Not many people are aware of the contributions made by several secret societies in shaping the world as we know today. For the most part, their endeavours are not justly recorded in our history books. The secret societies listed here have sometimes managed to push their country forward and sometimes backwards. Never-the-less, they helped shape the world. Now, let’s take a look into 10 secret societies that shaped our world:
10. The Germanenorden (Germany)
Germanenorden established in 1812 was a society born out of their adversity towards Jews and their belief in the Aryan race superiority. Therefore it was not surprising when in 1916 they adopted the Swastika symbol. They recruited members based on evidences of their Aryan ancestry by proof of their birth certificates among other things, which was followed by initiation rituals where members were to dress up like nymphs, knights, kings et al.
The group changed into the Thule Society in 1918 and assisted in defeating communalism. They further renamed themselves into the German Workers Party. In 1920 Adolf Hitler took over the society and made sure to do away the unnecessary absurd rituals.
9. Afrikaner Broederbond (South Africa)
The Afrikaner Broederbond group, founded in 1918, went one step ahead and had actually aimed at seizing control over the whole of South Africa. Membership was only opened to white men over 25 years of age who were guided by their self-promoted Afrikaner nationalism seeking to dominate over the economy, culture and politics of South Africa. There managed to influence the Reunited National Party so much so that it irked the prime minister who called the party as “nothing more than the secret Afrikaner Broederbond operating in public.” And they started controlling the South African Bureau of Racial Affairs in 1947.
Their rise to power was astounding and almost every important political person was a member of the society. This gave rise to a saying, “The South African government today is the Broederbond and the “Broederbond is the government.” It was only after Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994 that the society began seeing downhill.
After this they renamed themselves into Afrikanerbond and now, are open to include members irrespective of their colour, religion, gender et al with a goal of making South Africa a better country.
8. The Carbonari (Italy)
No one knows how or exactly when the Carbonari came into existence. But as speculation goes, it originated around the time when the Congress of Vienna was deciding on what to do with the territories conquered by Napoleon. By 1815, Italy was cut into several pieces. This Italian secret group is said to have had 60,000 members and they rose in revolt against King Ferdinand who was ruling over Sicily and Naples. He soon had to give up his power. This was followed by the whole of Italy rising up into a widespread movement that eventually ended in the unification of Italy in 1861.
7. La Trinitaria (Dominican Republic)
The La Trinitaria, or The Trinity was founded in July 1838 in Dominican Republic which was under Haitian rule since the year 1822. The Republican citizen wanted freedom from the clutches of the Haitians. It was among such sentiments that Juan Pablo Duarte rose as a national leader and founded The Trinity. He was only 25 years old and his secret society comprised of only 8 members.
The society aimed at spreading national sentiment and achieving independence. They used cryptic methods in communication and pseudonym to keep their existence hidden. Besides helping other rebel groups they had attempted at a revolution in 1843, which failed. The members were imprisoned while Duarte fled the country. But The Trinity’s audacious work had set the ball rolling and while they remained dormant, Republicans rose up a fought until Dominican Republic was declared free on February 27, 1844. Unfortunately, when Juan Pablo Duarte returned to preside over the country he had helped to create, he was overthrown by a military coup. Duarte died in exile in 1864.
6. The Hawaiian League (Hawaii)
The Hawaiian League was formed by 200 affluent Europeans and Americans discontented with the Hawaiian ruler King Kalakaua. They alleged the king of being too extravagant so they hatched a plan to overthrow the monarchy with backing from the American businessmen. In 1887, the secret society came into existence with a constitution written by Lorrin A. Thurston, though unfortunately the document didn’t survive the passage of time.
With 405 members and alliance with the Honolulu Rifles, they managed to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani in the year 1893. For 5 years, Hawaii remained a republic until it became a territory of the US in 1898. In 1959 Hawaii was officially recognized as the 50th state of the US.
5. Filiki Etaireia (Greece)
In 1814, Nikalaos Skoufas and Athanasios Tsakalov, together along with a few other merchants founded the Filiki Etaireia (“Friendly Brotherhood”) to overthrow the Ottoman rule in their country. The society took their ‘secret’ part very seriously and when one of their member named Nikolaos Galatis began beating drums out in the open about the existence of their society, he was murdered by the Brotherhood.
The society had a very complicated recruiting system with six level of membership, the top level of which was occupied with men of great education and money. With the help of a Russian officer named Alexander Ypsilantis, the Brotherhood initiated the Greek Revolution in the Spring of 1821. Unfortunately, into the very beginning of the war, the secret society dissembled but the revolution ended with Greece winning their independence.
4. Katipunan (Philippines)
Katipunan came into existance in the Philippines in 1892 with the goal of opposing the Spanish domination. The single worded name is actually the abbreviated form of Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang Na Katipunan Nang Manga Anak Nang Bayan that translates into the ‘Supreme Worshipful Association of the Sons of the People.’
This society had a male-only membership that was inherited by the sons from their fathers. They had all sorts of rituals and codes as expected form a secret society but the singularity of their rituals was that they signed every document with their own blood, beginning with their founding document back in July 7th 1892. For many years thousand of the members remained mum without giving a clue as to their existence to the Spanish authority. When their secret was out they overthrew their concealment and went for an all-out rebellion that ended with the Filipinos gaining their independence in June 12, 1898.
3. Irish Republican Brotherhood (Irb)
James Stephens along with a few other fellowmen founded the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood on St Patrick’s Day in 1858. They had centers in as many as seven different countries – Canada, USA, England, Australia (that was under the British Empire), New Zealand and South America. Each center had a colonel with nine captains, nine sergeants and nine privates. Each recruit knew only his superior so as to keep their identities hidden.
By 1910, the brotherhood had several Irish members and under the leadership of Thomas Clarke rose up in revolt in 1916, now known as the Easter Rising. The rising, however, failed. A few years later IBR lead the Anglo-Irish war that eventually saw the Irish Free State being created in 1921.
2. The Black Hand (Serbia)
Unification Or Death, was a Serbian organization better known as the Black Hand. It was founded on May 9, 1911 to fight against the Ottoman rule. All 2,500 members of the society took oath to put secrecy of the group before their own lives. They operated on different levels and took significant steps to make sure each member was not in contact with most of the other members so that when one member was caught he would have no information to offer about the other members.
The Black Hand was leaded by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, also known as ‘Apis’ after the bull deity of Ancient Egypt. And it was he who planned the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the breaking out of World War I.
1. The Union Of Salvation (Russia)
The society was founded by six military officers and friends whose aims were, initially, rather vague and dissimilar form each other. When the Russian Czar died, the Union under the leadership of Pavel Pestel organised the Decembrist Uprising of 1825 to prevent his descendents from taking over the power. The uprising saw around three thousand Russians attempting to usurp Czar Nicholas I on his very first day in power which failed with disastrous consequence like censorship for press and education, establishment of spy networks et al. This uprising however was responsible for sowing the seeds for the next revolution, 100 years later in 1917, when the Russian Empire fell.