Secret societies operate from the shadows and influence our world in ways that most people aren’t aware of. They’re often the subject of conspiracy theories as mysterious figures who plot behind the scenes as the ultimate puppet masters. Some of the biggest moments in history have been the works of many of these organizations who brought about great change, for better or worse. Regardless of their motives, here are five secret societies that shaped our world.
1. The Black Hand (Serbia)
On May 9, 1911, the Serbian organization the Black Hand or Unification or Death was founded in order to fight against the Ottoman rule. Led by Colonel Dimitrijevic, the Black Hand operated on many different levels and made sure that the members had minimal contact with each other. As for their leader Dimitrijevic or Apis as he was known, well it was he who planned the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose death led to a series of riots and violence throughout the empire, which quickly snowballed into the outbreak of World War I.
2. The Germanenorden (Germany)
World War II was by far the worst event in human history. But before Adolf Hitler took over the German Workers Party in 1920, there was the Germanenorden who unfortunately, like Hitler, were antisemetic, and upheld the Aryan race as superior. Established in 1812, the Gemanenorden adopted the Swastika symbol in 1916 and soon began recruiting members who had to follow absurd initiation rituals that involved dressing up as kings, knights, nymphs and many more. By 1918, they called themselves the Thule Society, followed by the GWP. And the rest is history, as the saying goes.
3. Katipunan (Philippines)
The Philippines gained their independence on June 12, 1898 and this was the result of an all-out attack by the secret society, Katipunan. The male-only organization was born on July 7, 1892, out of a deep desire to overthrow the Spanish. They had their own codes and rituals, but the main one was that every document had to be signed with the fluid coursing through their veins. After many years of hiding in the shadows, the Katipunan had their cover blown and with that, they launched a full-scale revolt against the Spanish that ended in favor of the Katipunan and the rest of the Filipinos.
4. Irish Republican Brotherhood (Ireland)
March 17, 1858 marks the founding of the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood which was originally an open political organization called United Irishmen. However, they were forced to operate from the shadows after being suppressed by the British, vowing to put an end to their rule. The IRB soon spread all over the world, and in 1916, under the leadership of Thomas Clarke, led their very first rebellion known as the Easter Rising. Despite their failure, they rose up again, this time leading the Anglo-Irish war that resulted in the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921.
5. Filiki Etaireia (Greece)
The Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa, and Greece was one of the many countries under their rule. Much like the Black Hand society in Serbia, the Greeks wanted to be free, leading to the creation of the Filiki Etaireia or Friendly Brotherhood. Secrecy was taken very seriously and anyone with loose lips paid the price with their lives. In the spring of 1821, the Greek Revolution was set into motion with the help of a Russian officer named Alexander Ypsilantis. The Brotherhood disbanded shortly after but Greece gained their independence regardless.
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