Grand Master Antoine Zdrojewski

Antoine Jozef Zdrojewski

The most famous Grand Master of the OSMTJ Knights Templar was Antoine Josef Zdrojewski. Zdrojewski was born on March 26, 1900 in Zdrojewo, Poland, and died on in France in 1989. Here we will present several written abstracts about Zdrojewski from different authors.

The WWII Dress Uniform of Antoine Zdrojewski on Display in Poland

In 1969, Regent de Sousa Fontes issued a Magistral Edict convoking a Convent General that would first meet in Paris in September, 1970, with the purpose of electing a new Grand Master.  Many of the Priories were tired of de Sousa Fontes’s despotic and undemocratic leadership, his utter contempt for transparency, and blatant mismanagement.  At that historic Convent General in Paris, participants democratically elected General Antoine (originally Andrzej) Zdrojewski (the Grand Prior of Europe and of France) to be the next Grand Master.  It’s important to note that de Sousa Fontes authorized and attended this Paris Convent for the purpose of electing a new Grand Master as he believed he was going to win.  In anticipation of his victory, Fontes had even prearranged a symbolic “victory lap” of two additional Conclaves: the first scheduled for 1971 in Chicago, Illinois, and the last in 1973 in Portugal.

Zdrojewski had been the Chief of the Polish Military Operations in France.   The relationship between the French and Poles, fighting a common enemy, was very friendly.   The Polish Government in Exile was also covertly regrouping remnants of army units (what would have been the 3rd and 4th Polish Infantry Divisions) for direct military contact to destabilize the German occupation of France.  General Juliusz Kleeberg mustered one of the largest secret armies in France.  The unit became known as the Polish Organization for Fighting for Independence (POWN) and was later commanded by Colonel Zdrojewski.  Because he operated covertly in France, Zdrojewski operated under the alias “Comadant Daniel,” to conceal his real name. Zdrowjeski became a war hero by distinguishing himself as the commander of this secret army and in 1944, after becoming a French citizen, the French Government promoted Zdrojewski to General. (9) (6) (1)

Fernando Fontes
Antoine’s nemesis Fernando de Sousa Fontes

The defeated Fontes was both shocked and furious upon the election of Zdrojewski but he wasn’t willing to obey the Templar Rule of Succession by giving up power.  He tried to have the results nullified by saying that General Zdrojewski was only elected Grand Master because the French Grand Priory had been “infiltrated” by the Gualist Secret Police, Service d’Action Civique (S.A.C.).  Similar to the CIA or MI6 of today, the S.A.C. was established by President Charles de Gaulle as a 1901 law association on January 4th, 1960, in the proclaimed aim of providing unconditional support to de Gaulle’s policies (2).  While it was true that the French Grand Priory included members from the S.A.C., it was certainly not “infiltrated.”  Rather, these were their legitimately accepted members.  General Zdrojewski had served under, been promoted to General by, and fully supported his former Commander, President Charles de Gaulle.  He knew full well who the S.A.C. members were and accepted them into his French Grand Priory.

History is written by the political powers that survive to tell the tale.  While President Charles de Gaulle was in power, the S.A.C. were the heroes defending the Republic and protecting President Charles de Gaulle  during the precarious years following World War II.  But when de Gaulle’s political enemies took power, they portrayed the S.A.C. as criminals (dirt can be found on even the best of organizations).  Saying that the French Grand Priory was “infiltrated” by the S.A.C. is as ridiculous as saying the Templars of today have been infiltrated by retired military personnel.  The Templars of today are fully aware that much of their ranks consist of retired military personnel and welcome them in.

Antoine Zdrojewski later in life as the Grand Master

Fontes’s failed attempt to have the election results nullified caused a split in the OSMTH.  Some of the Grand Priories, including the French, Belgian, Swiss, and Polish, followed the newly elected General Zdrojewski, and some stayed with the defeated Fontes.  Alfred Zappelli (Grand Prior of Switzerland), General Georges de Bruyn (Grand Prior of Belgium), and Badouraly-Somji Alibay (Commander of the Polish Commandery)  were also backers of General Zdrojewski.  After the election of Zdrojewski, our branch became known as OSMTJ (or “OSMTJ-Zdrojewski”).  Those who continued to follow de Sousa Fontes were known as OSMTH (or “OSMTH-Regency”).  “OSMTJ” is the French acronym  for,  “Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem.”  “OSMTH” is the latin translation of that: “Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani”  (“Hierosolymitani” means “Jerusalem”).   In English, you could translate the latin to, the “Supreme ( or Sovereign) Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem.”

General Zdrowjeski’s sword engraved with his name presented June 1960

General Zdrowjeski’s sword blade was engraved with French Symbols

The style of General Zdrowjeski’s sword is dated to the1803 Nopoleonic Wars