Bloody Initiation into Dueling Fraternity

My grandfather, bloodied, at his initiation into a German dueling fraternity. The scar on the cheek (called a "Schmiß") lasted his lifetime.


When I mentioned to my father how striking I found this photo, he followed up with this email:


"German dueling fraternities in the 1920s were renowned for

being nationalistic and right-wing and, I assume, also

anti-Semitic. I don't know whether my father was allowed

to join one of those or whether he joined some alternative

Jewish dueling fraternity at that time at Munich University.


Anyway, in his younger days, my father was quite a German

nationalist - participating on the German side when there

were clashes with Polish partisans in his hometown just

after World War I. It was this early activity which the

Nazis were aware of, so that they left him alone longer

than other Jews in Hannover at that time. By February of

1940, just in the nick of time, he got out of Germany

via Holland. By May of that year, Germany occupied Holland.


Anyway, a dueling scar was always considered in Germany

as the mark of the educated elite."

31 faves
Uploaded on November 6, 2004