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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

Dueling in universities,   pp. [37]-41 PDF (3.1 MB)

Page 40

Goettingen University students, in high spirits, sing old
fraternity song on night after police raid on dueling club.
In Bonn the Rhenania expressed great delight that it
had finally secured the membership of a former regular
army officer and son of an army colonel, after they had
considered several other prospects "who, however, did not
appear suitable or were out of question for other reasons."
The "armed fraternities" state unanimously that they
do not think weapons (pistols) are suitable means of re-
storing an insulted honor. They justify their demand for
sword dueling with "the educational value of this exer-
cise." An anonymous alumnus wrote in Convent, journal
of the above mentioned fraternity: "No fraternity adopted
dueling as a principle after 1945 . . . It is up to the armed
fraternities -and their alumni - to determine when and
in what form dueling will be resumed."
In another issue of this magazine the language is
stronger: "Ile who does not believe in the principle
of dueling and restoring honor by dueling has no place
in our ranks, notwithstanding his point of honor and our
respect for his different view."
IT IS NO SECRET that dueling has been resumed in
I German universities. The report of the International
Student Seminar in Koenigstein (August 1950) mentioned
several of these incidents. Few of them, however, became
public, due to the secrecy maintained by those concerned.
University presidents say that things were getting along
smoothly as long as they dealt with students only. But the
situation changed rapidly when the alumni intervened.
One of them accused the university presidents in a news-
paper article of not being independent enough and of
lacking the courage to take a stand against the govern-
ment, if necessary.
Objectively, it can be said that the influence of the
alumni is constantly increasing. They are numerically the
majority (average in West Germany is four alumni to one
active fraternity member) and they hold leading positions
in the government and industry, which makes it possible
for them to offer the good positions to active fraternity
members after their graduation. They also substantiate
their influence by generous monetary grants.
The efforts of the alumni to impose their own patterns
upon the new fraternities cannot be justified by the well-
known adage that they are merely resorting to 'certain
valuable experiences and well-proven institutions." There
is ample evidence of the students' eagerness and ability
to do without these "experiences," which the alumni
force on them. However, relatively few fraternities have
made marked efforts to resist this influence.
AT MUENSTER UNIVERSITY, 25 students resigned
their membership in the Franconia, because the board
of the alumni association demanded that every active
member should wear colors and recognize dueling.
Universitas in Hanover broke its ties with the asso-
ciation of alumni and consequently had to move out of
its quarters, because it refused to recognize dueling. "In
their time the alumni lived for their ideals," the fraternity
wrote in a German student magazine. "They should let us
live for our ideals and cease to exercise material in-
fluence, It is understandable that they want to see their
old colors restored, but they should realize that we have
become very critical toward the spirit they represented."
The alumni of the academic glee club Bardia in Bonn
broke relations with the active members because the club
had admitted girl students. In Marburg several fraternities,
which got rid of their alumni associations, organized in
a working committee against the tradition-bound groups.
A Bonn attorney and former government official, now
chairman of the "Andernach Working Committee of Du-
eling Fraternities," wrote in a circular:
"The fraternities are requested to organize associations
of all armed fraternities at university level. The develop-
ment (i. e., the establishment of the Andernach committee)
is due to the fact that dueling as a principle and as a
mutual task has replaced dueling as a mere means of
settling disputes of honor. The committee will appoint a
trustee-attorney in every university town, who should
be contacted immediately if difficulties arise and should
be made the defense counsel of any students involved.
"It is pointed out in this connection that it is impossible
at this time to list the various countermeasures to be taken
when and if the universities or the police interfere. But
it should be emphasized that neither university presidents
nor conferences of such presidents can establish laws for
the students. Neither can they decree what-- in contrast
to the old established student traditions -is moral and
immoral in academic life. Particularly, they cannot force
students to sign statements to the effect that they will
commit or omit certain acts. The maintenance of our
academic freedom requires courage and courage again!
We should consider how important such a contribution
is in developing our active members' personalities."
Presidents has resolved unanimously to ban both
dueling and the wearing of colors. The resolution is not
binding, but it is adhered to by all German universities
which, as a result, recognize only student groups renounc-
ing these two practices. A conference of the Federal

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