Adolf Freiherr Knigge
Freiherr Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig Knigge (16 October 1752 – 6 May 1796) was a German
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 writer and Freemason
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...


Knigge was born in Bredenbeck (now a part of Wennigsen
Wennigsen is a municipality in the district of Hanover, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated near the Deister hills, approx. 15 km southwest of Hanover.-Geography:...

, Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

) in the Electorate of Hanover
Electorate of Hanover
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the ninth Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation...

 as a member of the lesser nobility. He studied law from 1769 to 1772 in Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

 where he became a member of Corps Hannovera. He was allegedly initiated
Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components...

 into Freemasonry in 1772 in Kassel
Kassel is a town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Kassel Regierungsbezirk and the Kreis of the same name and has approximately 195,000 inhabitants.- History :...

, where he held a position as Court Squire (hofjunker) and Assessor of the War and Domains Exchequer.

Handle gut und anständig, weniger anderen zu gefallen, eher um deine eigene Achtung nicht zu verscherzen.

Translation: "Act well and properly, less to please others, more to keep your own self-respect."

Ehre das Alter!

Translation: "Respect old age!"

Eine der wichtigsten Tugenden im gesellschaftlichen Leben, die täglich seltener wird, ist die Verschwiegenheit.

Translation: "One of the most important virtues in social life, a virtue that is becoming less common by the day, is discretion."

Es gibt keine Notlügen; noch nie ist eine Unwahrheit gesprochen worden, die nicht früh oder spät nachteillige Folgen für jedermann gehabt hätte.

Translation: "There is no such thing as a 'white lie'--there has not yet been an untruth uttered, that sooner or later hasn't led to unfortunate consequences for everyone."

Gar zu leicht missbrauchen oder vernachlässigen uns die Menschen, sobald wir mit ihnen vertraulich werden. Um angenehm zu leben, muss man fast immer ein Fremder unter den Leuten bleiben.

Translation: "People far too easily neglect or abuse us, as soon as we become intimate with them. To live pleasantly, one must almost always remain a stranger in the crowd."

In deiner Kleidung verfalle nie in Nachlässigkeit, wenn du allein bist. Gehe nicht schmutzig, nicht krumm noch mit groben Manieren einher, wenn dich niemand beobachtet.

Translation: "When you are alone, never let your clothing fall into disarray. Do not allow yourself to be dirty, have poor posture, or have rude manners when no one is observing you."

Keine Verbindungen pflegen dauerhafter zu sein als die, welche in der frühen Jugend geschlossen werden. Man ist da noch weniger misstrauisch, weniger schwierig in Kleinigkeiten.

Translation: "No bonds last longer than those made in early youth. At that age one is less mistrustful and less troubled by trifles."

Lerne den Ton der Gesellschaft anzunehmen, in der du dich befindest.

Translation: "Learn to take on the tone of whatever company you find yourself in."

Lerne Widerspruch ertragen. Sei nicht kindisch eingenommen von deinen Meinungen.

Translation: "Learn to bear criticism. Do not be childishly biased by your own opinions."

Sei nicht zu sehr ein Sklave der Meinungen andrer von dir! Sei selbständig! Was kümmert dich am Ende das Urteil der ganzen Welt, wenn du tust, was du sollst?

Translation: "Do not be too much a slave of others' opinions of you! Be self-sufficient! Why, in the end, does the opinion of the whole world trouble you, if you do what you should?"