.
all the Muslim clergy living in the Istanbul convents are freemasons. Their
protector is the brother of the Sultan, Reshid Pasha and Ali Pasha are lodge
Sait Ismail is a 60 year old Turk. To people who share his ideas he claims that in the near future the Belgrade Lodge will initiate
big events amazing the whole world. He often travels for the benefit of the
political activities of the lodge.
could not learn how this lodge communicates especially with Austrian lodges and
with lodges on the international level. My informant on the subject told me that Mehmet Sait Ismail is a honorary member of the
Leipzig Lodge and that he has good relations with a well known freemason in Pest
named Dr.Levis. When Levis came here for a few days three years from now, he was
continuously in the company of the master of the lodge. Levis had told then that
many political dissidents and refugees were admitted to the lodge.
year Ismail stayed a few months in Vienna. He wanted to travel to Leipzig from
there. But, as he spoke only Turkish and Serbian and as he could not find a
trustworthy interpreter, he changed his mind and went back to Belgrade.
trip was for the lodge’s benefit. Mehmet Sait Ismail knew that Mr. K. was a
mason, but he wanted to learn if Count Westmorkland (sic) and Lord Redilajf
(sic) were masons too.
secretary of the lodge is Jasha Adjem. Confirmation is needed to know if this
secretary is the same person as the Pasha’s interpreter, Ahmed Efendi and if
Ahmed Efendi is a mason.” (A. Ivic …)
is confirmed by D. Stanjakovic that Toma Vucic Perisic had been initiated into
freemasonry when he was in Istanbul during his first exile in the years 1840-41.
Knez Adam Czartoriski’s deputy Mihail Czaykovski had been operative in Toma
Vucic Perisic’s exile.
Adam Czartoriski (1770-1861) was the leader of the 1830 Polish revolution. The
objective of the revolution, under the influence of the French Revolution of
July 1830, was to re-establish Poland’s independence. The revolution was
unsuccessful. Polish refugees took refuge in various European countries and
continued their revolutionary efforts from there.
Czartoriski was the leader of the rightist Polish political refugees. He had
escaped to London and moved from there to the “Hotel Lambert” in Paris. From
there, for more than thirty years, using many agents, he conducted efficiently a
secret organisation. The Balkans were the scene of conflicts of interest among
the big powers, and especially after 1840, Polish refugees were very active in
the pro Slavic and against Russia activities of the Polish refugees coincided
with the ideologies and objectives of England and France, these two countries
sponsored Knez Czartoriski. All the members of Knez Czartoriski’s organisation
were freemasons; freemasons were in power in the governments of England and
politics of England and France were focused on Austria and Russia. Apart from
the political and strategic advantages these two powers were after, one has to
take into consideration the masonic links. The populations of Russia and Austria
were mainly Catholic and Orthodox, tsarism and feodalıty were dominant in
these countries and the pressure of anticlericalism was a helping factor.
financial aid and their political influence, England and France are in a loyal
cooperation with the Polish refugees, and thus they apply their political
pressure directly on the independence movements in the Balkans.
being once a close friend of Tsar Alexander I, and using his masonic channels
helped the Western political views to take hold in the Balkans and in this way
helped the political aspirations of the small Balkan countries. (V.
1841 when Adam Czartoriski decided to use the Eastern problem in fomenting a
European war, the polish politics had to be revised. Czaykovski(8) was sent to Istanbul as the head of the Polish
agents. (V. Vuçkovic)
Zoran D. Nenezic – MASONI U YUGOSLAVIJI (1764 – 1980); Printed in 1984 (P.171 – 174) with handwritten notes by Prof. Thierry Zarcone in the margins.
(1) Prime Minister of the Otoman Empire
(3) Gani Ismail Çolak Mehmet Sait
(4) The temple and convent of the Mevlevi (Whirling Dervishes) at Sirkeci, Istanbul
(5) Ali Koç
(6) Suburb of Belgrade
(7) Efendi: mister, gentleman
(8) Knez Adam Czartoriski’s deputy Mihail Czaykovski