Freemasonry set foot in Germany in 1737, in a piece of land that we now understand as a patchwork pattern of individual states, which is the reason why masonic organisations in Germany developed individually. Three Grand Lodges were founded in the biggest part of Germany, Prussia. They were later called the old-Prussian Grand Lodges: Die Grand National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ (founded 1740, the first Grand Lodge and still exists today), the Grand Land Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany (founded 1770) and the Lodge Royal York of the Friendship. After 1893 other German Grand Lodges started founding own lodges in Prussia, for example the Grand Lodge of Hamburg. The Grand Land Lodge of Saxony arose in Saxony. The Bavarian Grand Lodge in Bayreuth was called Grand Lodge ‘To the Sun’.
The idea of merging all German Grand Lodges came up as early as 1800. In the year 1877 the term ‘United Grand Lodges of Germany’ emerged – ‘Vereinigte Großlogen von Deutschland’ in German.
Still, in the nineteenth century, all endeavours of agreement failed due to traditional particularism. After 1933, German Freemasonry, which was divided into ten independent Grand Lodges, was destroyed. After the war ended in 1945, some masonic lodges were able to rebuild themselves – only in Berlin and Western Germany. In the zones occupied by the Soviet Union and later in the GDR a revival of Freemasonry was impossible. On June 19, 1949 in Western Germany, the 174 lodges organised under the German Grand Lodges were unified to form the ‘United Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Germany’ (today called the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Germany). The Grand Land Lodge of the Freemasons of Germany and the Grand National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ continued in their old traditions. It took years of constant efforts and the help of several foreign lodges, i.e. The United Grand Lodge of England, to find the agreement that marked the foundation of the VGLvD on April 27, 1958. It was the beginning of a construction unique to Freemasonry; unique in the sense that all of the five Grand Lodges who signed the agreement only had to renounce two of their sovereignty rights: the representation of all German Freemasons in foreign masonic organisations and towards the profane world. The Great National Mother Lodge ‘The Three Globes’ and the Provincial Grand Lodges of the British and American-Canadian Freemasons joined the agreement in 1970 as independent Grand Lodges.
The new national order of Freemasonry in German soon gained recognition of most foreign Grand Lodges. Today we are in a mutual relationship of acknowledgement with around 180 Grand Lodges all over the world. The United Grand Lodges of Germany were able to significantly contribute to the development of Freemasonry in Eastern Europe.
In the year 1997 today’s United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria (VGLvBG) was founded, followed by the Grand Lodges Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in Lithuania in 2002 and Latvia in 2003, all with the help of the VGLvD. Additionally, there were the new foundations in Lithuania, Serbia (RGLvSRB – former GLvYugoslawia), Montenegro (in cooperation with the Grand Lodge of Austria GLvÖ, the Great Orient of Italy GOI and the Grand Lodge of Serbia RGLvSRB) as well as in Slovakia (in cooperation with the GLvCR and GLvÖ) and the regular national Grand Lodge of Monaco (in cooperation with the UGLoE and the GNLF in 2010).