by Terry Melanson (7/1/2010)

Not widely known is the fact that some of the key ideas behind the creation of the Bavarian Illuminati came from a member of a German Studentenorden.

In 1776 Adam Weishaupt confided to one of his students, eighteen year-old Franz Anton von Massenhausen, that he was thinking of creating a secret society (at the University of Ingolstadt) to combat the influence of both the Jesuits and the Rosicrucians. Massenhausen had told Weishaupt that this was good idea, and that he already had some experience in this area. Before matriculating at Ingolstadt, Massenhausen informed his teacher, he had been a member of a student secret society in Göttingen; he went on to describe the manner in which they operated, its statutes, and the attire they wore. Taking this as a model, then, on May 1st 1776 Weishaupt, Massenhausen and three others, formed the Order of the Perfectibilists.1

It is ironic that such should be the case, for afterwards the Illuminati, in turn, had not only infiltrated various educational establishments but student societies as well. As Klaus Epstein explains it:

The famous Karlsschule in Stuttgart (Schiller’s alma mater) had several Illuminati on its staff. The educational movement headed by Basedow taught Illuminati principles, though Basedow himself apparently never joined the order. The University of Göttingen had several Illuminati among its professors, which led Weishaupt to exclaim with surprise that Ingolstadt was giving the law to its far more distinguished North German rival. Tutorial positions offered excellent leverage for working for the future triumph of the Aufklärung: the prominent Illuminat Leuchsenring served, for example, as tutor to the Prussian crown prince who became Frederick William III (though the later conduct of his pupil must have disappointed him).2 The two leading student societies (Studentenorden), the Konstantisten and the Schwarze Brüder, were both infiltrated by Illuminati. The actual influence of the order upon the education of Germany’s youth obviously cannot be quantitatively defined, and statistical calculations of the infiltration of the professorate are equally impossible to make.3 These examples suffice to explain, however, the fact that Conservatives called for a drastic purge of educational institutions.4