German Dueling Societies in ‘Non-Aryan’ Race Row

Matthew Day, Telegraph (London), June 17, 2011

Dating back to Napoleonic times and with a penchant for fencing with sharpened swords and colourful costumes, student duelling societies have become renowned as bastions of deeply conservative and right-wing thought.

But now divisions between liberals and conservatives within the societies have come to the fore after some members demanded the expulsion of a colleague because of his Chinese background.

Although Kai Ming Au, a member of the Mannheim fraternity, was born in Germany and had served in the army to some his lack of German blood rankled.

They cited a decision issued last year by the Deutsche Burschenschaft, the umbrella group the 100 fraternities belong to, that said members with “non-European facial and bodily characteristics” needed to be checked by a committee.

This apparent racial discrimination prompted comparisons with the infamous Nuremberg race laws of Nazi Germany when anybody deemed “non-Aryan” was excluded from public life. It also led to liberal duelling fraternities to stand up for Mr Au and defeat the conservatives who wanted him expelled in a vote at the annual Burschenschaft conference.

But the standoff and better divisions between the two camps led Michael Schmidt, a Burschenschaft spokesman, to warn that “a split in the fraternity is conceivable”, adding that he expected continued “heated debate” over membership criteria.

The blaze of embarrassing publicity surrounding the affair has also put the 10,000 duelling members on the defensive after years of living in relative obscurity on the margins of mainstream student life.

Stefan Dobner, from the conservative Munich-Arminia-Rhenania fraternity, denied allegations of racism, saying that “it is, and was, at all times possible for any German citizen to become a member of a fraternity, and it is wrong to say membership was restricted to so-called ethnic-Germans.” But this has failed to deflect withering criticism levelled at the fraternities.

“I think it is absolutely scandalous and shameful that German academics are supporting this,” commented Alexandra Kurth, an expert on German student groups, on the proposals to exclude people on grounds of race. “It’s an indicator of how established right-wing extremism is becoming in these groups.”

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  • sbuffalonative

    But now divisions between liberals and conservatives within the societies have come to the fore

    Let the liberals form their own dueling societies and run them as they see fit.

    What they can’t do for themselves, they seek to destroy.

  • Jeddermann.

    Dueling is still carried out to obtain the scar which is considered a status symbol. Especially by those students enrolled in medical or legal courses, the scar is a badge telling young women that the bearer is a person going places and very eligible as a candidate for marriage. And a piece of horse hair is often sewn into the would to accentuate the scar, make it appear worse.

    Dueling is illegal in certain areas of Germany but is still done under-the-table, surreptitiously. AND is often associated with the Nazi period, although dueling was practiced far before the 1930’s. Skorzeny the Nazi commando leader was noted for his jagged and repeated scars.

  • Jeddermann.

    “members with ‘non-European facial and bodily characteristics’ needed to be checked by a committee.”

    It is their country, isn’t it?

  • M

    Gosh, a GERMAN dueling society (are there others?) that only wants ethnic GERMANS – not paper “Germans” – who’d a thunk!

    Germany has no tradition of being a melting pot, nor does most of Europe. Why are the-powers-that-be so bent on turning all of Europe into something it can never be? The result has been chaos and conflict. The non-whites there have NO interest in assimilating and frankly CAN’T assimilate. Can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear, might be one way to put it. I’d think Kai Ming Au might at least have changed his name to something more, eh… Germanic, if he wanted to fit into a GERMAN society. Apparently he did not consider this option, nor do most others. The inevitable result? Chaos and conflict.

  • Mr.White

    “This apparent racial discrimination prompted comparisons with the infamous Nuremberg race laws of Nazi Germany when anybody deemed “non-Aryan” was excluded from public life. It also led to liberal duelling fraternities to stand up for Mr Au and defeat the conservatives who wanted him expelled in a vote at the annual Burschenschaft conference.”

    —————————————————————-

    So what’s the problem? Anyone read the Mexican Constitution lately? Non-Mexicans are specifically prohibited from serving in the Mexican Congress,and a host of other positions reserved strictly for those of Mexican blood. Being a naturalized Mexican citizens is still considered to be a condition worthy of exclusion in much of Mexican society.

    So where’s the concern for Mexico’s discriminatory pratices regarding those not of Mexican blood?

    Leave Germany alone!

  • SKIP

    Muslims over here (I’m in Afghanistan) have their own dueling societies, how else would they be able to cut off so many heads and there are NO Americans in their societies…well, there are some American blacks (not real Americans anyway) in that number, but real Muslims don’t acknowledge blacks as Muslims.

  • Anonymous

    As a longtime fencer, instructor, and sword collector, I own a set of 19th century German practice dueling schlagers and practice masks. I can tell you that they are like nothing you have ever seen. You can glimpse one in the silent film, “The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg.” These were for a specific kind of German inter collegiant dueling societies that admitted only top male students from good families. The duel takes place in a circle where there is no retreat. The shoulders and neck are heavily protected and the fencer wears goggles in a steel set that also protected the bridge of the nose. The entire point was to score a cut on your opponents cheek.The fencer must stand his ground, cut and parry, until one or the other has been wounded. The action is very fast. The resultant scar was considered a badge of courage. This is where the old characterization of the Nazi with the scar came from.

    I know that these dueling societies exist. These dueling societies and the fencing style have NEVER been part of the Olympics, or any sort of international sporting society. It has always been peculiar to Germany and lately, very much an underground society. The funny thing is that I thought they were illegal since WW2. So I wonder how an issue like this can go public anyway?

    These dueling societies represent the most conservative of the German population. That a non-German was admitted and that a row could result from his barring indicates that the conservative structure of Germany is very much in danger of collapsing altogether.

    These dueling societies are probably the last bastion of traditional German martial chivalry. Admitting a non-German, especially a non-white is like the sacred Japanese society of Samurai admitting a foreigner or non-Japanese. Again, there is always a double standard when whites have anything exclusively for whites.

  • Anonymous

    I want to add something to my post about schlager dueling. Modern fencing has been part of the Olympics from the start. In fact, the establishment of the modern Olympics was promoted by a French Baron who was a fencer himself, who is known as the “father of the modern Olympics. Fencing has since then, become more inclusive of diverse groups since any nation could enter teams in the Olympics. To this day, Europeans, both East and West,tend to dominate the sport. For this reason, there was a recent move for fencing to be eliminated from the Olympics (about 15 years ago). Since then, other nations and racial groups have occasionally fared better than they had. Once you make whites self conscious of themselves, they automatically give way. American women for example, have done well in women’s sabre in the past two Olympic games. (Sabre being newly established for the inclusion of women, and traditionally considered less artful than the other two point weapons).

    Fencing has a huge Western tradition based historically in the concepts of trial by combat, jousting, dueling (sword and pistol), and the gentlemanly codes of chivalry (which could be terribly demanding). Scholarship shows that it was the chivalric dueling codes that were the foundation of ideas like sportsmanship, and even the codes of groups like the Boy Scouts. This used to be widely understood in fencing in the U.S. However, the more it has become inclusive, diversified, the more the history of it has been ignored and even denigrated. For example, I have a friend who was once on the U.S. Olympic team in the 1980s. When we were speaking of fencing tactics recently, he characterized fencing as merely a game of attack and defense. I had just said that it was a game based on dueling, which it undeniably is. I sensed that my friend was too proud to give any credit to the influence of Western culture. This is a perfect example of how culture is lost through inclusion of non-cultural groups. The spirit of the thing becomes adulterated. The worst part is that he had married a French woman and now owns land in France. He had been assuring me that he was making sure that his kids spoke French and understood the culture, not realizing that he as a Japanese American was actually usurping and stealing culture, along with aspiring to French and European genetics, which is another kind of theft. My feeling is that transgenetics is real and no one can adopt another culture completely, because racial, tribal memories are genetically carried and are what makes a culture live. It is also why American culture is not really an extant reality; American culture is commercial pop-culture. The good parts of it are what remains of English, German, Scandinavian, and other European cultures. You can’t have the culture without its indigenous people,and without the indigenous people, the culture, nation, dies.

  • Anonymous

    Jedderman #3: I read a post on the topic of Chinese women coming to America to have their babies, that Singapore checks all foreign women applying to become Maids, with a pre-employment pregnancy test. This, obviously, to keep foreigners from claiming Citizenship for their babies born there.

    So Singapore can do a very intrusive test, to keep people from taking advantage of their Citizenship laws, but Germany can’t check people who don’t qualify as Racial Germans, to participate in the Fencing Clubs. I get it now. It’s called Hypocrisy, and the Liberals have been doing it for years.

  • Mike

    They have these societies here in Austria too, and some are explicitly for ethnic Germans only as basically one of the primary rules of entry (also that you must have completed the military service (leftist students tend to choose the civil service option instead), and be enrolled as a student). I too saw an Asian or two amongst some of the more liberal groups back when I was a student. As they tend to take on something of an elitist position, I’m sure many non-whites would see belonging to such a group as a bit of a status symbol. Personally I see it that one of the bastions of conservatism in student life should remain so and not be open to all and sundry.

  • KO

    If immigration were limited to microscopic levels, the occasional assimilated non-German could be comfortably admitted to a conservative society without a second thought. But in a world where internationalist liberals (left and right) are trying destroy western national identity and sovereignty, westerners do well to try to preserve themselves in all their social relations. A microscopic proportion of other races who are free of liberal ideology would likely be acceptable to a conservative society, depending on the circumstances. But an ethnic German liberal or non-ethnic liberal would have to be excluded. It would be suicidal to admit them.

    Contrary to one of the comments above, Germany was a melting pot of Germanic and Slavic peoples as far back as the 8th century. Jewish communities were “native” as far back as the medieval period as well.

  • Anonymous

    There are plenty of martial arts schools in China that won’t allow non ethnic Chinese. So what? I have no sympathy for Kai.

  • Jeddermann.

    “Non-Mexicans are specifically prohibited from serving in the Mexican Congress”

    Right! And a Mexican is not merely a naturalized person if born outside the country, BUT MUST HAVE MEXICAN BLOOD AS WELL! That is how almost all the world does things. YOU are not only a citizen but part of a nationality or a race or an ethnic group. As has been said, NOT just a “paper” citizen.

  • Antidote

    C’mon! The whole thing is racist and unfair. I suggest a court empaneled committee to monitor these clubs as they set up a program of affirmative action and inclusion. There have to be more Asians and Mohammedans in there, of course, but above all Deutschland and the dueling clubs need Africans! Bring in hundreds of blacks immediately to level the playing field! (Do pangas and machetes count as dueling?)

    And while we’re at it, are these clubs stag? Get with the program, you reactionary krauts! We want to see more and more frauleins with slashed faces!

  • olewhitelady

    I would imagine that similar groups in China or Japan might be just as race conscious.

    Ethnic-restrictive groups should do whatever the law of their nation allows and ignore the criticism of the left. If liberals have to use public pressure, instead of legal manuevers, to achieve their goals, then they probably believe there’s a possibility that they’ll lose in court.

  • Sissy White

    I have read Constantine Brown’s bio, WHIRLWIND (he was a top reporter for the old Washington Star newspaper). When he was in Germany, prior to World War I (one), it was a big thing these dueling societies. (He went to university there-no Nazis then.)

    I have misplaced the article, but one of the world’s top living experts (or the top) on swords, Hank Reinhardt wrote that Japanese fencing was nothing much, until the great master of modern Japanese fencing (whose name was in the article) modernized the techniques of samurai sword fighting in the 1500s.

    What inspired him were two Portuguese at the trading city of Nagasaki, fighting over a prostitute. The Japanese master then studied and restudied European fencing.

    This was a rather subtle article on debunking, so- called vaunted antique samurai fencing. The Japanese fencing techniques, like so much of Japan, is copied from the West with an oriental flavor.

    …and let the German fencing clubs alone.

  • john

    This hapless Chinese guy should start a Kung Fu society open only to ethnic Chinese. There must be a few of them living in the old Vaterland.

  • Sardonicus

    A basic human right for any moral society is freedom of association. Private clubs, with no governmental funding, should be allowed to exclude anyone they like, without giving reasons. Should I be angry because I can’t be a member of the red-headed league?

  • herman

    The Burschenschaften are typical for German student fencing fraternities, but they are not the most important ones. They were founded in 1817 by volunteers of the german liberation wars against Napoleon. The fraternities called “corps” are more numerous and are older, some dating back to the 18th crentury. While the Burschenschaften are nationalistic-patriotic, the corps are moderate-patriotic. These had often foreigners as members, quite often Americans. The corps of which I am a member, Thuringia Leipzig, e.g. accepted in 1868 an American student named Samuel Hanson Stone, who later became General Attorney in Louisville, Kentucky. Moreover, there were Roumanians, a Serb, English and French members, even an Afghan, the Emir Spandarat Khamsaracan Spandarian, but that one left after less than one year, i. e. before attaining full membership. The corps of today still accept foreign members, but these are not more than a few in each student generation, so that the basic German character of the fraternity is maintained.

    The Burschenschaften, corps and other fraternities were and are conservative and right-wing, but the Nazis had little sympathy for them. In 1936-1937, they came under pressure and closed down, one after another, only a few survived in the underground, but when the war broke out and all young men were drafted, that ended too. After the war when normalcy returned, they “reconstituded” and they live on, although with little publicity.

    The comments preceding mine are encouraging and show a lot of good sense, especially that of KO. I share his opinion that a few percent of foreign members can be quite interesting and a valuable asset, but that they should never be dominant.

    Herman

  • Wayne

    The worst part is that he had married a French woman and now owns land in France. He had been assuring me that he was making sure that his kids spoke French and understood the culture, not realizing that he as a Japanese American was actually usurping and stealing culture, along with aspiring to French and European genetics, which is another kind of theft.

    As an Asian, I have no real problem with Germans wanting a racially German, or white fencing club.

    However this statement by Anonymous wrote at 9:27 PM on June 17, that non-whites who marry whites is just absurd. When a non-white marries a white, it is the non-white who is ‘stealing’ white genes, but not the other way round?

    Whites are simply the greatest miscegenators in all of human history –just look at South America, Australia, or New Zealand. Everywhere whites go they have always had a tendency to get with the natives. What about the celebration of stories such as Pocahontas? Or Madam Butterfly? Or books like Sayonara etc ad nauseum. Or well before the era of modern PC.

    From the way many people go on about it here, one would think that whites only mate with non-whites out of some feeling of noblesse oblige. That is ridiculous. Go to East Asia, and see the way white men act like utter lechers around Chinese girls.

    Your Japanese friend may have married a white woman. So what? Good on him. How many white men marry Asian women, and are stealing Asian genes, and stealing Asian women from Asian men? So I suggest you quit your hypocritical whining.

  • Anonymous

    Miyamoto Musashi.

    So the story goes: ‘Walking along the dock’, ((Dishema an artificial island/pier in Nagasaki Harbor, Kyushu then the southermost part of Japan and thus ‘as far as possible’ from Japanese culture).

    Musashi viewed two men dueling or practicing and took them to be Euros from their weapons. From their actions, he began devising the concept of two-sword fighting.

    Unfortunately, Niten Ichi Ryu, which Musashi founded, relies on the use of blades of roughly equal length rather than the then-common European system of Rapier and Main Gauche because Japanese swords are largely cutting weapons which do not benefit as much from deflection of the thrust late in the game as a readily available means of taking your opponent off his attack line and letting your (6-10″ longer than a period Katana) Rapier into his defensive arc.

    This is why most such (European) weapons have extensive cross guards and basket hilt protection because they are used ‘on point’ (full forwards) to draw the attack early which Japanese systems almost never do because a cut to the wrist is so devastating once fully developed and the thrust so comparitively weak in terms of speed for length (common in curved sword systems).

    Rapier & Main Gauche

    http://goo.gl/6SKnM

    If you are going to deflect a cut attack effectively, it has to be early enough that you can prevent it from driving your own blade offline (diagonal cuts), opening your defenses, and this means having a longer reach to capture your opponent’s weapon before his wrist/s break over.

    However; if you have used your long blade to stop his, taking a step in to use a (Main Gauche equivalent) Wakizashi allows him to back off and recover when you are vulnerable in mid-step (he will recock his weapon and cut vertically against your lifted leg while it’s in the air).

    Niten Ichi Ryu says that the full engagement must happen at the initial contact. You Block -as- you step in and Cut or Thrust in the same movement. Hence, equal length blades.

    Niten Ichi Ryu

    http://goo.gl/UARRZ

    I have heard some reports suggest that while it was a _Portugese ship_, the swordsmen that Musashi witnessed were in fact Phillipino’s (common ‘merchant marine’ hireable sailors at that time and place), engaged in Kali/Escrima practice.

    Kali

    http://goo.gl/ej5qm

    That system uses similar length, cutting weapons from guard positions that have some commonality with the ‘Hawk’ style of Nito.