To what extent did "mensur" affect student life in fencing fraternities in Germany in the 20th Century?

by Selina Hargett, July 2015

1500 words

5 pages


Plan of Investigation

The investigation assesses how the “Mensur” affect the student life in fencing fraternities in Germany in the 20th century. In order to evaluate the Mensur effect on the student life in Germany, I pondered into a great deal of literature concerning the given theme.

Having read different books about Germany of 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, I paid attention to the mentioning of Heidelberg and the scars obtained in it as an indicator of courage of a hero. There was one of the oldest universities in Heidelberg famous for its duel traditions. In order to be objective, it is necessary to note that Heidelberg was not the only place where the students constantly fought among themselves. Duels took place in all German universities, however, with different frequency. According to the German legislation, each student, irrespective of a social status, should appear in public places with a sword. He could be penalized for the violation of this rule. Besides, the German students were always famous for cockiness and corporationism.

Summary of Evidence

Each student belonged to any corporation. The corporations were divided according to the grace and shine: the sons of rich parents belonged to one of the brilliant corporations as this pleasure cost eight thousand Deutsche Marks a year. The most well-known corporations were called “Burshenshaft” and “Landsmanshaft”. The main goal was maintained: the universities was subdivided approximately into twelve separate corporations from which everyone should have strictly certain colors of a banner and caps - and also strictly certain, favorite beerhouse where the members of other corporations were not allowed.

The student’s brotherhoods of Germany, without speaking about their advantages, were guilty that they did not open the danger of such development to people’s life. There was no mutual understanding between the students and young workers; together with the other layers of youth, senior generations simply ignored the debates with the youth.

Student’s communities - brotherhoods and unions - had to realize their specific tasks. Thus, they could justify own existence. The pre-war brotherhood with feudal principles was not effective any more. Belonging to a student’s brotherhood or union, each student had to find the new forms and define the student’s life with the observance of the strictest discipline and soldier’s asceticism.

Therefore, the students had to participate in updating of scholastic university community actively. The student’s brotherhood of new type was, first of all, the center of life of new student’s community.

German student’s brotherhoods (akademische Verbindungen, Burschenschaften) looked like clubs. In some communities wine parties were the main occupation, in some - different duels and vestments in different clothes, in some - recitation and a continence of speeches. The activity of brotherhoods was surrounded with various rituals and traditions, from the ritual of initiation and duels up to the singing of drinking songs.

The students of those times were in exclusive situation just owing to the training. They had to serve in army for only one year. They possessed the specific academic rights and positions. The students’ brotherhoods were guided by …

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