The So-Called Schwedenkiste (“Swedish Box”), the Most Significant Illuminati Archive

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 | Primary Documents

by Terry Melanson (17/6/2009)

Volume XI, "quibus-Licet-notebooks" by Illuminati members of the Saxon-Thuringian territories

Volume XI of the Schwedenkiste: 'Quibus-Licet-notebooks' by Illuminati members of the Saxe-Thuringian territories

After Adam Weishaupt had fled in 1785, the center of activity for the Illuminati shifted from Bavaria to the Duchies of Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar. And while the founder of the Illuminati was content to safely settle down for the long haul at the court of Duke Ernst II of Saxe Gotha, Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1730-1793) took the reins and assumed the role previously held by Weishaupt.

Through the efforts of Bode and an expanding network of recruits – and under the protection of the Illuminati Dukes Karl August of Saxe-Weimar and Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha – new colonies were established in places like France, Russia and Italy. Bode kept the Weimar and Gotha Lodges Amalia and Ernst Zum Kompass informed of his activities, but the bulk of the evidence of continued Illuminati activity remained in his possession.

Ensuring that whatever they contained would remain secret, upon Bode’s death in December 1793 his literary executor, Illuminatus Christian Gottlieb von Voigt (1743–1819), transferred his deceased friend’s possessions to Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha who had already bought the voluminous papers before Bode died.

Bode’s legacy was too damaging, and after a brief inspection the Duke had the papers sealed (merging them with his own), and changed his will to stipulate that his Masonic legacy should be sent to the Grand Lodge in Sweden after his death – protected and secure from publication.

The Duke died in April 1804, whereupon the transfer of these documents was duly carried out, confidentially, under the auspices of surviving members of the Illuminati.

With the supervision of the Swedish royal family, the Grand Lodge of Sweden protected the legacy of the Illuminatus for over 70 years. In 1883, however, following a request from the Duke’s great-grandchild – Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1818-1893), a Mason himself – they were returned, and again became the property the Gotha Lodge Ernst Zum Kompass. (The documents of the Ernst/Bode estate were transported via rail, in a large wooden box. This is where the term “Schwedenkiste” or “Swedish Box” originates.)

It was organized in 1919 into 20 volumes along with registries and lists of its contents.

The Nazis confiscated it 1935/6 under a general suppression of Freemasonry; it was moved to Silesia during the war, and was subsequently stolen by the Russians and transferred to the Soviet Union. Most of it was returned to (East) Germany in 1950s – volumes 1-9 and 11-20 – but the tenth-volume remained in Moscow.

Monika Neugebauer-Wölk writes:

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the partial opening of the Russian archives to international research, the tenth volume of the Swedish Box was rediscovered by the Merseburg archivist Renate Endler in the Moscow special archive. As a consequence of German reunification, the Freemasonry archives were transferred in 1994 from Merseburg to the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin. Here the estate of Bode is available for scholarly use with permission of the Grand National Mother-Lodge “Zur den drei Weltkugeln”.

- Monika Neugebauer-Wölk, “Illuminaten” entry, in Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, ed. Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Brill Academic Publishers, 2005, p. 596.

Faithfully adhering to Ernst’s order not to publish any of this material, safely in Sweden during most of the 19th- and then Gotha into the 20th-century, the papers of Bode were kept under lock and key. Only a few pre WWI and WWII scholars were even allowed to examine them; Leopold Engel and René Le Forestier, for instance, but they weren’t given full access, and what they intended to publish was closely scrutinized.

With the entire comprehensive collection restored and accessible to research, much has been learned about the Illuminati’s makeup and activities in the latter half of the 1780s: Quibus licet reports from the initiates themselves, minutes of meetings, protocols for provincials and prefects, and lists of members and their aliases.

One of the first researchers to make full use of the material was Hermann Schüttler. While utilizing his Die Mitglieder des Illuminatenordens 1776-1787/93 [The Members of the Order of the Illuminati 1776-1787/93] (Munich: Ars Una 1991) as a source for my own book, for instance, I was struck by how many times references to the Schwedenkiste were cited as proof of membership for a number of initiates. That was in 1991, however, when Volume X of the Swedish Box was still missing in Moscow. In 1997 he subsequently published “Zwei freimaurerische Geheimgesellschaften des 18. Jahrhunderts im Vergleich: Strikte Observanz und Illuminatenorden” [A Comparison of Two 18th-Century Masonic Secret Societies: Strict Observance and Illuminatenorden]. Whereas in 1991 the number of confirmed Illuminati members was 1255, Schüttler, largely by utilizing Volume X, managed to increase the number to 1394.

One thing that became clear from the new evidence found in the Swedish Box was the fundamental importance of pedagogy to the Illuminati. So much so, that Peggy Pawlowski’s 2004 doctoral thesis is dedicated to the subject: Der Beitrag Johann Adam Weishaupts zur Pädagogik des Illuminatismus [Johann Adam Weishaupt's Contribution to the Pedagogy of Illuminatism] (2004). To Pawlowski, the Illuminati can be thought of as the executive arm of the Aufklärung [the German Enlightenment].

The educational theories of Rousseau and Basedow were just that – theories. In order to effectively change society, the Illuminati reasoned, the new pedagogy had to be implemented by either taking control of existing institutions (which they did) or by founding some of their own. An instance of the latter is the Schnepfenthal Educational Institute in Gotha. As the material found in the Swedish Box confirms, at all stages of its financing, establishment and staffing, the hand of the Illuminati is clearly discerned. (See Christine Schaubs’ “Salzmanns Schulgründung im Lichte der Illuminaten” [Salzmann's School was Clearly Founded by the Illuminati] and “Die Erziehungsanstalt in Schnepfenthal im Umfeld geheimer Sozietäten” [Secret Societies and the Educational Institute in Schnepfenthal]; and Perfectibilists, pp. 403-5.)

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11 Comments to The So-Called Schwedenkiste (“Swedish Box”), the Most Significant Illuminati Archive

Justin Russell
June 17, 2009

It’s too bad that the more detailed work on Pestalozzi that is mentioned in your book is in German. Notwithstanding the heavy doctrinal influence the Bavarian Illuminati had on modern communism, anarcho-primitivists, and subversibe groups of all kinds, Pestalozzi’s influence may be one of the greatest of any member in modern times. Especially in the U.S. education system.

Would you agree or disagree there Terry?

Terry Melanson
June 17, 2009

With the amount of money that Universities and research foundations get, the least they could do is hire some translators for the most important finds. In Canada, for instance, every scrap of government document (federal, provincial, and local) is produced in both English and French. It’s overkill, really, and a lot of people resent it. However, there is model there in place, and the top Universities in the world could learn from the way such a thing is implemented. The important stuff - the primary material - could easily be translated into English, German and French (and perhaps Spanish or Italian). Those in the East could do the same, picking their own 3 or 4 most spoken languages. Perhaps the UN itself should be tasked with doing such a thing.

As far as Pestalozzi; yes, I think he’s pretty important as the founder of modern educational theory - UNESCO seems to think so as well. He was influenced a lot by the Illuminati in the 1780s and perhaps even the ’90s, but I think he was more an innovator than a follower. I really wish Charlotte Iserbyt or John Taylor Gatto had gone back as far as Pestaozzi and the entire milieu of French/German/Prussian pedagogy during the 18th Century. (Had they even mentioned Rousseau?) I’m pretty sure they start their treatments only with the disciples of Pestalozzi, and I’m not even sure if they stress that fact.

Fire Fly in the Dark
July 1, 2009

So were the original Illuminati under Adam Weishaupt more set on a peaceful, less mind controlling agenda then the Illuminati that followed? If so, what happened to Weishaupt? Did he form another group elsewhere? It would be nice to know that there is such a group that is on ‘our’ side and not just one hell bent on total control via chaos and Satanic ritualistic mind manipulation of the masses… not to mention the de-population agenda etc etc ad nauseum.

July 10, 2009

From what Terry says in his book & his comments on Wm. McIlvany’s TNA articles, if I’ve read them correctly, the Illuminati agenda was meant to be quietly subversive rather than violently revolutionary if at all possible. ANd it was succeeded by a plethora of wanna-be Illuminati Orders, some subversive, some revolutionary, but none having a central control over the others. I would add- not until the organization of the Communist Party in 1848.

As to what Weishaupt was doing, it looks like he was writing books defending himself & the Order against the accusations against them, and then finally making peace with the RCC & endowing churches. Now, how sincere he was in that, I have no idea.

September 25, 2009

Hello there Terry. I was curious if you wouldn’t mind me inquiring about the Schwedenkiste. Would you mind telling me where I can get a pdf file or perhaps copies of this very important document for me to translate? I am currently curious as to what the Schwedenkiste says so I would love to get my hands on it. If they already have some copies on sale in the internet via books or online for free download? Also do you know of any good historical books on the Illuminati and not these bullshit conspiracy theorist books?

Appreciate it. Contact me via PM on youtube if you feel you need to.

Terry Melanson
September 25, 2009

The archives are housed here:

They haven’t been printed or digitized.

“do you know of any good historical books on the Illuminati”

My own.

Ima Translator
December 26, 2009

Great post!
I am sure sooner or later, they will get around to translating the valuable documents.

January 26, 2010

Are you suggesting that the duke of gotha and their ancestors continued their own version of the illuminati tradition (the eyes wide shut party article you wrote)?

Terry Melanson
January 26, 2010

What I was suggesting in that article - really - was that so many conspiracy theorists go on about so-called ‘Illuminati bloodlines’ that are totally made up - i.e. they have nothing whatsoever to do with the original Bavarian Illuminati. The “Heaven and Hell” party presented the perfect opportunity to write about two actual descendants in a modern context.

April 10, 2012

Hi Terry, I would like to talk to you regarding all this…Would you be able to drop me an email please? Kind regards, K

robert beaudine
April 5, 2015

Iserbyt briefly mentioned Rousseau but obviously never read Rousseau’s “Emile” which is filled with quackery but foundational to mandatory progressive public education worldwide.

Terry, I appreciate your continued exhaustive and well-documented research. Keep up the great work!!

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