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A Studentenverbindung (the umbrella term that includes the Burschenschafts) is a German student corporation.



A corporation in Germany, Austria, Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe consists of the active students, who study any academic subject at a university, and the already graduated Alte Herren (Elder Gentlemen or alumni)/Hohe Damen (High Ladies) that have once been active in the corporation. Alte Herren and Hohe Damen are also called Philister. 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 noble rooms. Some argue that corporations actively try to get new members through these low-priced rooms which they then socialize to their traditions.

The corporation is mostly financed by the Alte Herren, who also take care of the students' career -- they help them in their subjects of study and in other areas of life, up to organizing good jobs and possibilities for the younger students. This networking is also seen as problematic by other students and most students' unions. In turn, the active students when becoming Alte Herren finance and help the then-actives.

Corporations are organized in umbrella organisations; for example there is the Cartellverband der katholischen deutschen Studentenverbindungen (CV), the Kartellverband Katholischer Studentenvereine (KV), Weinheimer Senioren-Convent, the Coburger Convent, the Deutsche Burschenschaft, the Verband der Vereine Deutscher Studenten or the Kösener Senioren-Convents-Verband.


Most of the current corporations originate in the early 19th century, as does their tradition. This includes ideals of freedom, democracy and tolerance as well as a tendency towards conservativism. Beer, commercium songs and academic fencing also play a big role in many corporations. One prominent item in corporations' tradition is the Wartburg festival in 1817 (see Vormärz era).


One part of the tradition is the academic fencing, which is a ritualized duel, but without the possibility for anyone to win. Unlike earlier times nowadays the chance of light injuries is smaller however still common. Fatal or serious injuries are factually impossible. The fencing is seen as a ritual of fighting for the corporation and for their ideals.

Many student societies do not permit their members to fence though. Members of catholic and other christian fraternities for instance, which share a good part of tradition with the Corps and Burschenschaften, get dismissed when they admit to having been involved in academic fencing.

The traditional symbols (couleur) corporation members wear -coloured caps and bands- are seldom seen today at universities.

The most common kinds of Studentenverbindungen

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

type of corporation 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,


catholic corporation (not wearing Couleur) nc, nf KV, UV, ÖKV 126
Landsmannschaft wc, pf CC, ÖLTC 73
other christian Studentenverbindungen mostly wc, nf Schwarzburgbund, Wingolf, Wartburg-Kartell 61
Sängerschaftand fine arts corporations wc/nc, fo/nf Weimarer CC und SV 44
academic gymnastic clubs nc, nf ATB, ATBÖ 41
Verein Deutscher Studenten nc, nf VVDSt - KV 40
Turnerschaft wc, pf/fo CC und MK 34

Caption: wc=wearing couleur; nc=not wearing couleur; pf=practicing academic fencing; fo=academic fencing optional; nf=not practicing academic fencing

Are corporations racist, nationalist, chauvinist?

Most of the corporations consist of men only, many corporations are mixed-gender, and there are some corporations which consist of women only. Some of the traditional orientations as well as misbehaviour of a minority of the corporations regularly leads to prejudices about all of them being right-wing and chauvinist. The vast majority of the corporations see themselves as liberal and tolerant, whereas others are described rightly as deutschtümelnd (nationalistic). For example, the party ranks of the Freedom Party of Austria to a large proportion consist of members of such corporations (whereas members of Catholic corporations are strongly represented within the Austrian People's Party).

Most corporations, like Corps, Landsmannschaften and Turnerschaften allow members with any skin colour, nationality and religion. Christian corporations may be restricted to a specific confession or Christian belief. Others are very choosy, e.g. many Burschenschaften restrict membership to people from German heritage. Alleged connections between corporations and right-wing organisations are a constant issue for many (left-wing) students' unions and anti-fascist organisations in Germany. Hostilities from extreme-left student unions and "anti-fascists" are also a constant issue for student corporations.

See also: fraternity, fraternities and sororities

External links

fr:Corporation (Université) nl:Studentenvereniging pl:Korporacja akademicka


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