The German Burschenschaften - or student duelling societies - have been around for more than 200 years. My favorite description of the type of student who joins the Burschenschaft is in Heinrich Mann's classic novel Der Untertan. The central figure, Diederich Hessling, is a fanatical Burschenschaftler who worships the Kaiser and is unthinkingly obedient to authority while maintaining a rigid dedication to the nationalist goals of the German state. These were the types that later became the vanguard of the Nazi movement. Occasionally I would run into a few comical characters with dueling scars while working in banking in Germany, but I thought that the Burschenschaften had become more like American fraternities: innocuous drinking clubs that were useful networking opportunities for getting jobs after leaving the university. Now I learn that they never really changed from the days of Diederich Hessling:
The fossilised world of Germany's student-duelling clubs was in turmoil yesterday after the national umbrella organisation was shown to have adopted a Nazi-style race code demanding the banning of members with foreign parents on the grounds that they were insufficiently "Aryan".
Apparently a member was expelled from one of the societies even though he was born in Germany and had served honorably in the Bundeswehr. Why was he not acceptable? The members parents were of Chinese origin, and the poor guy didn't have Aryan blood running through his veins:
According to the umbrella organisation's race code, he did not qualify as a member of the "German people".Der Spiegel said the motion was accompanied by legal documents drawn up for the umbrella group by the Alte Breslauer duelling club in Bonn and apparently approved by a majority of the country's Burschenschaften. The documents stipulated that prospective members with "non-European facial and bodily characteristics" did not qualify as Germans. The documents, written in part by a right-wing member of the Bavarian conservative party, also said: "Especially in times of rising immigration, it is not acceptable that people who are not from the German family tree should be admitted to the Burschenschaften."
So the Burschenschaften continue to obey the Nuremberg Race Laws. And in those cases where where it is difficult to validate racial purity from "facial and bodily characteristics" a special committee has been established to approve or reject the prospective member's application.