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A Studentenverbindung (the umbrella term that includes the Burschenschaften, Landsmannschaften, Corps, Turnerschaften, Sängerschaften, Catholic Corporations, Wingolf and Ferialverbindungen; also often just Verbindung) is a German Sprachraum student corporation somewhat comparable to fraternities in the US or Canada, but mostly older and going back to other kinds of origins.

Contents

Organization

Gothic corporation house of the K.St.V. Arminia Bonn at Bonn (1900–present)

A corporation in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, elsewhere in Europe or in Chile consists of the active students, who study any academic subject at a university, and the already graduated Alte Herren or Altherren (Elder Gentlemen or alumni) /Hohe Damen (High Ladies) that have once been active in the corporation. The active students usually reside in the corporation house, some kind of small dorm for the members of the corporation which also has common rooms for festivities. One of the many benefits of joining a corporation is the especially low pricing of the often rich rooms. Many corporations actively try to recruit new members through these low-priced rooms - after a certain period allowing these new members to learn the traditions, they are then usually offered full membership or asked to leave.

The corporation is mostly financed by the Alte Herren. The latter are said to also take care of the students' careers, helping them in their subjects of study and in other areas of life, up to organizing good jobs and opportunities after graduation. In turn, the active students when becoming Alte Herren finance and help the then-actives. This alleged networking is seen as problematic by other students and most students' unions.

Corporations are organized under umbrella organisations; for example there is the Schweizerischer Studentenverein - Société des Etudiants Suisses (StV-SES), the Wingolfsbund (WB), the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen (CV), the Kartellverband katholischer deutscher Studentenvereine (KV), Weinheimer Senioren-Convent (WSC), the Süddeutsche Kartell (SK), the Coburger Convent (CC), the Deutsche Burschenschaft (DB), the Verband der Vereine Deutscher Studenten (VVDSt), the Deutsche Sängerschaft (DS) or the Kösener Senioren-Convents-Verband (KSCV).

The term Philister is usually used for members who have graduated and become "Alte Herren". Consequently, the president of the Alte Herren society of a fraternity is called the "Philistersenior", similar to the "Aktivensenior" (mostly for catholic fraternities) as president of the student body of a fraternity. Another term is Couleuriker, which comes from the French word couleur (color), and is a term for members of all kinds of Studentenverbindungen because normally members of Studentenverbindungen wear a ribbon (Farbenband) in the colors of their Studentenverbindung to show their affiliation.

History

The majority of the current corporations were founded in the early to mid-19th century

They thus inherit the "radical" ideals of the revolutions of 1848, composed of free-thinking notions of democracy and nationalism. The students in the revolutions of 1848 had taken the political position of the bourgeois opposition to the conservative, aristocratic forces of the Restauration, which was the nucleus of political Liberalism in the tripartite system of Conservativism vs. Liberlism vs. Socialism in 19th century politics.

Beer, commercium songs and academic fencing play a big role in corporations. Prominent items in corporations' tradition is the Wartburg festival in 1817 (see Vormärz era) and the Hambach Fest.

Catholic corporations and other Christian corporations, originating from the mid of the 19th century, have been founded as a countermovement to Burschenschaften and Corps. They strictly refuse academic fencing as unethical. Their principles are (Lat.) "religio", "scientia", "patria" and "amicitia" (catholic corporations) or other principles like Wingolfsbund's (Gr.) "Δί ένός πάντα" - "Di henos panta!" (all through christ). In Switzerland, for example, the vast majority of existing Studentenverbindungen are members of the Schweizerischer Studentenverein - Société des Etudiants suisses (StV-SES), an organisation founded in the early 1840s as a union of young Catholic intellectuals and politically interested students. Its members intended to serve the newly-established Swiss Confederation, as a modern nation-state based on federal principles and decentralised organisation. The association played a big role in the integration of the Catholic political minority into state institutions during the Kulturkampf period.

Today the most prospering Studentenverbindungen can be found in cities and towns with traditional liberal arts colleges and universities like Göttingen, Bonn and Heidelberg in Germany.

Tradition

In some fraternities the Mensur (academic fencing) plays a big role, and it is one of the most known traditions to laymen. Unlike duels (which are banned, but form the historical background to the tradition), fencing is not engaged in to solve affairs of honor. They are instead considered a form of regulated fighting (between two members of different fraternities) to prove physical and mental strength and also show their dedication to the fraternity in this extreme and rare situation. Although injuries are possible and relatively common, in modern times they are effectively never lethal due to well protected participants. Typical injuries include facial scars, called "Schmiss", which in fraternities engaging in this tradition are usually considered marks of honor.

Many student societies do not engage in this tradition (nor permit their members to do so). Catholic and other Christian fraternities for instance, strictly forbid any academic fencing because its representation of a duel is not compatible with their ideals. However, they share some part of other formal traditions of the Corps and Burschenschaften and may still wear weapons during ceremonial occasions.

The traditional symbols (couleur) corporation members wear - coloured caps and ribbons - are seldom seen today at universities, usually being worn only during ceremonial occasions.

As most student associations reach back to the early to mid 19th century, tradition and rituals play a big role in all their activities, something which has colored the public perception.

Common types

Despite a wide variety of Studentenverbindungen, certain kinds are prevalent; the most common types are:

Type Characteristics Umbrella organisation(s) Number of corp.
Catholic corporation (wearing Couleur) wc, nF CV, RKDB, ÖCV, TCV 200
Corps wc, pF KSCV, WSC 161
Burschenschaft wc, pF/fo DB, DBÖ,

CDC, NeueDB

158
Catholic corporation (not wearing Couleur) nc, nF KV, UV, ÖKV 126
Landsmannschaft wc, pF CC, ÖLTC, KÖL 84
Other Christian Studentenverbindungen mostly wc, nF Schwarzburgbund, Wingolf, Wartburg-Kartell 61
Sängerschaft wc, fo Deutsche Sängerschaft (Weimarer CC) 20
Academic gymnastic clubs nc, nF ATB, ATBÖ 41
Verein Deutscher Studenten nc, nF VVDSt - KV 40
Turnerschaft wc, pF/fo CC and MK 34

Caption: wc=wearing couleur; nc=not wearing couleur; pF=practicing academic fencing; fo=academic fencing optional; nF=not practicing academic fencing

Uncommon, but influential are the academical-technical engineering clubs ("Akademischer Verein") of the Hütte and Miltenberg-Wernigeroder Ring; the "Hütte" is the publisher of one of the major engineering compendiums in Germany. [1]

See also

Fraternities

Umbrella organizations of fraternities

References

  1. ^ [|HÜTTE, Akademischer Verein]; Horst Czichos, Manfred Hennecke (2004). Hütte. Das Ingenieurwissen.. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 3-540-20325-7.  
  • Rolf-Joachim Baum (Hrsg.), „Wir wollen Männer, wir wollen Taten!“ Deutsche Corpsstudenten 1848 bis heute, Siedler-Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-88680-653-7
  • Martin Biastoch: Duell und Mensur im Kaiserreich (am Beispiel der Tübinger Corps Franconia, Rhenania, Suevia und Borussia zwischen 1871 und 1895). SH-Verlag, Vierow 1995, ISBN 3-89498-020-6
  • Martin Biastoch: Tübinger Studenten im Kaiserreich. Eine sozialgeschichtliche Untersuchung, Sigmaringen 1996 (Contubernium - Tübinger Beiträge zur Universitäts- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte Bd. 44) ISBN 3-51508-022-8
  • Edwin A. Biedermann, „Logen, Clubs und Bruderschaften“, Droste-Verlag, 2007, 2. Auflage, ISBN 3-7700-1184-8, 415 Seiten,
  • Manfred Studier: Der Corpsstudent als Idealbild der Wilhelminischen Ära - Untersuchungen zum Zeitgeist 1888 bis 1914, Abhandlungen zum Studenten- und Hochschulwesen, Band 3, Schernfeld 1990, ISBN 3-923621-68-X
  • Jonathan Green: Armed and Courteous, Financial Times, 3 January 2004, S.16. online (JPG-Scans)
  • R.G.S. Weber: The German Corps in the Third Reich Macmillan London, German edition: Die Deutschen Corps im dritten Reich SH-Verlag ISBN 3-89498-033-8
  • U. Altermatt (Ed.), Den Riesenkampf mit dieser Zeit zu wagen... Schweizerischer Studentenverein 1841-1991. Maihof-Verlag, Luzern, 1993, ISBN 3952002720

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