Old man (fraternity)

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An elderly gentleman or philistine is a member of a fraternity after completing his studies and active time. In many female associations or mixed associations , the female equivalent is old lady or high lady . Some associations also have the title Old Man for female members.


The member achieves the status of the old man with the completion of studies or with the entry into professional life. The entirety of the old gentlemen of a student union is usually referred to as the old gentry or the Philistine .

The concept of the Philistine was always associated with an attitude of mind that was particularly despicable or backward-looking from the point of view of the students, which did not give the right value to the joy of life and the sense of the beautiful. The student described this mental attitude as "philistine" in contrast to the "boyish" attitude to life of a real lad .

In many student fraternities , especially Christian ones, Philistines is the official name for the old men. In other umbrella organizations, e.g. B. the corps or country teams , the designation old man is preferred. Members of women's associations are referred to as high ladies after completing their studies . In the case of mixed-sex student associations, the names vary widely, and women are sometimes referred to as old men .

Connection type Description (Sg.) Designation (pl.) Group designation
Christian fraternities , Baltic connections Philistines (Phil.) Philistine
(own name: Con philister)
(dt. Philistines shaft)
Corps , country team (student union) , fraternities Old man (ah) Old men (AHAH or AH²) Old rule
Mixed student associations Old lady (AD) or high lady (HD) / old man (AH) Old women (ADAD or AD²) or high women in combination with old men also ADAH Philistine
Ladies connections High Lady (HD) High ladies (HDHD or HD²) High ladies
rare in Bavaria and Austria: Corpsphilister Corpsphilister Corps Championship


The old men of a connection usually organize themselves in an old man's association (AHV). This is called differently depending on the association and umbrella organization (e.g. Philistine association , brother association ). The old men’s associations, as associations, are the organizational effect of the life covenant principle. Sometimes students and no longer students of a corporation also form an organizational unit.

In addition to their involvement in their own old men’s associations, old men often organize themselves across associations in local associations based on association membership (e.g. AHSC, VAB , VACC ). The local alliances are the older ones and started around 1860. The old gentlemen's associations, on the other hand, only emerged in the last quarter of the 19th century as permanent associations in order to be able to structure the financing of the corporation houses at the university locations.

The aim of an old men’s association is to maintain solidarity with one another and with the student members ( Aktivitas ). The old gentlemen are also active at social events of the student association or with financial support. The old gentlemen's associations are mostly united again at the association level in the old men’s associations. The Convent of German Academic Associations (CDA) is an umbrella organization for several senior citizens' associations .


Philistration is, based on the acceptance into the active connection, the transition from activitas to the old rulership. In many cases, the active who would like to be philistised after completing their studies must submit an application for admission to the old gentlemen's association. If the old gentlemen's association refuses to join its ranks, membership in the association ends.

In the Wingolfsbund , the Philistration is an event at which a federal brother is accepted into the old gentlemen's association after completing his studies and taking up the profession. After a Philistrationskneipe that the Philistranden is led itself, this smashes his mug on Mossy Stone . In the future, symbolically, he will no longer be one of the happily drinking active people, but rather the Philistine.


Renoncephilister - in the corps lists R.-Ph. - were a special type of corps affiliation with some southern German corps, especially the former Bavarian life corps . Honored renonces were appointed renoncephilisters by the Seniors' Convention on leaving the university . These then had roughly the position of today's corps loop bearers . Until about 1850, in contrast to the foxes, Renoncen were students who were only loosely related to the corps. They made use of its protection against the student community, but waived the reception . They "renounced" (renounced) the corps tape. The Renonce (student union) has nothing to do with the Renoncephilisters. At the end of the 19th century, the renoncenturn was generally abolished. The Renoncephilister, if they had fought, were received or received the corps ribbon.


Urphilister refers to an old man of a Catholic student union, who also lived through his fox times in this same connection. Since an elderly gentleman can have gone through the Fuchszeit with a middle school connection as well as with a university connection, he can be with these two original philistines; if he belongs to other connections, then he is only band philistine in these .

Tape recordings

In addition to the usual transition to the old boys' shank after completion of study other forms of have tape recording (accession to the connection / old boys shank) among the student associations developed. In the case of interested parties who have not yet been incorporated, one speaks of an honorary philistine (EPh) or honorary member (EM) after being admitted to some of the societies . Another case is the tape recording of a person who was previously a member of an association of the same umbrella organization or of another friendly association. In this case some connections speak of tape philistines or second tape carriers . In general, however, they are simply called Old Man or Philistine in everyday life. This classification can differ from umbrella association to umbrella association in terms of the name.

In the Cartell Association of Catholic German Student Associations (CV), it is also customary to apply for a ribbon of honor to well-known public figures, for example bishops of the Roman Catholic Church . Such an “honorary membership” without personal participation in active life is rejected by many other student associations. Most fraternities make band recordings subject to certain conditions, such as active participation in fraternity life. Basically, however, it must be noted that the type of membership does not allow a judgment per se about the respective personal commitment of the person concerned within the association, since this differs too much from person to person even in the case of high spiritual or political dignitaries.

The term "Philistines"

Corpsphilister evening at Corps Saxonia Vienna , Couleurkarte (1903)

The term Philistine can be derived from the Hebrew pelishtim from the dispute between the Philistines and the Hebrews, which is often addressed in the Old Testament of the Bible. In the student language, first the city guards or the police, with whom the students often quarreled, were given this name in the 18th century in the university towns, for example in Leipzig or Halle (Saale) , then finally all petty - bourgeois narrow-minded residents of the university towns, i.e. all Philistines .

Heinrich Heine , as a young law student (and member of the Corps Guestphalia ) expelled from the University of Göttingen for a duel offense, but later returned to do his doctorate here, set a monument to his opinion on "Philistines" in his work Die Harzreise :

“In general, the inhabitants of Göttingen are divided into students, professors, Philistines and cattle; what four classes are nothing less than strictly separated. The livestock is the most important. […]
The number of Philistines from Göttingen must be very large, like sand, or rather like dung by the sea; verily, when I saw them in the morning, with their dirty faces and white bills, planted in front of the gates of the academic court, I could hardly understand how God could only create so many rags. "

The term Philistine was then used - first disrespectfully, then officially - for members of a student union in professional life . The term appeared in the further course of the 19th century in many student songs in which, from the point of view of the "old man", the own state of "philistinism" is wistfully regretted and in the classic ubi-sunt topos of the old days is thought of as a student. So also in the song When I lay asleep tonight by Adolf Katsch 1883:

 “The golden boyhood flew away,
 quickly - that God have mercy! -
 Leather Philistine pulled
 me into thin arms. "

Or in the most famous song of the genre, O old Burschenherrlichkeit , published anonymously in 1825:

 “Where are they who
 did not stagger from the broad stone and did not give way, Who
 without a spear with joke and wine
 resembled the Lord of the earth?
 They withdrew
 into the Philistine land with downcast eyes .
 O jerum, jerum, jerum ,
 o quae mutatio rerum! "

The “broad stone” was the paving made in the middle of a street. To the left and right of it, the path was not paved and, especially in rainy weather, the carts made it rough and muddy. The one who “did not give way” consequently forced all oncoming ones to step into the mud, which admittedly reflects a certain prepotency in the attitude of the studiosi.

The term of the Philistine when referring to a people with small mental outlook on life attacked later on the university parlance out and became the vocabulary of the educated middle class .


Individual evidence

  1. Handbook of the Kösener Corps Student in two volumes, 6th edition, ed. from the board of the Association of Old Corps Students, 1985, p. 330 f.