Talk:Academic fencing

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The chapters 1 and 2 of this discussion are more or less worhtless, they are just the generalised opinion of one individual. Keep in mind: a "Burschenschaft" (or here written as "B!") is not the generic term for a German fraternity, but just the name of one specific group: there are many more fencing fraternities such as the "Corps" or "Landsmannschaften" who represent the majority of fencing fraternities and are compeletely different in their character and the background of their members than the "Burschenschaften" (families of commoners, noblemen, military, industrialists or politicians all prefered and still prefer different kinds of fraternities).

This article, like so many on Wikipedia, incorrectly capitalized German nouns. This is the English Wikipedia. German nouns should not be capitalized unless they are proper nouns.


the origin of the Burschenschaften (B!) was not only comradeship, but it had a real politcal background: in 1813 it was a revolutionary movement for the union of Germany (against feudalism and the many many tiny states that disenabled a strong german policy). the students - being protagonists of the elite of the society, were fighting in these groups for freedom of thought and political influence of the citizens.

over the years the political directions got adapted to the changes of history - f.e. the B! in the eastern regions of the empire (Silesia etc.) got more important when those regions were in danger, many B! of our time have names that remind of those lost territories. During Third Reich they got technically eliminated and had to surrender fully to German Students Union. Of course many continued their work in the shade. The B! had many losses of lives during their history and monuments remind of those times (Eisenach, Jena etc.)

note that even Theodor Herzl (the founder of Israel) and Viktor Adler (and others) were members of very extreme nationalistic B! . but of course many famous non-jews were in B! as well. this I mention because in today's Germany/Austria the socialists try to emerge a certain nazism out of the B! in general (by "genetical reasons" one could almost say...), but these people don't know about those famous jewish-members (or they don't want to know).

as there are many B! in Austria and Germany, they have a wide political horizon (but always being conservative) - some are christian (Kartellverband), some are rather supporting the nobels (Corps-Studenten) others are truly German-national, which is getting important in Austria before (and after) WW I, when the torso of the Habsburg empire was without orientation and many of the german-ethnical citizens wanted to unite with Wilhemine empire.

those with the Mensur (duells) are the German-national orientated ("Schlagende Verbindungen"). they see the Mensur as a ritual/test for manhood, bravery and discipline. to become a "Bursche" one has to run through several, strictly defined states/positions, each student has to do several Mensuren, which are as well strictly regulated.

besides that the B! support the students during their period at the university, the houses (they all have very nice old houses, where the boys can stay for less money) are meeting points for communications of all kinds. the seniors (Altherren) help along as much as they can, as well with jobs etc.

they wear their ribbon and their kepi, each B! has it’s own traditional colours. Many ribbons are black-red-gold, to manifest their support of the great-german solution (Großdeutsche Lösung) in opposition to those wearing the black-white-red ribbon – but this would lead too far into german historical details.

all of these things are private, no public is allowed, women are only present during public-days, feasts, balls etc. there are also girls-groups (Mädelschaft), but these are rather groups for communication etc.

all in all the B! are one last bastion of "good old Germany", they are of course very conservative and they try to offer the youngsters something beyond Mc-Fat and Coca Cola…

needless to say that the socialists tried to turn that down several times and the so called anti-fascistic-groups try to disturb conferences organised by the B! (ILSA, 16.4.06)


what is the difference between Austrian and German B!? the Austrians are known to be tougher: each Mensur is strictly regulated, the duellants have their "servants" etc. (I think one has 3 or 4 adjutants (taking care of the gauntlet, the protective clothes/coat of mail, the wounds etc. ), a doctor must be present etc. and each one has his judge, who takes care of the duell and the health of his "paukant" (=the duelling guy). the Austrian judges are known to go to the very end, whereas the germans often break up in the middle, before it's getting too hard.

needles to say that the scars are worn with pride - and the opponent is fully respected.(ILSA, 16.4.06)

No idea where you get your information from but all those rules and regulations appply to the Mensur in Germany as well. Have you even seen a Mensur in Germany? As to being tougher: I've heard wild claims about Austrian fraternity students duelling with sabres and guns but as far as I can see, those are urban legends. A schmiss just shows that either the other guy was better or you made a stupid mistake. (Cornelius, 28/12/06) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 12:20, 28 December 2006 (UTC).

3. LAST NOT LEAST:[edit]

Otto Skorzeny's Schmiss is a very famous one, but could someone add some mensur-pics on here? there are plenty in the net (don't know how to do that). (ILSA, 16.4.06) Picture is available in high-res and seems to be wiki compatible. ~~ 10.28.2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:41, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

New Photo of a Schmiss[edit]

I propose to use this photo:

Felix Busson (* 1874 in Graz, Steiermark; † 1953) Member of Corps Joannea Graz and Schacht Leoben, both in Austria.

It is already compliant to wiki standards and less political.

To use a Nazi Officier, whose face scars were even partly caused by war injuries, is somewhat misleading for readers, who are not used to the history of Studentenverbindungen in Germany.

It was much more common to join a Studentverbindung in the early 20th century. But the Nazi ideology has nothing to do with the ideas of most german Studentverbindungen. Their roots go back to the ideas of the enlightenment and emancipation, not to say democratic participation. The idea of responsibility and accountability was the very foundation of most Verbindungen. The Nazi ideology, with its "völkischen" (racial) conception and the "Führer-Prinzip" (leader-doctrine) is a counter-movement to the development in the 19th century. But some kinds of Verbindungen (e.g. Burschenschaften) could adapt to the Nazi rules better, than others e.g. the Corps. Ultimately they all had to "close their doors" by 1934-36. Most did this as a preemptive measure before they were closed by the Nazis. Noteworthy is also, that the Nazi Movement is not an academic one. Members came early from the lesser educated classes of the society (e.g. see the SA). Yet Goebbels is the exception. Additionally I might add, that I am not very familiar with the history of the Austrian Studentenverbindungen and their relations with the NS.Swiss safe (talk) 09:48, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

The scar in the face of Mr Skorzeny is definitely a war injury. This was already discussed in the German WP. --Rabe! (talk) 14:04, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
in the colored version of the photo, you can clearly see those are not fencing scars. Or maybe they used chainsaws.
according to this page you can see O.S. just after the mensur, when he got his fencing wounds. They look nothing like the scars you see on the pictures in the 40s. The picture seems to be taken from the book "Otto Skorzeny. Meine Kommandounternehmen" (talk) 15:54, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

Badge of Honor?[edit]

It's also praticed in the Baltic countries an Poland again I think.

I am not happy with the following part:

"The scar resulting from a hit is called a Schmiss (German for a "smite"), or Renommierschmiss (bragging scar), and is regarded as a badge of honor: a form of ritual scarification Wounds are typically sewn up rather crudely, in order to provoke scarring."

Otto Skorzeny

A Schmiss is still some form of honor badge but they aren't collected anymore as it was usual in earlier times, most students will accept them but aren't keen on getting one. Fighting has become more defensive. Also nowadays the wounds are treated with more care and exessive scarring isn't usually provoked (that would be in fact most unusual).

Feel free to edit! Admittedly some of the article came from historical descriptions of a time when gross scarring was prized - guys really did want to look like Otto Skorzeny - and the Jonathan Green article bears out that attitudes have changed. Tearlach 00:51, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps a link, or the image itself (at right) could be added to the main page? There's no better way to show a Schmiss. -HiFiGuy 04:51, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
@User:HifiGuy:this is Wikipedia not Vanity Fair (magazine). This Schmiss is not average, its extreme and awful. This picture in the article would cause a neutrality warning right away.--Kresspahl 18:26, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
Someone got another photo of a Schmiss? I was thinking of adding a link to Otto on the page, but thought that'd be out of place. Or, how about changing the caption to indicate that his Schmiss is pretty extreme? -HiFiGuy 19:46, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I actually added the image just now, without even looking at the talk page first, so have no idea there had been a controversy. I'll go edit to include a mention that it was not a normal smite, but I think it is important. Sherurcij (talk) (Terrorist Wikiproject) 09:33, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi, I am Rabe!, the German main author of the German "mensur" article, now represented in the English Wikipedia as well. This Otto Skorzeny has to be taken out of the article. His biography says that he was heavily injured during the war by an artillery shell destroying his face. These scars visible in the image look like a war injury and absolutely not like a "Schmiss" from Mensur fencing. It is a good tradition among German left-wing activists to show pictures of men in Nazi uniform with scars in their faces claiming that these are scars from Mensur fencing. We had several of these in the German Wikipedia. --Rabe! 15:59, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

If you want to see a "Schmiss", have a look at this gentleman [1]. He was member of a student corps in Göttingen and member of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The Nazis put him in a concentration camp for a certain period of time. After the war he became a politician. His highest position was prime minister of the State of Lower Saxony. In his right cheek, he has got some visible Mensur scars. Unfortunately, the picture has got no accepted license for the German Wikipedia.--Rabe! 16:22, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Translate Mensur article into English[edit]

It would be nice if somebody would translate the whole German article at Mensur. Uppland 16:09, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

I know some German, but not enough to do a good job. Judging by the Google machine translation, it looks worth doing. We can put up a request at Wikipedia:German-English translation requests; History or Culture section? Tearlach 18:06, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
From the German point of view I believe that translating this excellent article into English would be to special. The article comes close to a thesis on the issue and is that much detailed, also in a very high and special level of language, that I believe a translation would have to fail. I suggest that you ask the German author and user [Rabe!] whether he is able to provide a resumee of the article with the key points and have that translated.--Kresspahl 20:16, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
I disagree. However, certain terms would have to be left untranslated (I would prefer if the article was at Mensur), and it would need some additional context, as many supporting articles, linked from the German version, have no real counterpart in the english Wikipedia. Uppland 21:55, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Hi Uppland, thats actually the point, in the de:wiki there are some very active writers who as historians and coming from the scene really go deep into German academic culture (de:Portal:Studentenverbindung). Therefore there are many articles and subarticles linked to each other, which are necessary to understand this cultural complexity. And who in the world cares, which student from which corps provoked the decision by the German Criminal Supreme Court. The article then really goes into the principles of German criminal law and not only into the basics...who cares for that outside the German community of fencing law students? Perhaps you, certainly me, being one of them, but... it is right now impossible to produce their wiki:reader in English language. We had some discussions on English articles on German academic culture in the en:wiki and the first problem always was to find a proper translation for terms out of the very special German student language. A way of approach could be to produce proper stubs of nearly every article in the German Category in English language and then go for the translation of central articles like academic fencing or Mensur.--Kresspahl 23:30, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
I also agree with Uppland. On the German Wikipedia, it has been nominated as Exzellente Artikel - the equivalent of a Featured Article. If they think that, it's worth translating. I don't buy into the idea that German specialist terminology can't be translated (or researched enough to find explanations). People here are more geeky than you think! We can have a go at it, and I'm happy to help. Tearlach 01:18, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
Whenever you have a background question, feel free to ask, I will try to help!--Kresspahl 08:59, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

To motivate my suggestion to move this to mensur (now a redirect): I think it is important to use culture-specific terms for culture-specific phenomena. We should avoid using overly general terms for specific phenomena or culture-specific terms for more general phenomena. "Academic fencing" in a wider sense has existed elsewhere, but without borrowing or developing the specific traits of the German tradition. Anyone against a move? "Academic fencing" can remain a redirect until someone writes a more general article. Uppland 10:13, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Mensur has two meanings: in general it is the agreed distance between fencers, this applies to fencing in general, the special one refers to what we are discussing here. For this reason the de:article is not under de:Mensur but de:Mensur (Studentenverbindungen). But I agree with you, that Mensur is the specific term and academic fencing the general.--Kresspahl 10:42, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Number of Studentenverbindungen[edit]

I removed the words "a few hundred" from the phrase "Academic fencing in Germany was temporarily abolished, along with Studentenverbindungen, during the Third Reich, but today it is still practised by a few hundred traditional corporations of the German Student Corps." The Wikipedia entry for German Student Corps lists the number of such corps as "170", which is not even two hundred.--The Gnome 12:03, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

@User:The Gnome: You are wrong: Corps are a special group/type of Studentenverbindungen. There are others like Landsmannschaften and Burschenschaften fencing as well, so that a few hundreds was correct. Please change that...--Kresspahl 12:31, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
But how can we have one Wikipedia entry flatly contradicting another? Personally, I find the Wikipedia entry for German Student Corps, listing the number of such corps as 170, to be quite credible. Could you please provide some sources for German student corps being in the "hundreds"? --The Gnome 07:50, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
  • "Studentenverbindung" is in the German a topic and includes
    • about 170 "German Student Corps"
    • many "Burschenschaften"
    • many "Landsmannschaften"
    • many "Turnerschaften"
    • many "Sängerschaften"
    • and other types of Studentenverbindung, which are all fencing.
So the number of fencing Studentenverbindungen must be larger than the number of 170 fencing student corps!--Kresspahl 17:24, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I accept your claim to be correct and amend the entry accordingly. My objection was based on what I took to be a logical inconsistency.--The Gnome 09:44, 9 February 2006 (UTC)


The article describes the schlager as a "large heavy sabre". I'm not sure that is strictly true. A sabre, as defined in the wiki article is a curved backsword (although the (curve can be fairly vestigial). The Schlager is entirely straight and double edged (am I correct on the double edge). I've seen it described as a "cutting rapier" (a bit of an oxymoron, I know) or a broadsword (which seems morphologically correct, even though the blade is narrow). I'm not sure what is the correct term here, so I won't put in an ill informed edit, but I'm fairly sure that sabre is wrong. Epeeist smudge 19:27, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

That belongs to the problem discussed above: translation of technical terms. Two kinds of weapons are used for mensur fencing today: The "Korbschläger" (for images see German article de:Korbschläger) and the "Glockenschläger" (for images see German article de:Glockenschläger). The main difference is the hilt. The first has a hilt shaped like a basket (German "Korb") and the latter has a hilt shaped like bell (German "Glocke"). Their use depends on geography. The Glockenschläger is used in Eastern parts of Germany only such as Leipzig, Greifswald, Berlin, Frankfurt/Oder etc. Between WWII and German reunification in 1990 the Glockenschläger was restricted to West-Berlin. The Academic sabre was used from early 19th century until roughly 1935 for serious duels only. But this takes much longer to explain. --Rabe! 17:25, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Public attitudes?[edit]

I knew nothing about this subject before reading this article, but one thing that does strike me as absent from it: what is the attitude of the German public towards academic fencing? Is it like boxing, where some people want it banned but others think it "makes a man" out of its practitioners? Does the fact that academic fencing was banned under the Nazis have a bearing on public opinion today? Do some people think it old-fashioned, like duelling itself? Is it considered unacceptably dangerous that one must aim for the head? Is the "Schmiss" seen by some people as a mark of stupidity rather than stoicism? Etc etc etc. Loganberry (Talk) 20:37, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

As with Studentenverbindungen in general, many people are sceptical of academic fencing. So far I haven't met anyone who was interested in doing it, just as most students aren't members of Studentenverbindungen in the first place. I guess it's generally considered a pointless risk or some kind of outlandish initiation ceremony.
On a side note: while it is true that most Studentenverbindungen aren't nazis, the general complaint is that those who are not generally tolerate those who are or allow members to express their nazi views (thus apparently reflecting on the Verbindung itself). According to numbers a local Burschenschaft gave in a debate about the correlation between nazism and Burschenschaften, in the meta-organisation of German Burschenschaften about 33% are what they would consider nazis, 33% are conservative/right-winged and 33% are "liberal" -- the Burschenschaft didn't offer any basis for these numbers, but they considered their own group rather liberal. Regardless, the meta-organisation has published and tolerated overtly nazist leaflets in the past decades, reflecting rather badly on them in a day and age when anything even slightly related to nazi ideology is considered a faux pas in politics.
Of course Burschenschaften are only a fraction of the whole of all Studentenverbindungen, but most "outsiders" can hardly tell them apart. The gender separation inherent in both and their strong coherence (union for life and all that) makes both seem equally doubtful to the average student, though. Left-wingers are especially offended by their lack of political self-censorship (i.e. tolerance for nazi ideologists).
Academic fencing being practically non-existent outside these groups, it shares all the prejudices/criticism Studentenverbindungen endure in general. Personally, I'm as critical of these groups as I'm critical of institutional religions, though I don't support the generalisations either. — Ashmodai (talk · contribs) 02:33, 16 November 2006 (UTC)


I put up a link to a foto of the members of Corps Stauffia in uniform. It was immediately taken down by kresspahl. I am interested in understanding what norm was thought to have been offended by my addition. 17:01, 1 April 2007 (UTC)

April Fools is before noon.--Kresspahl 18:33, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I thought I was still logged in when I posted that. My interest remains: I put up a link to a foto of the members of Corps Stauffia in uniform. It was immediately taken down by kresspahl. I am interested in understanding what norm was thought to have been offended by my addition.
MaxwellPerkins 21:15, 1 April 2007 (UTC)
The article for "uniforms" of German frats is Couleur. Since that is a stub please have a look in the German sister project and the pictures used there. The Wikipedia project is not a link registry. Media with proper licence are collected within the sister project commons. If you want to write the English article on "Couleur" please go ahead.--Kresspahl 07:20, 2 April 2007 (UTC) As I understand you registered on 29.March with WP. I did not "take down" a picture the last few days...--Kresspahl 07:22, 2 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I suppose I should have said instead that you removed a link. You're close on the registration date, but not accurate.
MaxwellPerkins 02:30, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Otto Skorenzy[edit]

Wouldn't it make sense to put a little something about Otto Skorzeny in the article, since he is a fairly important historical figure who had a "smite" scar, or at least use the headshot picture found in the article for illustration purposes? --Timber Rattlesnake 05:37, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Why yes, and he previously was. That particular photo was removed from commons due to copyright issues. The current one is fair use and shows the schmiss, so I've included it . No rational reason was given for its removal, additionally we have no other usable pictures of one. Its definitely a dueling scar, possibly the most famous. Its dramatic, this is true, but it did happen from Mensur, so concerns about it not being neutral are irrelevent. "He was a noted fencer as a student in Vienna in the 1920s. He engaged in thirteen personal duels. The tenth resulted in a wound that left a dramatic scar known in academic fencing as a schmiss (German for "smite") on his cheek." breathe | inhale 09:30, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
His nickname was "Der Schmissige" for goodness sake. - I've noted the bottom part is a war wound and referenced this, but the schmiss on the cheek is genuine. This is arguably the most worldwide famous schmiss ever, making not including it a problem. breathe | inhale 09:49, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
This photo should be restored? Andrew Gradman talk/WP:Hornbook 08:27, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Polish fencer[edit]

Isn't the photo of the Polish fencer made in Freiburg? [[2]] -- (talk) 22:27, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Why does "smite" redirect here[edit]

It shouldn't? - Anon (talk) 17:52, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

It should, but wasn't explained. I added a reference to smite = Schmiss in German, i.e. the intentional scarring caused. Strikehold (talk) 18:27, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Non-free file problem[edit]

Info.svg File:StudentOfPrague1926Poster.jpg was removed from this article because it either does not have a Non-free use rationale or there are problems with the existing rationale. Please see Wikipedia:Non-free content criteria for the applicable policy and Wikipedia:Non-free use rationale guideline for how to fix the problem. If further input or help is needed, questions can be directed towards Wikipedia:Media copyright questions, the help desk or my talk page. Thank you. Toshio Yamaguchi (talk) 10:16, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Film added[edit]

I added some films.

I had put in mention of Tatort im Ersten - Akademisches Fechten but since I can't find any information about this movie, I took it out again, although it does have an extended scene of academic dueling. Anybody have any information about this? All I know about it is that there is a long youtube video on the web, with no information about the source. Geoffrey.landis (talk) 23:10, 2 June 2013 (UTC)