Franz Hartmann (1838-1912)
In 1875, the Theosophical Society was founded by H.P. Blavatsky, H.S.
Olcott, W.Q. Judge and others. After Blavatsky died in 1891, the
Theosophists split into a number of fractions, and by 1900 consisted of
three main groups, one of which was led by the German Franz Hartmann,
who was also very active as an Ariosophist.|
Although Blavatsky had thought him "a bad lot", and he had been nicknamed "dirty Franz" by some Theosophists because of his greasy hair, unkempt appearance, and notorious meanness with money, Hartmann obviously made a good impression on Carl Kellner. In fact, Kellner considered Hartmann to be an exalted Rosicrucian, a high occult initiate, and a philosophical genius, and treated him as a valued friend. Hartmann played an important rôle on the Viennese esoteric scene, introducing the culturally influential polymath and historian Friedrich Eckstein (friend and occasional collaborator of Sigmund Freud) and his wife, a well-known author under her nom de plume of 'Sir Galahad', to the Theosophical Society there.
Hartmann also interested Kellner and his wife in Theosophy, and introduced Kellner to a number of interesting Indians; in 1896 he became acquainted with a certain "Mr. Bheema Sana Pratapa from Lahore", who was mentioned in Kellner's pamphlet on Yoga. Kellner and Hartmann presented Pratapa at a Psychological Congress in Munich, where he gave demonstrations of Yogic exercises. Kellner supported the impecunious Hartmann by giving him a sinecure, making him the director of the Lahmann Sanatorium at Hallein in Austria, where patients suffering from lung ailments like tuberculosis and whooping cough were treated with Kellner's 'Ligno-Sulphite Inhalation Treatment'.
The pseudo-Masonic Rite of Memphis and Misraim in Germany was led by Theodor Reuss, Franz Hartmann and one Henry Klein - of whom nothing has yet been discovered. Kellner subsidised the whole concern, but stayed in the background as far as the leadership was concerned. Reuss and Kellner soon began to disagree about the practical aspects of Hatha-Yoga; and Hartmann (who was now in charge of Theosophy in Leipzig) thought that his friend Kellner was being taken for a ride by "false Yogis". Hartmann also parted company with Reuss in 1904, which led to growing difficulties among Memphis-Misraim's leadership.
On June 7 1905, Carl Kellner, "Honorary Grand Master" 33°, 90°, 96°, "director" of the "inner triangle" or "occult circle" consisting of Hartmann, Reuss, and Kellner himself, died. From this time onwards Hartmann severed all connections with Reuss, but because Hartmann was still "legally" a co-leader of Memphis-Misraim, Reuss was compelled to have Hartmann's signature on the Rite's warrants, charters, and other official papers; a close examination of these documents shows that Reuss used a rubber-stamp facsimile of Hartmann's signature.
There is still ample extant evidence of the quarrel between Reuss and Hartmann. On March 17 1906, Reuss wrote to Hartmann complaining about the latter's assumption that Reuss had "nothing more to do with the signing of diplomas, etc., etc,...", and that "From all this I had deduced that you had withdrawn from my M[emphis] + M[israim] F[ree] M[asonic] Order."
In a letter dated February 11 1910, Reuss informed Rudolf Steiner that Hartmann had "not been inside a Masonic lodge since he visited mine at Berlin in 1904, and in fact he is no authority on it anyway."
On August 7 1912 Hartmann died, and the last potential impediment to Reuss's Memphis-Misraim activities was removed. Reuss now claimed that Hartmann had been a "co-founder of the O.T.O." Hartmann was hardly in a position to deny this assertion, but like Kellner and Steiner, Franz Hartmann was never a member of any version of the O.T.O.
Translated by Mark Parry-Maddocks
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