19th Century Dueling Societies
August 6, 2012 2:53 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find detailed, English-language information on the initiation rituals, and other rites and customs, of 19th-century German dueling societies, or "burschenschafts"? I've found some excellent overviews (like this one) but I'm looking for a step-by-step account of exactly how a new member would be initiated.

Online and print sources are both helpful, as is any other source of information on other aspects of burschenschafts.
posted by yankeefog to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Unfortunately I only find german sources. Your linked article also looks very detailed already...
Important to know is that "Burschenschaften" are student fraternities first and foremost.
Some of the Burschenschaften are "schlagende Verbindungen", or dueling fraternities.

Before joining a Burschenschaft you are a "Fuchs" or Fox, not a full member, for 1-3 semesters. There is a test at the end where you have to answer some questions from a Jury.
You will then get the colors and the hat of the fraternity and do an oath on the Burschenschafts "constitution".

I think the most important initiation to a dueling fraternity would usually be the "Bestimmungsmensur". A duel with a member of a rival fraternity. Usually they would have to formally insult them ( "I hereby offend you").

You can see a scene from Der Untertan depicting this process on youtube.

Also always important are the drinking rituals.
posted by ts;dr at 4:13 AM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: Danke, ts;dr. That's very helpful.

If you have links to any other websites but you didn't include them because I asked for English-language sources -- feel free to post them! I was able to understand the "Constitution" page you linked too pretty well, using Google translate.
posted by yankeefog at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2012

If there are any biographies of Otto Skorzeny, there may be some hints there.
posted by rhizome at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2012

There is some passing information in Arthur Schnitzler's autobiography, My Youth In Vienna, about German nationalist student societies (including dueling societies) in Vienna in the 1870s, mainly regarding their anti-Semitism. (For example, one society had the rule that since Jews are not fully human, they cannot technically ever claim offense for anything said or done against them, so no German would be obliged to respond if a Jew demanded satisfaction in response to an insult of any kind.)
posted by scody at 4:16 PM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, Rhizome and Scody!
posted by yankeefog at 6:40 AM on August 8, 2012

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