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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

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


Page [38]


Goettingen police were unaware of dueling activities until
state police armed with warrants came to carry out raids.
WITH THE PROGRESSING normalization of condi-
tions and after original Military Government regu-
lations subjecting student meetings to official approval
had been rescinded, there was want of a new form of
student community life. Several cultural, political, scien-
tific, sports and other interest groups were founded and
their membership increased as the number of war veterans,
who opposed any form of organization, declined. The Ba-
varian Student Journal described the development candidly:
"From the beginning there were two different tenden-
cies. One aimed at a very loose form of community life,
such as clubs, associations, etc. But the majority aimed
at fraternity-like bodies wherever possible, along the
traditional lines of German fraternities and their organi-
zation of alumni. From the outside, the difference was
hardly conceivable, because the fraternity-type groups
selected inconspicuous names."
Under church protection, the denominational fraternities
were the first to come out into the public, later followed
by the non-denominational groups. They immediately re-
established the old fraternity associations under the old
names and the influence of their old alumni organizations.
The number of fraternities has grown rapidly, although
their membership still comprises only a fraction of the
student body. For instance, Munich, West Germany's
largest university, has nearly 100 fraternities. Figuring
that the average fraternity has from 20 to 25 active mem-
bers, the organized students would represent roughly
25 percent of the over-all student body.
Other universities report similar figures. In Mainz 1,500
of 5,000 students are members of a total of 23 fraternities,
in Marburg and ltanover about 30 percent belong to
fraternities. Wuerzburg, western Germany's smallest uni-
versity, leads with a fraternity membership of 31 percent.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE FRATERNITIES, however,
exceeds their numerical Droportion by far. Non-
organized students hardly participate in student com-
munity life, and other organized student groups often
show a lack of activity, leaving the field to the highly-
organized and active fraternities.
A private circular of the Kiel Alemania fraternity may
well serve as an example of fraternity spirit:
"The dinner meeting at the Park I lotel was entirely
satisfactory. For the first time again, the table was
decorated with parade sabers and candles. Highlights
of the meeting were the singing of Deutschland ucher
alles and an address by the fraternity's first officer."
After a blunt statement that a collection yielded DM
578.96 ($ 137.79) for the purchase of dueling swords and
equipment, the circular continues: "In line with the
tradftion of armed fraternities, Alemunia considers fenc-
ing and sword dueling an important part of education.
It also stands for unconditional satisfaction by duel, for
the protection of a member's honor or that of somebody
else. The active members and the alemni will do every-
thing in their power to resume fencing as soon as possible."
As far as the students are concerned, there was no
want of efforts to find new forms of student community
life. The old forms, the wearing of colors and the
"admission duel" were reintroduced only after the alumni
had interfered. From then on a spirit of authoritarianism,
intolerance and a special academic code of honor have
spread on German campuses, endangering social and
political peace at the universities.
N EARLY ALL UNIVERSITIES recognized this danger
Nand prohibited the wearing of colors in public. Duel-
ing is prohibited under German penal law. Yet the frater-
nities claim recognition with reference to constitutionally
guaranteed civil liberties and mutual tolerance.
The struggle for and against fraternities has about
reached its climax. At the meeting of a student associ-
ation in Bonn Aug. 4, Dr. Adolf Suesterheno, state minister
of education and culture for the Rhineland-Palatinate,
publicly maintained that the question of the wearing of
In their swoops on underground dueling clubs, police of-
ficer.s carried away only danaerous rapiers, left dull blades.
INFORMATION BULLETIN


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