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|: Vivat academia, vivant professores! :| note 
Vivat membrum quodlibet,note 
Vivat membra quaelibet,note 
Semper sint in flore!'' :| note 
Gaudeamus Igitur, 4th stanza

Student societies come in many shapes and sizes. North America famously has the three letter fraternity and sorority. The United Kingdom has the students’ dining club. France has the Amicales étudiantes. Sweden has the Studentnation and Finland has the Osakunta. The Netherlands has the Corps. Spain and Latin America have the Tuna, Portugal and Brazil have the República de estudantes, and Italy has the Goliardia.

Germany, Austria and Switzerland, amongst other German-influenced countries,note  have what can be considered the single most famous and influentual off-shoot of student fraternity culture: Die Studentenverbindung, also known as Korporation.

As an institution, student fraternities have exerted a great deal of influence on German culture and history, often to the point that - while in many places, student fraternities are at best considered a cultural quirk of their country - in Germany, it is the country itself that can be considered a cultural quirk of the student fraternities, as they were a major driving force behind the Revolutions of 1848, and thus more or less directly responsible for the creation of a unified German nation. The modern German colors, while having precedent in both the Holy Roman Empire and a volunteer troop fighting against Napoleonnote , certainly were codified by Verbindungen with some of them having a distinct preference for black red and yellow (or two out of the three) to this day.

A Brief History

    Bursen, Nationes and the rest of the Saurierei - The Middle Ages and Rennaissance 
Universities in the modern occidental sense - that is, centres specifically designed to provide higher education and conduct scientific research - first sprang up during The High Middle Ages. They typically evolved from monastic schools and other religious institutions that provided training - to both fellow clergy, but also nobles and other privileged few - in the fields of theology, medicine and law. Cities like Bologna in 1088, Paris in the mid-1000s or Oxford in 1096 paved the way, while the German-speaking regions in particular were influenced by Charles University of Prague (the oldest university of medieval German-speaking Europe, founded in 1348), Vienna (1365) and Heidelberg (1386).

Since such institutions were few and far between, it wasn't unheard of that would-be students and lecturers would commute hundreds of miles from their native homes to the closest university, on foot. Since these were The Dung Ages, the journey was extraordinarily dangerous, and the existential risk would not abate upon arrival either; Many students were foreigners in a strange, distant land and neither knew the local laws and customs nor spoke the language (beyond, if they were lucky, Latin or French), and more often than not didn't receive enough of a remittance from home to support their stay. It didn't take long for students and lecturers who hailed from the same general area to organise into so-called Nationes (deriving from the Latin approximate for 'land of birth') even though the categorisation was very basic, and students were classified by little more than the cardinal direction that they had arrived from.note  Either way, these Nationes would see the emergence of what is presently known as Landsmannschaften ("Countrymanship"-type fraternities), but would also sow the seeds of nationalism in general and the modern nation-state in particular.

The Nationes chiefly functioned as a Weird Guild System of sorts. Many would set up charitable funds to help students in need - the so-called Burse (to which words like 'purse' and Bursche are etymologically linked). Others successfully lobbied for the interests of their members with the local feudal overlords, and starting from the 16th century, students in the Holy Roman Empire were even authorised to carry swords - a privilege only select nobles and soldiers were entitled to - to signify their social standing and protect them on their journeys. This, in combination with the Nationes' penchant for ethnic clashes and duelling, led to the emergence of academic fencing and many of their martial traditions.

    Enlightenment, Revolution and the schwarze Jäger - the 18th Century and the Napoleonic Wars 
With The Enlightenment came great advances in natural and human sciences, which went hand-in-hand with the increasing influence of university culture. It was during this time that Studentenorden (student orders) took form, which were however soon outlawed in the HRE (starting something of a trend for future student societies), which in turn led to the emergence of the first Corps. This repression didn't come for no reason. As students were privileged to travel Europe and be exposed to all kinds of radical new philosophical ideas, they became a driving force behind many of the movements for liberal political reform in a society that was dominated by the ideals of absolute monarchy and the left-overs of feudalism. Thus, many university-educated intellectuals became involved in The French Revolution.

When Napoléon Bonaparte invaded the Holy Roman Empire, many students in the German statelets looked forward to him sweeping away the HRE's decrepit feudal system, ushering in French revolutionary reforms and bringing about a modern liberal democracy. Needless to say, when Napoleon forced the dissolution of the HRE, he instead turned to autocracy himself, puppeting a portion of the old empire and placing Prussia and other states under military occupation. This naturally stirred resentment among the university elites, and when the German statelets united to oust the French forces, thousands of students enlisted, joining irregular military units such as the famed Schwarze Jäger (Black Hunters), formally known as the Lützow Free Corps.

While the actual fighting record of the Schwarze Jäger was less than impressive,note  many of its members (and casualties) were renowned artists like Theodor Körner, which meant that they benefited from excellent PR after the fighting had ended, becoming a core component of the modern German creation myth. The Free Corps' veterans would go on to found a new, uniquely German brand of student fraternity - the Burschenschaftnote  - in 1815, founding a generation of university students that still clamoured for liberal, democratic, republican and secular reform, but now tied together by a newly minted desire for German national unity (and a hefty dose of Francophobia, amongst other things). The Urburschenschaft's colours, which were based in the Free Corps' uniform,note  would be adapted as the German tricolour.

    The Vormärz and the Forty-Eighters - The early 19th century 
The end of The Napoleonic Wars was followed by the establishment of the 'Concert of Europe', a policy by which the pre-Napoleonic heads of state aimed to re-establish the Status Quo and dispel any notion of revolutionary reform. This period, better known in German as the Biedermeier period (and would later become known, rather ominously, as the ''Vormärz'' or 'Pre-March'), was marked by ultra-conservatism and as such clashed rather spectacularly with the Burschenschafters' ideals, who despised what they perceived as Spiessbürgertum.note  After a series of escalations, such as the assassination of Russian diplomat August von Kotzebuenote  and the anti-semitic Hep-Hep Pogroms,note  the authorities of the new German Confederation (which encompassed both the German states and the Austrian Empire) issued the Carlsbad Decrees of 1819, which banned Burschenschaften, placed universities under surveillance and censored the press. While many fraternities were subsequently forced to go underground, even these repressive acts wouldn't as much smother as fan the flames of revolution, which would eventually break out in 1848.

Like the last great revolution, the so-called "Spring of Nations" started in France, but this time quickly made the jump into the German Confederation. The revolutionaries successfully pressured the state governments into allowing liberal reformers to form constitutional assemblies in order to begin the process of transforming the loose confederation of German statelets into a unified country. Again, Verbindungsstudenten led the way, with university-educated intellectuals like Robert Blum and Friedrich Hecker being virtually over-represented in the assemblies. This spring was, however, short-lived; the liberals fell out over the question how many German-owned provinces should be included in the new nation,note  while reactionary and monarchist forces managed to regain the upper hand and fought back. After a period of brutal civil wars, the nationalist movements were defeated in every state.note  Some revolutionaries, like Blum, ended up being executed, while others, like Hecker, managed to flee to countries like the US. Other fraternity students however - most notably a young Corps student called Otto von Bismarck - had remained loyal to the old monarchies and rallied to the reactionary cause, and would rise to prominence in the post-1848 German lands.

    Kulturkampf - the late 19th century and the pre-war era 
While the revolutions of 1848 largely failed, they left the German world in a climate that made gradual liberalisation unavoidable. The people who had witnessed 1848 as Verbindungsstudenten had grown up enter high state offices, and the "radical left wing" ideologies of the turn of the century had tempered enough to become a moderate, mainstream trend in day-to-day politics. In short order student fraternities became not just socially acceptable, but fashionable once more. The years between the second half of the 19th century and The Great War can be safely considered their Golden Age, and for boys and men who attented school and university during that era, joining a fraternity was all but expected, not unlike membership in a club was for many men in Britain. This meant that most famous Germans, Austrians and Swiss of this time were somebody's Bundesbruder.

Student fraternities now catered to a wide variety of groups and tastes, to the point where even members of various noble families did not shy away from joining up during their respective university days, including future Emperors Wilhelm II of Germany and Karl I of Austria-Hungary and much of the rest of The Von Trope Family. It was also during this time that many traditionally disenfranchised groups got to join up: women (who were until recently barred from attending university) founded Damenverbindungen or sororities; and Jews (who fell victim to widespread antisemitism amongst ordinary Verbindungennote ) founded specifically Jewish student societies, who contributed heavily to the creation of the Zionist movement. The idea of having mixed sex Verbindungen or to admit Jews into not explicitly Jewish ones was sometimes discussed by more radically reform minded voices but rarely seriously considered. Even today many Verbindungen remain single sex and to some extent limited religiously or ethnically in various degrees of stating so openly.

As such, this period marked the student fraternity culture at its most vibrant, but inevitably at its most divided. One famous conflict, better known as the Kulturkampf, saw Burschenschaften and - traditionally Protestant - Corps pitted against a new generation of vocally Catholic fraternities, whom both protestants and nationalists accused of being overly servile to the Pope in Rome and putting the interests of the Church before those of their nation.note 

Otto von Bismarck, despite starting out as a high-born conservative Protestant, soon recognised the value of using the nationalist and conservative (both Protestant and Catholic) sentiments to strengthen Prussian hegemony over the (increasingly powerless) German Confederation. After managing to isolate and knock out geopolitical rivals left and right (most notably Denmark, Austria-Hungary and the French Second Empire), he would oversee the founding of the North German Confederation, whom he would help unify into Imperial Germany in 1871. In an ironic way, it was exactly the kind of German nation-state that many of the Burschenschaften of 1848 had envisioned, in all but flag.note  Bismarck would also go on to rally conservatives, liberals and nationalists against a burgeoning new foe common to all three groups: socialists, who themselves were a product of student fraternity culture, since not only Karl Marx, but also many later leading figures like (social democrats) Ferdinand Lasalle and Wilhelm Liebknecht were korporiert.

     Nazism, Communism and the 68ers - The 20th Century and present day 
During The Great War, many fraternity students enthusiastically supported the war efforts of the Central Powers, as they saw the defence of their homeland and its imperial ambitions against old rivals like France, Russia and Britain as their most sincere expression of patriotic duty. This of course led to a lot of 1914 war volunteers who (due to the horrific casualty rates) often did not return home alive, weakening the movement by depriving it of its leaders. In the Baltic States the old German-speaking elite which had formed the bulk of the membership of local Verbindungen was put on one side of the three-way civil war (Russian Bolsheviks, Baltic nationalists and a German-Baltic coalition with aid from the German army) and while emigration did not yet form a torrent, it was notable trickle. When the Central Powers were defeated and subjected to humiliating peace treaties at Versailles, Saint-Germain and Trianon (for Germany, Austria and Hungary respectively), the former Central Powers collapsed into new entities like Weimar Germany and the Republic of German-Austria, which were established as modern liberal democratic republics and were (at least intially) governed by social democratic-led coalition goverments. While much of those governments were also made up of former fraternity students, including Friedrich Ebert in Germany and Victor Adler in Austria, a majority of Verbindungsstudenten were generally opposed to these changes and aligned politically with the other two great political blocs, those of the Christian conservatives and the German nationalists.

A great number of fraternity students were nominally in favour of pan-Germanismnote  (including many liberals and socialists), but others also reveled in revanchismnote  of which many avidly supported the Dolchstoßlegendenote  - the notion that socialists and Jews had conspired with the enemies of the Germans to bring about the downfall of their empires.

These attitudes would dictate the complicated relationship that various fraternities would foster with the budding National Socialist movement. The Nazis found most popularity amongst nationalist fraternities like Burschenschaften, with whom they shared long-standing völkisch ideals - particularly antisemitism - and many early and major Nazis were korporiert, including Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Heß and Josef Goebbels. Other fraternity students came to support other reactionary movements like the German Conservative Revolution and Austria's Fatherland Front, who, while similarly authoritarian and anti-communist, were ultimately at odds with the völkisch totalitarianism of the Nazis.note  However, as mentioned before, many fraternity members chose to remain loyal to and actively take part in moderate democratic parties, openly opposing the Nazi party in the process. Amongst them was (later West German chancellor) Konrad Adenauer.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they lashed out against openly disloyal fraternities, dismantling them and arresting known members. Friendly fraternities were forcibly amalgamated into the National Socialist German Students' League, in-keeping with the Nazis' wide-reaching efforts of Gleichschaltungnote . Sororities and Jewish fraternities were actively destroyed, with only some sororities (and no Jewish fraternities) managing to recover after the war. During the Second World War, many conservative, liberal and other suppressed fraternities chose to go underground, with many fraternity students joining resistance movements like Austria's O5.

After the war, the political situation again dictated the ability of Verbindungen to resume their activities. While in West Germany their re-establishment tended to be relatively smooth (provided they had enough members who survived the war and kept living in Germany, which for obvious reasons was not the case with Jewish fraternities) and most of them could also re-acquire their (sometimes considerable) real estate, in East Germany the state was less tolerant and largely suppressed the movement. Of course in places east of the Oder Neiße line where virtually all ethnic Germans were expelled (and those who left were usually not friendly-disposed towards the idea of Verbindungen anyway) that marked the definitive end of their activity whereas some Verbindungen from the emerging GDR would "flee" to the West and re-establish themselves in West German university cities, which leads to sometimes rather confusing names in the style of "The old Leipzig based Silesia residing in Bonn" or some such trying to summarize their history at multiple places.

Given the political changes and an emerging knowledge economy (especially the Social Democrats, but also to some extent the CDU/CSU and even the FDP emphasized the ability of a Rags to Riches story through education) universities underwent major changes. While before the war being a university student had been something only a tiny minority could even dream of, now it became a mass phenomenon of broader society. Old rituals celebrating the "elite" status of university students and lecturers seemed increasingly quaint and there was the very justified question to everyone above a certain age "Where were you and what did you do 1933-1945?". University students were among those who asked those questions the loudest and the most frequently and thus a clash was inevitable. A particularly strong example was West-Berlin which both had many Verbindungsstudenten (some of them "fled" from East Berlin and the GDR) and many who went to Berlin to escape the draft. So of course German-nationalist Verbindungen and far left students clashed. This over time led to a development where Verbindungen are sometimes attacked and harassed by the local left and in general university students are either members of friends with members of Verbindungen or have nary a good thing to say about them - some of it based on The Theme Park Version. However, the dislike is often mutual and some (especially Burschenschaften) have Flanderized themselves into being even more right wing than the history might indicate.

The influence of members of Verbindungen in academics, culture, politics and the economy has also come under increasing scrutiny after the war with the "Lebensbundprinzip" ("principle of bond for life", see below) often being accused of leading to favoritism and clientelism. There are also cases in which the (perceived) political ideology of Burschenschaften is made an issue when their members aspire to politcal office, which is particularly common in Austria where the Burschenschaft Olympia which counts several prominent FPÖ and a few ÖVP members among its ranks is frequently accused of being a far right extremist group.

The Korporation - Fraternity Flavours

  • Katholische Studentenverbindung or Katholischer Studentenverein: The largest minority amongst the Studentenverbindungen, these fraternities subscribe to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Historically sprang up to champion the rights of the Catholic minority in Protestant-dominated regions (and as pendants to majority-Protestant or secular fraternities). Very popular with theologians, clerics and even the odd Pope. typically follow a pacific principle that forbids academic fencing (making them regularly nichtschlagend). Only rarely if ever admit non-Catholics, but are typically dismissive of any nationalist distinctions.
    • Christliche Studentenverbindung: Similar to the above, they are open to all Christian denominations.
    • Jüdische Studenverbindung: Fraternities for religiously or ethnically Jewish students. Once widespread in Germany and Austria, they were eradicated under the Nazis and have since become extinct.
  • Corps: While considered to be broadly socially conservative, Corps follow a strongly individualistic philosophy and reject discrimination on account of nationality, social class, faith or political allegiance. As staunch traditionalists, they generally practice compulsory academic fencing, but also suffer (thanks in part to their historically aristocratic clientele) from an elitist reputation. If nobles joined a Verbindung in the 19th century, it was almost always a Corps.
  • Burschenschaft: As the original form of the modern Studentenverbindung, Burschenschaften follow a wide range of ideologies. While traditionally adherent to strong classic liberal, secular and nationalist tenets that historically favour republicanism, pan-Germanism and the middle class, many have also become associated with German ethno-nationalism. Overwhelmingly practice academic fencing (with some notable exceptions). Membership is occasionally restricted along (often controversial) political or ethnic lines.
  • Landsmannschaft: Once the dominant proto-Burschenschaft form of fraternity, the Landsmannschaft is the direct successor of the medieval Nationes. Has historically embraced a nationalistic principle that's however been almost entirely eroded over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries by modernisation efforts that introduced, amongst other things, a principle of tolerance that allows for the admission of most male students. Similar reforms also caused the partial phasing-out of once-widespread compulsory academic fencing practices.
  • Damenverbindung and -corps: While an overwhelming number of Studentenverbindungen are male-only fraternities, a budding number of female-only sororities does exist. Started cropping up around the turn of the 19th century as women were first admitted to German universities, and their numbers swelled alongside women's emancipation efforts, peaking around the time of the Nazi power grab. After being effectively killed off at the time, the number of sororities has been once again steadily and rapidly increasing since The '70s. Academic fencing is, de facto, non-existent.
  • Legitimistische Studentenverbindung or Legitimistisches Corps: Being mostly a phenomenon amongst Austrian Catholic fraternities and Corps, legitimist fraternities pledge allegiance to a monarch rather than a nation (commonly the House of Habsburg-Lorraine). Are staunchly opposed to republicanism (viewing Europe's post-1918 republics as derivative at best and illegitimate at worst) as well as nationalism (for all the same reasons; pan-Germanism in particular). Advocate for the return to supranational, multi-ethnic constitutional monarchies (typically modelled after Austria-Hungary).
  • Sängerschaft and Musischer Studentenverein: Fraternities focusing on musical and performing arts.
  • Akademische Turnerverbindung and Turnerschaft: Gymnastical fraternities.
  • Akademische Fliegerschaft: Fraternities specialising on military and civilian aviation. Mostly extinct.
  • Akademische Ruderverbindung: Rowing fraternities.
  • Akademischer Seglerverein: Sailing fraternities.
  • Jagdverbindung: Hunting fraternities.
  • Forstakademische Verbindung: Forestry fraternities.
  • Agronomium: Agronomical fraternities.
  • Nautische Studentenschaft: Nautical fraternities.
  • Ferialverbindung: "Holiday" fraternities. Situated (rather atypically) in places without any institutions of higher learning.
  • Schwarze Verbindung: "Black" fraternities; Lack their own Farben, or colours, and therefore lack coats or arms and uniforms. As a result, their members wear formal (ie 'black') civilian attire.

The Activitas and Philisterschaft - Members and Hierarchy

  • Three basic classes of fraternity members exist:
    • Fuchs: ‘Fox’. Newcomers typically have to pass a probation period, for the duration of which they are 'objects of servitude' and perform the lowest of tasks without many of the rights of full members, while learning all the subtleties of being a Bundesbruder ahead of their Branderung and ultimate Burschung. On the upside, they often drink for free.
    • Bursche: A fully privileged, active fraternity member.
    • Alter Herr or Philister: ‘Old Sir’ or 'Philistine'. Burschen that have either graduated, retired or both, become members of the Altherren- or Philisterschaft, where they're largely freed from the Burschen's usual obligations, but are expected to finance and - to a certain extent - manage the fraternity where their younger, less experienced brothers fail. As per the Lebensbundprinzip, Philister are expected to remain so until death.
  • The Chargenkabinett (ChC) typically consists of:
    • Senior (x): The club president, the senior-most student and the tip of the executive branch. He also represents the fraternity externally.
    • Consenior (xx): Aids the Senior in carrying out his directives. Takes care of day-to-day matters and puts a bit of stick about.
    • Schriftführer (xxx): The clerk. Maintains the flow of communication and keeps the minutes.
    • Kassier (xxxx): The treasurer.
    • Fuchsmajor (FM): Is in charge of the Füchse. It is his duty to put them to work and duly prepare them for the Branderung and Burschung.
    • The Altherrenchargenkabinett (AHChC) usually sets up a parallel structure to form a shadow cabinet and advise the ChC.

Are you even satisfaktionsfähig? - Laws, Rules, Customs and Mores

  • These 4 Principles are widespread amongst fraternities, and are regularly (though occasionally only in part and in varying order) found in one's Wahlspruch (or motto):
    • Religio: Religion. Espouses the fraternity's devotion to their faith. Naturally most dominant amongst religious Verbindungen, like Catholic ones.
    • Patria: Homeland. Espouses a fraternity's sense of patrotism.
    • Scientia: Science. Declares a fraternity's devotion to academic and scientific pursuit. It's often expressed in through the hosting of lectures, debates and other educational events.
    • Amicitia: Friendship. Celebrates a fraternity's unity, solidarity and devotion to the welfare of its members (and sometimes even the student body in general).
  • The Wahlspruch: The motto of a fraternity, usually consisting of three words and be either in German or Latin. The most common variants are Ehre, Freiheit/Treue, Vaterland (Honour, Freedom/Loyalty, Fatherland).

Kneipe and Kommers - Feasts and Ceremonies

  • Stiftungsfest:
  • Krambambuli:
  • Reception:
  • Branderung:
  • Burschung or Burschifikation:
  • Landesvater:
  • Trauerkommers:
  • Convent:

The Cantusprügel - A Selection of Music

  • Gaudeamus igitur: An anthem that is regularly sung by most fraternities at most formal events. At its essence, it lauds students and student life, university, the country, admonishes sadness, mockers, and the devil, and warns the listeners that their lives are short and easily spent uneventfully.
    • Not all fraternities sing the song the whole way through. Some shorten it for sake of brevity, others eschew stanzas out of principle (sororities might do away with Vivat omnes virgines...note , Legitimists might do away with Vivat et res publica...note , and so on).
  • Wenn wir durch die Straßen ziehen: The song is, for all intents and purposes, a fraternity student's extended apology to his girlfriend for staying up late, partying hard, drinking copious amounts of booze and eyeing and/or having other girls. Notably, almost every line is expected to be altered, doctored, subverted or plain mondegreened in some way, making the end result usually a lot more bawdy, patriotic, witty or all at once.
  • Es hatten drei Gesellen: A somber song about three fraternity brothers enjoying life, until two of them die, leaving the surviving one to mourn their loss and drink on by his lonely self. It is usually sung only at two occasions: Upon a someone's admission into the brotherhood, and upon his death.
  • Die Gedanken sind frei: A song about the freedom of thought and how it can never be quelled, but also about desires and love. The song cropped up as a reaction to the repressive Carlsbad Decrees of 1819 and massively gained traction during Revolutions of 1848. Like many student songs, it made the jump into general public conscience early and has been often sung in defiance of perceived tyranny ever since (such as in Nazi Germany).
  • Ode an die Freude: Based on the poem by Friedrich Schiller, Ode To Joy celebrates happiness and the unity, brotherhood and the beauty it brings. The most famous version of it, by Ludwig van Beethoven, now serves as the anthem of The European Union. Like Die Gedanken sind frei, it gained traction worldwide as a protest song.
  • Krambambuli: A very lengthy-and-usually-abbreviated song espousing the divine-like attributes of the Feuerzangenbowle - a special seasonal punch (and ostensible panacea, for everything from broken hearts to bullet holes). Appropriately, it's sung, with increasing speed and vigour, during Krambambulikneipe.
  • Papst und Sultan: An "I Want" Song discussing a student's typical dilemma: Would he rather live like a pope (who gets the finest wine but is forced to live in celibacy) or like a sultan (who enjoys his Royal Harem but is banned from drinking by The Qur'an). The verdict: Why not be both?
  • Steigerlied: Traditionally a miners' anthem, starting with the traditional greeting "Glück auf!" (meaning 'good luck opening up a new lode'), this song is particularly popular amongst fraternities of technical universities specialising in mining and metallurgy. It has origins outside of fraternity culture and can be heard in soccer stadiums from the Ore Mountains to the Ruhr - some say the only time the notorious Ruhr Area soccer rivalvries are at peace is when the entire stadium sings the Steigerlied
    • What makes it even more interesting are the countless number of custom Fakultätsstrophen that have sprung up over the years to celebrate (and mock) people (and students) of other occupations, such as mathematicians, cooks, road workers, teachers, lawyers, etc.
    Veterinarians' stanza: |: Hat ein Leiden euer Pudel, geben wir ihm gleich die Kugel. :|note 
  • Als die Römer frech geworden (When The Romans Became Fresh): A humorous re-telling of the Battle of Teutoborg Forest (where Germanic chieftain Arminius' tribesmen wiped out Roman marshal Varus' legions), composed by Joseph Victor Scheffel in 1849. The parallels to the German war of liberation against Napoleon's forces are rather obvious.
  • Ich bin der Doktor Eisenbart (I Am Doctor Iron-Beard): a darkly comedic song about the various exploits of the titular Back-Alley Doctor (who's very loosely based on a real personnote ), who spends most of his time roaming the German lands and killing or maiming his hapless patients in a variety of comical ways, then claiming that they're all better now.
  • Im schwarzen Walfisch zu Askalon (In The Black Whale of Ashqelon): Set in faux-Bible Times, this song tells the story of a prophet drinking in the eponymous pub late at night, but when he finds himself unable to pay his tab, the innkeeper chucks him out. The song typically ends with the prophet climbing back in through the window and carrying on where he left off.
    • Plenty of custom Take That! variations of this song exist, including some that replace the prophet and innkeeper with fraternity students or public figures.
    Im schwarzen Walfisch zu Askalon, da saß Franz Josef Strauß.
    |: Der Wirt war von der SPD und warf Franz Josef raus. :|note 
    Im schwarzen Walfisch zu Askalon, da saßen zwei vom CV;.
    |: Die tranken zwar nur Apfelsaft, doch waren trotzdem blau! :| note 

  • Deutschlandlied: As many a trivia page will note, the German national anthem started out as a drinking song of patriotically-minded university students. While the melody is based (ironically) on Joseph Haydn's Imperial Austrian anthem, the lyrics were composed in 1841 by noted Burschenschafter August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben. Of the three stanzas, the first espouses pan-German unitynote  and not-so-subtle spite for All the Little Germanies; the second stanza celebrates German women, loyalty, wine and song (in that order); the third stanza meanwhile celebrates unity, justice and freedom. Needless to say, only the third stanza is (officially) sung these days. Despite what you may have heard, there Ain't No Rule (well, no law anyway) against singing the first or second stanza, but it is very frowned upon outside far right circles.
  • Burschenstrophe: Many fraternities have their own stanza - basically a mini-anthem - to celebrate their Burschia, usually based on the melody of a known student song.
  • Fuxenstrophe: The same as above, but for the Fuchsia.

The Mensur - Swordplay and Duelling

Plenis coloribus: A ‘who-is-who’ of famous fraternity and sorority members:

    Famous (and infamous) Korporierte 

Persons with their own page:

Other notables:

Burschensprache - A Useful Phrasebook:

Over the centuries, Verbindungen have given birth to a fairly widespread amount of vocabulary consisting not only of Gratuitous German (being sesquipedalian even by high German standards), but also Gratuitous Latin and Gratuitous French (the other two lingua francas that students historically had to deal with on a daily basis). Many of these words have made the jump into everyday German use, much to the point that their fraternity roots have become largely forgotten.
    Fachjargon for Beginners: Idioms, Synonyms and other Lingo 
  • Bierfuchs!: 'Beer Fox!'; The common call to summon a Fuchs functioning as the designated waiter. Never to be confused with “Bierjunge!”.
  • Bierjunge!: 'Beer Boy!'; A jocular non-insult specifically intended to provoke an impromptu 'beer duel' with another party within 5 Bierminuten, so that the other party can reclaim their honour.
    • Generalbierjunge!: The escalated version of the Bierjunge that challenges every single person in the room to consecutive beer duels.
    • Hängt!: 'It hangs!'; The general reply with which the other party voices their acceptance of the challenge and consents to a duel. It is generally to be uttered as soon as possible after the challenge, lest they become Bierschisser.
    • Hängt doppelt: 'Hangs doubly'; The escalated version of hängt, where the recipient not only agrees to the challenge, but doubles the amount to be imbibed.
    • Bierschisser: lit. 'Beer Crapper', fig. 'Beer Coward'; The label that the other party incurs if they decline the challenge or ignore it, and have thus failed to defend their honour. This can provoke disciplinary measures and earn them a stay in the Bierverschiss.
  • Bierverschiss: Amalgamation of 'Beer' and a noun meaning 'to be out of favour': A sort-of time-out state where Bundesbrüder who have made themselves culpable of fairly serious breaches of protocol are condemned to for a certain amount of time. While in that state, they are usually relegated to a secluded corner of the venue, and barred from drinking or conversing with other Bundesbrüder.
    • Sine sine, ohne mit dir kohlen zu wollen: Latin 'without without', followed by the German 'Without intending to char with you'; A formula that allows other Bundesbrüder to make an exception to the Bierverschiss and talk briefly with the miscreant.
    • Corporationsgericht: 'Corporation Court'; an ad-hoc tribunal staffed by members of the ChC to try egregious breaches of protocol or violations of the corporation statutes by its members. In the worst of cases, it can rule to revoke a person's membership.
  • Büffeln: 'Buffalo-ing'; A synonym for cramming or swotting for an exam. Has made the jump into colloquial German.
  • Bursche: Originally a term describing the member or beneficiary of A Bursa. Now describes a full fraternity member. Has also become a colloquial German term for 'boy' or 'young man'.
  • Cantus: Latin for 'song'.
    • Cantusprügel: 'Cantus cudgel'; A songbook.
  • Dixit!: Latin for 'he/she/it said'. A traditional way to conclude a speech or address in front of the assembly.
  • Fiducit!: Short form of fiducia (Latin for 'So be it'). A traditional phrase used to deliver a toast and a popular alternative to Heil dir!.
  • Fuchsenbesteck: 'Fuchs Cutlery'; Equipment that a Fuchs must carry with them at all times to better serve their senior members. Usually includes things like shoe polish, matches, cigarillos, chewing tobacco, snuff or (particularly amongst Swiss fraternities) white gloves as part of their uniform.
  • Fuchsenherrlichkeit: The state which reverses the seniority of all fraternity members and thus enables the celebration of a Fuchsenkneipe, which the Fuchsia commands. Must be proclaimed at the Kneipe's beginning and revoked at the end, lest it remains in effect indefinitely or not at all.
  • Heil dir/[Fraternity]: A standard phrase to toast a person or fraternity. Unfortunately, the phrase is contentious since it has exactly the same meaning as that other iteration of 'Heil'. But considering that this figure of speech is centuries old, Pop-Cultural Osmosis is in effect.
  • Hoher [Rank/Position]: 'High'; The formal way of addressing a member of the ChC or other fraternity functionary.
  • Löffeln: 'Spooning'; The act of voluntarily stärken oneself to either repent for a wrongdoing or just for the hell of it.
  • Kiste: 'Box' or 'crate'; A piano.
  • Mein Name ist Hase, ich weiß von nichts: 'My name is Rabbit, I know nothing.'; A phrase attributed to Victor von Hase, a Heidelberg law student who was put on trial in 1855 for aiding and abetting a Bundesbruder who had shot and killed someone in a duel. Despite facing jail time himself, von Hase famously kept mum.
  • Omnes ad locam!: Latin for, 'everybody to their places!', beckoning members during an event to return to their seats as the ceremony is about to begin or as the designated Colloquium is about to run out and the proceedings are set to move on.
  • Omnes sedeatis!: Latin command to 'All be seated!'
  • Omnes surgite!: Latin command to 'All rise!'
  • Pabsten: The act of being physically sick after drinking one beers too many. Derived from a thinly veiled pun on the German term for (and as an anti-clerical Take That! against) the Pope. Many a Catholic fraternity have long considered substituting it with “Luthern”.
    • Pabst: A specialised elevated sink to ensure a hygienic and dignified round of Pabsten.
    • Papstat: That which is emitted during the act, hopefully to be intercepted and contained by a Pabst.
  • Paulen: Neologism describing the act of behaving cheekily, rudely or combatively towards fellow Bundesbrüder.
    • Ohne Stoff ulkt man nicht: 'There's no clowning around without Stoff'; Maxim explaining that a certain amount of Paulen is acceptable if the miscreant in question is well-stocked with alcohol so that he's ready to 'do penance' if need be.
  • Pauken: 'Drumming'; Synonym for learning or studying.
  • Peto tempus: Latin for 'I ask for time'; The formula with which a Bundesbruder may ask for permission for leaving the table during a Kneipe or formal event (thereby forestalling the necessity for a Omnes ad locam command to be given).
    • Habeas: Latin for 'You have it.'; Reply of the Praesidium or Concharge to grant said permission.
  • Pressen: 'Pressing'; The act of drinking rapidly and/or excessively.
    • Presskeller: 'Pressing Cellar'; A secluded room a Bude put aside specifically for Pressen and Trümmern.
  • Silentium!: Latin for 'Silence!'; Command given to get everyone to zip it during formal proceedings.
  • Spießbürger: 'Spear Citizen'; A denigrating term for sterotypically petty, joyless and reactionary people that have been historically seen as opposing and oppressing Studentenverbindungen.
  • Stärk dich!: 'Strengthen yourself!'; With this command, senior Bundesbrüder can force junior ones to take a punitive drink of alcohol - the amount to be imbibed being entirely at the leisure of the senior one.
    • Satis!: Latin for 'Sated'; With this command, they can tell them to stop drinking.
    • Ad diagonalem!: Latin for 'To the diagonal'; Command to drink until the halfway-point of the glass is reached.
    • Ad fundum!: Latin for 'To the bottom'; Command to empty the glass entirely.
    • Causa?: Latin for 'Cause?'; Technically, the junior Bursche has the right to ask for the reason for the punishment, but they need not count on any legitimate answer, since a Stärkung can be ordered for any reason, such as...
      • Unakademischer Gesichtsausdruck: 'Un-academical facial expression'; The go-to justification when no better reason can be thought of.
  • Stell’s dir rein!: “Place it inside yourself” - ‘it’ being the Stoff at hand. Often humorously anglicised as ‘...Ryan’.
  • Stoff: lit. 'material' or 'stuff'; Synonymous for acceptable beverages that are allowed to be drunk at official events. These usually are only beer, wine and schnaps.
    Paulen for Advanced Inebriates: Insults 
  • Buxe: A pun on Burschenschafter (and the trousers of the Wichs), but can also be used as a riff on fraternal students in general:
    • Ackerbuxen: ‘Pasture Buxen’. Members of an Agronomia (agrarian order).
    • Babybuxen: High school fraternity members.
    • Bibelbuxen: Members of Catholic, Protestant or Christian fraternities in general.
    • Braune Buxen: ‘Brown Buxen’. Far-right or ultranationalist fraternity members.
    • Flautenbuxen: ‘Doldrum Buxen’. Sailing fraternity members.
    • Gewürzbuxen: ‘Spice Buxen’. See Curry.
    • Jodelbuxen: Choir or singing fraternity members.
    • Kaiserbuxen: Legitimist fraternity members.
    • Kleinbuxen: ‘Little Buxen’. See Babybuxen.
    • Kletterbuxen: ‘Climbing Buxen’. Turnerschafter.
    • LEGObuxen: Engineering and polytechnic fraternities.
    • Paddelbuxen: Rowing fraternities.
    • Pimmelbuxen: ‘Dick Buxen’. Male-only Fraternities.
    • Schmierölbuxen: ‘Axle Grease Buxen’. Weinheimer polytechnic fraternities.
    • Schrotbuxen: ‘Birdshot Buxen’. Hunting fraternities.
    • Territorialbuxen: Landsmannschaften.
    • Tittenbuxen: Self-explanatory. Sororities.
  • Buxig: Adjective for something negative that can be attributed to a Burschenschafter's typical behaviour.
  • Curry: A riff on Corps students.
    • Grüne Curry: ‘Green Curry’. Fraternities infamous for their disgusting practices or nauseating behaviour.
  • Landser: A riff on Landsmannschafter (and the Nazi-era military rank of the same name).
  • Phritte: Possibly the worst slur a fraternity student can throw at another. Depending on where it’s uttered, it can provoke serious disciplinary measures.
    • Phrittenbude: A Bude full of Phritten. Not to be confused with the identically pronounced ‘Frittenbude’, which just means ‘chip shop’.

Tropes associated with Studentenverbindungen:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Brought to its logical conclusion, considering just how vertical the power structures are. Naturally, they are private clubs rather than associated with the universities themselves, so it doesn't usually translate into student life, especially since academic pursuit is the one of three things that all fraternities agree outranks fraternity obligations - the other two being health and family.
  • Altum Videtur: If something can be said in German plainly but sounds more splendidly when uttered in Latin, chances are it is uttered in Latin. This is more or less mandated by tradition, since the fraternities sought to show off their erudition and their education at their respective universities.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Ignoring the hats themselves, the average Studentenverbindung's dense volume of traditions, protocols and high requirement of expert knowledge can even put some Masonic lodges to shame. This pseudo-secretive behaviour was of course enforced at several points in history, as fraternities were often outlawed and its members persecuted, making it necessary to invent means to organise themselves right under the authorities' radar and spot any infiltrators.
  • Bling of War: Their Vollwichs is usually styled after 19th century cavalry uniforms with some 16th century Landsknecht attire thrown in. But usually with more and brighter colours and a lot more flairs - which, considering the source material, is saying something.
  • Boots of Toughness: Regular part of the Vollwichs are cavalry boots extending to, or beyond, the knees. Most fraternities however resort to aptly-named Kanonen - black leather chaps worn over black dress shoes to harken back to boots.
  • Drinking Game: Beer, Wine or Schnaps duels are highly ritualistic versions of this trope. Being intended to settle minor matters of honour, they have more in common with Ten Paces and Turn than the average Drinking Game. The goal is generally to finish one's drink first and do so cleanly and completely. Depending on the Comment, both sides can employ the services of an arbiter and seconds. The quality of each others' drinking performance can additionally be reviewed via a traditional Nagelprobe (literally 'fingernail test'') to ensure that no cheating or sloppiness transpired.
  • Dueling Scar: Pretty much the Trope Codifier.
  • Germanic Depressives: The culture of Kneipen, and the celebratory side of fraternity life in general, was conjured almost specifically to defy the archetype of the Spießbürger that was originally associated with new German middle class during the (extremely conservative, post-French Revolution, post-Napoleonic) Biedermeier period.
  • Germanic Efficiency: Subverted. In theory, it is enforced through its reasonably complex system of etiquette, hierarchy and even a certain amount of due process. In practice, the stereotypical fraternity student has a slovenly and cavalier attitude for many rules, which make a strict enforcement especially necessary.
    • This is why most fraternity events make allowances for the academic quarter (typically marked in official writing as c.t. or cum tempore, literally translating to "with time"). Any person who arrives later than that will be forced to einpauken ("drum oneself in") with a glass of alcohol.
    • This trope is expressed in a particularly odd way through the widely popular '§ 11': The stipulation that the drinking must never abate.
  • Hat Damage: Many fraternities impale their caps on their own blades while reaffirming their oaths every year. This sometimes just serves to decorate their outfit further with customised patches.
  • Hat of Authority: Every Verbindung (that isn't a Schwarze) has its own type of ostentatious headgear in their own colours.
    • The most popular variants are:
      • The Cerevis (pillbox-type forage caps worn on the forehead - standard head cover for most fraternities' Vollwichs).
      • Deckel or Tellermütze ('lid' or 'plate cap'; peaked caps). Also widespread among Scandinavian Studentnationer.
    • Other popular designs are:
      • Renaissance-era plumed berets.
      • Stürmer ('stormers'; kepi-style forage caps with propped-up tops).
      • Tonnen ('barrels'; pillbox-type forage caps worn on the scalp).
      • Hinterhauptcouleur (‘back-of-the-head Couleur’; smaller Deckel worn on the scalp).
  • Initiation Ceremony: Come in several flavours, often marking different stages of their fraternity progression. Apart from passing the examinations, the most popular ones include chugging an entire mug of beer ad fundum (popular at Receptionen), chugging a really big, multi-litre mug, chugging a disgusting Brandergetränk, the Branderung itself, singing, reading a poem, and (of course) the Mensur (ie compulsory fencing).
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: The American beer label Pabst causes no end of hilarity amongst Verbindungsstudenten since (while technically a perfectly acceptable German surname) it has quite a different (though still beer-relevant) meaning for them.
  • Mildly Military: Several traditions are lifted straight from military culture, such as the act of carrying bladed weapons, dueling, marching in cadence, the Military Salute, uniformal headgear, cavalry inspired Vollwichs, or the carrying of flags and standards with a dedicated colour guard. Beyond that however, military rigour is (usually) pretty much nonexistent.
    • It helps that, historically, Verbindungen often formed skirmisher units in times of war (the most prominent example being the original Lützow Free Corps), which even then often turned out to be military units in name only.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Convente have an almost legendary reputation for veering into petty squabbling and minor drama - if enough people bother to turn up at all, anyway.
  • Pet the Dog: Many fraternities celebrate a Fuchsenkneipe, during which the seniority of all members is reversed, along with all the privileges it implies. The slave-like Füchse become top dog for one evening, with the youngest Fuchs becoming Senior.
  • Serious Business: The upholding of core values and the Comment is treated by most fraternities with various degrees of seriousness, especially in the face of outside ridicule. Particularly Corps and Burschenschaften have reputations for being sticklers for protocol.
  • Sigil Spam: Members of farbentragende fraternities have the tendency to sneak their coat of arms, their Zirkel and particularly their colour combinations into the weirdest of places - not just uniforms, flags and official signatures, but also mugs, rings, lapel pins, ties, t-shirts, smartphone covers, hip flasks, wristwatches, pocket watches, coasters, tiles, bricks, bumper stickers, and so on. Also this practice has its roots in their requirement of secrecy (as detailed under Brotherhood of Funny Hats).
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: See also Altum Videtur.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Compared to their American counterparts, the Studentenverbindung's much more formalistic nature and pseudo-martial image makes them natural snobs. In reality, the rift is often however purely aesthetic.
  • Staff of Authority: Many fraternities and sororities who chose to forego the militaristic imagery of carrying Schläger and sabres often opt for Bummler, massive (usually wooden) knobbed canes that generally serve the same ceremonial purpose as Schläger.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Oftentimes, a strict adherence to naming protocols is enforced, where members are expected to address each other by their position.
    • Even though the traditional etiquette amongst (non-fraternal) university students allows them to address each other with the informal "Du" even as total strangers, many Comments still consider the formal "Sie" a must. Any ascent to the fabled "per du" must first be earned.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The stereotype (which has been affectionately adapted by Couleurstudenten themselves) dictates that fraternity students are invariably snooty, brand-obsessed upper-middle class types that wear as their Trademark Clothing Ray-Ban glasses, pastel-coloured polo shirts, folksy Janker jackets, waxed Barbour coats, garishly-coloured slim corduroy trousers and Timberland deck shoes. Basically, they're considered the dark European twins of the WASPs.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: While somewhat more restrained than in many American fraternities, it is customary to steal unattended Couleur (and, occasionally, kidnap unattended Füchse) and then have them bailed out with copious amounts of alcohol. During Kneipen, it is also possible to steal unattended blades from the Praesidium and initiate a Contrakneipe until the original Praesidium pays up.

Studentenverbindungen in fiction:


  • In the Get Smart Movie, Ziegfried reveals that he got his Schmiss Dueling Scar fighting Mensur in Heidelberg against his own brother.
  • In the 1996 film version of Hamlet (which updates the setting to the mid-19th century), Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern — being two old college buddies of Hamlet from Germany — make their debut draped in fraternity bands and wearing Stürmer caps.
  • In Heinrich Mann’s satirical novel Man Of Straw (German title "Der Untertan"; literally "The Subject"), the cowardly protagonist Diederich joins a fencing fraternity and begins to antagonise his fellow students so he can earn his Schmiss Dueling Scar and get ahead in Imperial German society. It was adapted into a film in 1951 and a BBC mini-series in 1974. The 1951 movie was produced in East Germany and for a long while never shown in cinema or TV in West Germany as apparently the Powers that Be thought it hit a bit too close to home.
  • In Wilhelm Meyer-Förster’s play Old Heidelberg, a young heir to a throne somewhere in Imperial Germany is sent to university in Heidelberg, incognito, and decides to join a Corps so that he can have the time of his civilian life. Received several adaptations, such as Ernst Lubitsch’s The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg.
  • Mondo di Notte visits a schlagende Burschenschaft in West Berlin and offers (in best Mondo fashion) an uncensored look at a Mensur duel.
  • In The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Lieutenant Candy winds up picking a fight with a German agitator who turns out to be a Burschenschafter in turn-of-the-century Berlin, which quickly spirals into a minor diplomatic incident with the entire German army officers' corps demanding Satisfaktion from him. Both Candy and his opponent end up limping away from the Mensur with duelling scars, though Candy - in stark contrast to the Burschenschafter - decides to grow a moustache over his rather than putting it on full display.
  • In the Swiss political drama Der grosse Kater, the eponymous character (the aging federal president) still uses for a nickname his vulgo "Kater" ('Cat'), from his time in the student fraternities.


  • In Glory Road, Gordon considers stopping by Heidelberg so he can earn a Schmiss Dueling Scar or two.
  • In Royal Flash, Flashman is forced by Otto von Bismarck to impersonate a Danish prince who touts a Schmiss Dueling Scar. In order to maintain the disguise, Flash is also subjected to the proper way to earn them: Mensur (by some accounts, badly). It too received a film adaptation in 1974, starring Malcolm McDowell.
  • In his autobiography The World Of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig mentions his encounters with both Burschenschaft and Corps students during his university days. He recounts being not at all smitten with what he describes as their bellicose, macho-masochistic and ultranationalisic manners (or lack thereof).
  • The aptly-named Three Men On The Bummel devotes whole passages to describing German student fraternity life from an English perspective, including the ubiquitous Mensur.

Live-Action TV

  • In an episode of Münster’s Tatort, a skeleton of a member of a local schlagende Burschenschaft is found. Investigator Boerne himself turns out to be a member of that same Burschenschaft, much to his colleagues’ horror. Hilarity Ensues as Boerne becomes a Tour Guide Detective into their world. Given that his partner Thiel is a fan of FC St. Pauli (cliched as being a leftist pursuit) and especially those fraternities that are schlagende Burschenschaften are widely seen as a right wing pursuit, the Odd Couple humor this episode derives from the cliches is almost enough to fill the entire episode.
  • Babylon Berlin:
    • Jänicke and Ulli are shown to be members of the same Academic Ruderverbindung in Wannsee.
    • While not explicitly revealed to be korporiert, Colonel Wendt and Major Beck sport very obvious Duelling Scars, as do Gustav Stresemann and Gustav Böß (who indeed were both korporiert in Real Life).
    • Dr. Voss, an infamous reactionary Hanging Judge, has an entourage of what a character refers to as Corps students. The Real Life Voss, on the other hand, was a Burschenschafter.
    • Throughout the series, students in Halbwichs can be seen in various background shots.
  • In the mini-series Füxe, a student (and Kosovar emigré) rents a room from a Corps, and ends up joining as a titular Fuchs.


  • When Johannes Brahms received his honorary doctorate from the University of Breslau (modern-day Wroclaw), he returned the favour by composing the Academic Festival Overture (Op. 80), which is essentially a potpourri of fraternity drinking songs (such as the Reception anthem Was kommt da von der Höh), with Gaudeamus Igitur forming the triumphant finale. The jury's still out on whether Brahms was secretly making fun of the university by basing the overture on something so reasonably bawdy.
  • In their Music Video Moritat vom Kriegsminister Theodor Graf Baillet de Latour, Austrian cabaret duo Christoph & Lollo recount, in graphic detail, the murder of Count Latour, the Austrian Minister for War, at the hands of a mob during the Revolutions of 1848, where fraternity students feature prominently.

Web Comics

  • Phrittenbude is an ongoing three-panel comic series about the adventures of two stereotypical (and utterly detached) fraternity students from nondescript (one-colour) fraternities.

Web Video

  • The Russian-language Latvian fraternity Arctica produced a short-film-cum-music-video for the Krambambuli song, featuring a plethora of fraternity tropes and imagery.

Western Animation

  • In Batman: The Animated Series, villain Arkady Duvall earned a Dueling Scar in his Heidelberg university’s “fencing club”. While that seems to allude to Mensur practices, it is (erroneously) referred to more like an extracurricular sports activity.

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