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."