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Ribbon, hat and pointed waistband - the most important color elements

The couleur ( French la couleur "the color") is the combination of certain colors, which serves as a sign of a color-bearing or color-leading student or pupil association . In a generalized way, couleur is also understood to mean the shaping of a person towards an ideological attitude: someone is this or that couleur.


For the first time in Wichs (student in festive costume), painting by Georg Mühlberg (1900)

In the case of the members of a color-bearing association, the combination of colors specified as a color is found on clothing and jewelry, as well as on accessories and everyday objects. The term couleur is used both abstractly for the color combination and for the objects on which the colors of the combination are located. The most important items of the color are the ribbon worn around the chest and the cap , which serve as a badge for membership in the relevant association. In addition, many fraternity students wear a waistband on their belts on which at least one so-called "Zipfel" or "Zipf" hangs, small pieces of colored ribbon, the ends of which are set in metal.

The members of colored associations do not wear the color. Their colors can only be found in the wank (a kind of uniform for special occasions) and on couleur objects. Occasionally a corner is worn. Some connections in southern Germany and Austria wear a ribbon, but no student hat. Black fraternities don't wear colors.

The color - including various previous phenomena - has always been an expression of loyalty, belonging and identity to a group, but also of rivalry and distancing from other groups and individuals. Accordingly, in different phases of history, the relationship between people of different colors, but also the relationship between people with different colors and non-people, was highly emotionally charged, which has had an impact on society and politics to this day. Authoritarian state regimes - regardless of their political orientation - have always forbidden wearing the color. There were also regular movements within the student body that were directed against wearing the color.

The color also contributed to the emergence of national flags in the 19th century , for example the black, red and gold flag of Germany and the flag of Estonia .

The colors today


In the abstract sense, the color of a connection consists of a combination of mostly three colors in a fixed order. There are also some - mostly very old - connections with only two colors. Four or five colors are also used relatively rarely. Often, such combinations are secondary to the amalgamation of compounds of different colors that had to commit to a color sequence.

The two to five colors are always transverse and have no pattern or two-dimensional design in any form, as color fields in heraldry or flags in vexillology can have. Basically, all color strips have the same width, exceptions to this rule are rare. It happens, for example - especially when connections are merged - that two or three main colors are surrounded by two narrower stripes in another color according to the pattern "red-green on a white background".

As with national flags, the colors have a relevant order, so they cannot be combined arbitrarily. They are usually named from top to bottom. Exceptions are, for example, the university cities of Halle , Jena and Leipzig , whose connections sometimes read their colors from bottom to top. Individual corps in Germany, for example in Heidelberg and Freiburg im Breisgau, do the same .

The colors essentially come from the repertoire of heraldry , the most common are black, blue, red, green, but also white and yellow as well as gold and silver. The rarer colors purple, pink and orange as well as (very rarely) gray and brown are also used.

In contrast to the color theory of heraldry, white and silver, but also yellow and gold, are each different colors. It is noticeable that gold is comparatively common, but silver is rare. Gold and silver are not combined either. Another difference to heraldry is the nuances of the colors blue, red and green. Dark blue is different from blue, light red is different from red. Different shades of the same color can also follow one another directly, for example the combination “dark blue-light blue-white” is also possible. When it comes to the nuances, great emphasis is usually placed on faithfulness to the pattern, which means that the traditional color gradation is meticulously adhered to, especially during the manufacture of the ribbons. This often leads to metaphorical color designations such as “alpine rose red”, “moss green” or “ether blue”. The (metal) colors gold, yellow, silver and white as well as black do not show any nuances, just like the mixed colors purple and orange.

Relation and meaning

Anniversary stamp "125 years Coburg Convent " with the association's colors
Association triangle of the VVDSt in

The colors symbolize a certain connection in a certain place or the affiliation of the wearer to a certain connection. Since some color combinations are common, there are also connections whose colors are the same, but this does not have to have any significance for the relationship between the connections. In order to avoid mix-ups as much as possible, however, the same color combinations at the same university location are usually avoided. Violations of this maxim occurred especially after the Second World War, when connections from eastern university locations moved to the west and there met connections with the same colors. In cities with a large number of connections of different types, color parallels naturally occur otherwise, not least between university and middle school connections.

There are also corporate associations with colors. The best known are the fraternity colors black-red-gold , which are run by several fraternity umbrella organizations that can be traced back to the original fraternity in Jena of 1815. This movement spread from Jena across Germany and carried the colors to many universities. Since the fraternity movement quickly split up and soon there were several fraternities per university, not all fraternities wear these colors. There are also different combinations and sequences (black-gold-red, black-red on gold etc.). The wide distribution, the great popularity and the political significance have ensured that these colors form the German national flag today.

The Coburg Convent (white-green-red-white), the umbrella organization of the compulsory national teams and gymnastics associations , also has a color combination . However, these colors are not worn by any single connection there and do not appear in the form of a ribbon or hat. Insofar as other compounds have these colors, there is no connection.

Around the middle of the 19th century, the first Christian associations were formed, which often established subsidiary associations with the same or similar colors in other cities. This resulted in umbrella organizations with a more or less uniform color such as the Wingolfsbund (black-white-gold) or the Unitas-Verband (blue-white-gold). The colors are both the colors of the umbrella organization and the color of the vast majority of member associations. This is possible because some umbrella organizations only allow one member connection per university city (principle of singularity ). In the case of the Unitas association, several connections per city are possible and also necessary, since women are also accepted into the association in their own connections. The colors blue-white-gold are arranged by the individual clubs in any order as a tricolor. The same applies to the Association of German Students' Associations (VVDSt) with its black, white and red colors , which chose this color combination in the 1880s out of enthusiasm for the recently founded German nation-state.

Color-bearing, color-bearing and black connections

A differentiation between connection types that is often used in practice is the distinction between color-bearing and color-bearing corporations. Members of colored associations wear the color (ribbon, cap) of their association at internal and public events. Color leaders (mostly equated with not colored ) have specific colors for their corporation, which are often found in the wichs and in color objects such as flags, banners and whips. Some non-colored connections in southern Germany and Austria wear a ribbon, but no student hats. Black fraternities do not wear or use colors.

The ribbon

Boy ribbon (orange-white-blue); Fuxen tape (orange-blue) of the AV Cheruskia Tübingen
Quadruple tape spreader

Couleur finds concrete implementation in numerous clothing components and objects. The most important color element for most connections is the color band, the "member's badge" of the colored connections.

Design and way of carrying

It is a mostly 27 millimeter wide silk fabric (the so-called beer ribbon) that is placed over the right shoulder and held together by a ribbon button under the left armpit at about the level of the belly button. The ribbon is worn under the jacket, but over a shirt, tie and vest. With tailcoats or tuxedos , a narrower band (around 14 millimeters), the so-called wine ribbon (tuxedo) or champagne ribbon (tailcoat), is often worn across the chest. In Leipzig , the "Leipziger Format" is worn, a ribbon 32 millimeters wide. There are also occasional (often very old) connections with a tape that is up to 36 millimeters wide. In the case of individual connections it happens that a Konkneipant wears the tape in opposite directions (from left to right).

When a corporation is a member of two or more fraternities, he also wears multiple ribbons, usually all at the same time. It makes sense to ensure that the ribbons acquired later are cut longer so that they hang lower and the colors of all ribbons can be seen. Another possibility is to use what is known as a tape spreader . This is worn on the chest and consists of two or more connected sliders that are pulled over the straps.

Student fraternity ribbons are typically not worn with fraternity ribbons.


At the edges, the tape is usually sewn with either silver or gold metal threads, the so-called percussion . Today, the metal of the percussion is often added to the couleur colors for more precise differentiation. In this case one speaks of "color1-color2-color3 with silver / gold percussion". If the percussion is wider than normal, one speaks of an advance , a peculiarity that occurs above all in Austria.

The metal of the percussion usually also serves as a guideline for the (gold or silver) design of all other metal elements of the color of a connection, such as metal embroidery on ribbon and barrel or metal edging of lobes. For some connections, ribbons are embroidered in the percussion color for special events or as a sign of a special honor (e.g. appointment as an honorary member), for example with the emblem of the connection or the designation of the honor.

There are also some compounds that have percussion colors other than gold and silver. This occurs less often in Germany than in Austria; Here it is also possible that the percussion colors are different on the upper and lower side of the band. In this case there is no influence on the metal elements of the connection.

Fox major and foxes

Couleur of the fraternity Teutonia Nuremberg: cap of the fox major with fox tail, three-colored boy ribbon, two-colored fox ribbon and zip [el] bund

For the foxes (other spelling "Füxe" or "Fuxen"), the new members of a union who do not yet have all the rights and obligations of a full member, ribbons with a special color scheme have been developed over time. Fox bands (often also called “fux bands”) differ from the bands for boys (or corps boys), the full members. They are usually reduced by one color, so they often only have two color stripes or repeat one of the two colors (for example according to the pattern "Color1-Color2-Color1"). Connections with two-tone tape add a third color in the fox tape, double one of the two colors or replace one color with white etc.

There are also many connections without a fox ribbon. The foxes of the corps in Göttingen and Heidelberg , the foxes of most fraternities in Heidelberg and the foxes of all Baltic connections traditionally do not wear a ribbon at all. But many older fraternities , especially those who wear black, red and gold, have a ribbon for the foxes, but not a special fox ribbon. This is based on the conviction that you can not omit any color from the color combination black-red-gold , i.e. the German colors. Another variant occurs in some Swiss associations (e.g. umbrella organization Stella Helvetica): Fuxes wear a three-colored beer ribbon, while boys wear a three-colored wine ribbon.

The fox major , a full member responsible for the care and training of the foxes, wears the fox ribbon crossed with his boys' ribbon in many associations. A foxtail is often worn on the hat.

Ribbon button

Ribbon button made of metal in the colors of the KDStV Gothia Würzburg

Ribbon buttons serve as a decorative link between the ends of the ribbon. They are either made of metal (in percussion color) or made of ceramic with a compass engraved on the front or show a coat of arms with the color of the color. In many connections the student receives his ribbon button as a gift from his personal boy after the end of his time as a fox . A corresponding dedication is then sometimes engraved on the back or on the edge of the front.

Belt loop

Across all associations, many corporations have the establishment of the "loop bearer ", sometimes also called " Conkneipant ", or in Kösener and Weinheimer Corps "IdC" ( owner of the corps loop ). The bow is a piece of three-colored wine ribbon that is tied to the lapel of the jacket and worn accordingly. The ribbon is awarded to those members who, for important reasons, cannot fulfill all of the obligations that the bond requires of a band wearer (e.g., for medical reasons, fencing in the case of striking bonds ). Some fraternities may award the ribbon to a corporation's wife or fiancé.

Several ladies' associations always wear a ribbon bow instead of a couleur ribbon, while others have a choice between ribbon and bow depending on the occasion or wardrobe.

Traditional ribbons

In some connections traditional ribbons are worn, these are ribbons worn in addition to the own ribbon with colors that used to have a special meaning and should not be forgotten today. These can be the colors of a dissolved, friendly connection or earlier colors of your own connection. Traditional straps are often only worn by the person charged or even only by the first person charged in the respective connection.

Belt pusher

For various reasons, some fraternity members wear ribbon sliders (also known as sliders ) on their bands. These metal plates - usually the color of the band percussion - are about two centimeters high and the width of the bands. They are attached for different occasions. This includes, for example, participating in a PP suite or holding a particularly important office. In some corporations, sliders are exchanged instead of lugs.

The headgear

Striker of the Corps Hubertia Freiburg

Traditionally, the cap (also called the lid in Austria ) is seen as the second most important element of the couleur of a student union. The combination of ribbon and hat is also known as "full color". Since you can only wear one headgear at a time, there are rules for students who are members of two or more associations; however, these differ depending on the association.

Hat shape

The basic structure of the hats is basically the same for all connections. They consist of a head section with a colored strip on the lower edge. There is also an umbrella made of black leather.

The shape, especially of the head part, can, however, vary greatly. There are very large hats where the upper edge of the head section has a significantly larger diameter than the head circumference (flat cap). The "Bonner Teller" is stiffened at the top by an incorporated metal ring (comparable to police hats) so that it cannot be squeezed together and transported in a coat pocket, for example.

With some particularly large variations, the headboard can even hang down to one side in the form of a beret. On the other hand, there are very small hats that rest more on the head than around it. They are usually worn on the back of the head (occipital color).

Typical for the first half of the 19th century is a hat shape that is characterized by a small head section and a particularly long, forward-protruding peak. One speaks here of the Biedermeier hat . The hat shapes are usually specific to a connection, so they cannot be selected individually. In the case of Baltic-German connections , the cap is called "Deckel" and is embroidered with the Baltic star. Another special form is the wreath hat .

Barrel collection
Street cerevis with oak leaves

A headgear for more unofficial occasions is the so-called Tönnchen (actually " beer barrel "). This is a small, circular, flat headgear without a visor, which is preferably worn on the back of the head. The shape of the barrel is essentially the same for all connections. The middle is designed in the color of the hat and can be embroidered with the circle of the connection in the color of the percussion (gold or silver). Outside, the colors of the ribbon run around as a comparatively wide stripe - above and below with a strand in percussion color. Occasionally there are also barrel trimmings with fur .

In the version as a ceremonial barrel ("street cerevis"), which is worn for many different reasons, the entire barrel is provided with extensive metal embroidery - in corps for example in the form of vine leaves , fraternities wear oak leaves .

Hat color

The head part of the hat is basically one color in the (mostly upper) main or leading color of the three-colored band. Sometimes the hat can be in a color that is not on the ribbon. This is sometimes common in Austria or in the case of mergers of associations, with one association contributing to the color stripes, the other the color of the hat.

The color stripe that runs around the lower edge of the hat is usually designed analogously to the band (often including percussion). If the hat has the first (upper) color of the ribbon, the color stripe may only show the two lower colors. A specialty is the so-called "Göttinger Stripe" (also called "Göttinger Couleur"), which also occurs outside of Göttingen . The hat is in the first color. The surrounding color strip shows the third color, surrounded by two narrow borders in the second color. The rule of thumb applies: "The second color includes the third."

In many connections, the foxes wear a hat with a different color. So the surrounding color strip can show the colors of the fox band. Or the fox hat has special features, for example an additional strand. In the case of Baltic connections , the foxes wear a black "lid" without any colors.

Pointed and pointed collar

Bierzipfel, Mensurzipfel and Weinzipfel (from left to right) in the colors of the Corps Hannovera Hannover

The Zipfel (also called Zipf in some regions) is a pendant made of two couleur bands of different lengths placed on top of each other and a metal slider. The slider has a coat of arms and / or compasses on the front and a dedication on the back. On the upper metal frame there is a chain with a snap hook with which the tip is attached to the tip holder. The pointed holder, in turn, is carried with a clip on the waistband or on the vest pocket.

Lips are given away by fraternity students to other fraternity students with whom they have a special friendship. In the vast majority of cases, the donation is based on reciprocity, one speaks of the "tip exchange". One occasion can be the conclusion of a so-called physical relationship, i.e. a closer relationship between a younger (“Leibfuchs”) and a somewhat older student (“Leibbursch”), who serves as a kind of mentor for the former during his first semester. The occasion can also be a special shared experience or mutual sympathy in general. In the case of striking connections, the custom is widespread to exchange tips on the occasion of a mensur , academic fencing with sharp weapons. The two "counter-timpani" swap. The recipient of the gift is usually also a fraternity student, he can belong to the same or a different fraternity. The tip is in the colors of the giver (not the recipient).

In terms of function, the tip has replaced the entry in the stud book , which went out of fashion in the first half of the 19th century. There are different representations of the origin of the tip. On the one hand, after the Karlovy Vary resolutions and the prohibition of student associations, the corporates used a short piece of their boys' ribbon (“The ribbon is cut,” see also: We had built a stately house ) that they carried in their pockets as a distinguishing feature. On the other hand, the tip could have been used to mark one's own beer mug, also under the aspect of avoiding infectious diseases. The tip is still used in this way today. Other sources assume that the tip only served as a chatelaine to attach the pocket watch. It is likely that all three possibilities had an influence on the formation of the tip.

In many connections, the cuff is part of the full color. In the case of colored connections, i.e. connections that carry colors but do not have a ribbon and hat, the pointed waistband is often the only distinguishing feature. On special occasions, women can be awarded a sparkling wine tip by an association for special merits or a partner (sparkling wine ribbon is about 7–9 mm wide). Schnapszipfel are very rare, in the Wingolfsbund they are z. B. only exchanged between biological brothers who are both Wingolfites (liquor ribbon is approx. 4 mm wide).

The pub jacket

Weinheimer Corps students in bar jackets (2011)

Poles are said to have led to the introduction of the Pekesche in German corporate students . Made of beer-proof material, today's “Kneipjackets” are worn at official events (not at women's events) by the activists of many color-bearing associations. This is a jacket made of velvet or felt , tied at the front with cords , in the same color as the student hat. Further cords, piping or strands in color colors can be found on the collar, sleeves and back. In some places charged pub jackets are worn in a different color.

In contrast to wearing with a suit, the band (or bands) is worn over the Kneipack because the Kneipack is closed to the neck and the band would otherwise not be visible. Some associations wear their pub jackets on certain occasions or generally openly. In these cases the band is worn under the jacket. Historically, the Kneipp jacket comes from Poland. Polish bekiesza refers to an overcoat closed with cords and trimmed with fur, which was introduced to Prussia around 1830 by Polish freedom fighters who had fled Russian persecution ( see also: November Uprising ). Various pieces of student clothing from this time testify to the solidarity of German academic youth with Eastern European freedom movements. The Kneipjacket has survived to this day.

In the case of connections with a special professional focus, the Kneipack can also be replaced by other traditional clothing. For example, connections geared towards forestry and hunting often wear a kind of forester's jacket in green, connections at former mining academies like the black beaver tunnel , which is very popular there and is also permitted as evening wear .


Vollwichs of the K. D. St. V. Rheno-Franconia Munich

The | Die Vollwichs (also the "full wichs") is considered the "gala uniform" of the color student. It is only worn by the Charged (most of the color-bearing, but also many non-color-bearing associations) on highly official occasions. In the complete version it has the following components:

  • The "Cerevis", a headgear similar to the "Prunktönnchen", only in a column-shaped version stiffened with cardboard, about 3–4 centimeters high, about 15 centimeters in diameter. It is worn asymmetrically on the front side of the head and attached to the back of the head with a rubber band.
  • A large beret with headdresses is worn by some student associations instead of the cerevise; it is sometimes reserved for the senior. This beret goes back to the old German costume .
  • The Pekesche (in Austria and Switzerland Flaus ); At universities that have emerged from old mining academies , the mountain smock is also used instead.
  • A wide silk sash in the couleur colors mostly together with the couleur ribbon.
  • White gauntlets or white cloth gloves (for younger connections).
  • White trousers or breeches, called jacks in Austria .
  • Tall black leather gaiters with black shoes (previously riding boots with spurs , today only a few); these boot shafts are called cannons in Austria .
  • A parade racket ( basket racket or bell racket, depending on the university location) in a metal scabbard on a black leather hanger (part of the full weave even with non-striking connections, but here blunt and mostly rounded).
  • The show flag of the connection is either carried by one of the charged or the connection uses a flag flag . This is traditionally the youngest Fux in the Wingolfsbund (according to activity).

Occasions for wearing the Vollwichses are celebratory Kommerse, for example at large foundation celebrations or university anniversaries. However, many connections also charge at weddings, honors and funerals. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was sometimes common for the Chargiert to appear on horseback in the Vollwichs. Vollwichs also wear Christian connections at church celebrations (church services, solemn celebrations , masses, processions, funerals, etc.). Vollwichs are sometimes even created by otherwise non-colored connections for representational purposes.

Some of these compounds also use the salon wicks on such occasions . This forms a less solemn shape and consists of a sash, cerevis, gloves and bat. The salon wicks are worn over a suit. Furthermore, the Salonwichs is also used by various connections in the unofficial of pubs. In the Wingolfsbund, the actual head color, not a cerevis or student beret, is worn for the salon wicker. In Switzerland, the salon wicks usually consist of a sash and gloves; Cerevis and clubs are reserved for the Vollwichs.

The tradition of the Baltic corporations , preserved in the remote universities of Dorpat and Riga, knows neither the Kneip jacket nor the batch wich. On official occasions, the Charged appear in tails with a sash and the usual Baltic lid with a Baltic star . Chargenwichs is also not used in some corps at East German universities, for example in Berlin. Here, on highly official occasions, tailcoats with a splendid club, sash and cerevis are worn.


Particularly popular everyday objects with a color are beer mugs and wine glasses as well as the long tobacco pipes with painted porcelain pipe heads and colored tassels in color colors that were widespread in the 19th century . But not only utensils for consuming alcohol and tobacco were decorated. At times, elaborately painted mocha cups (with saucers) were also made with couleur motifs . Practically everything that could be used as a dish-like object (even flower vases) on the table and painted could be used as a surface for color elements.

Clothing accessories that do not belong to the classic couleur stock were also used. For example , cufflinks or rings that are engraved or inlaid with enamel , some of which are set with gemstones in lime colors, as far as the material and the colors allow ( see also: Fleabein ).

According to an old tradition, couleur objects are not bought for personal use (or ordered as a custom-made product), rather it is customary to provide them with a dedication and give them away (“dedicate”). It is also quite acceptable to “swap” objects as agreed, that is, to dedicate them to each other. Everyone gives away their own colors and receives those of the other.

Color cards are postcards that are usually sent to convey greetings from an event. For this purpose, they are provided with couleur motifs (colors, coats of arms , compasses, etc.) of the relevant connection.

The manufacture of couleur objects was particularly artistic around the middle of the 19th century up to the First World War. Since the beginning of the 19th century, clothing stores , such as Heinrich Friedrich Wedemeyer in Göttingen, have sprung up in university towns and cities , which have their own production facilities to satisfy the demand for articles of this type. This resulted in a still very lively collectors market for these often as Couleur Kitsch designated objects with the Couleur articles in the narrower sense and general university historical memorabilia as pedigree leaves under the heading studentica represent an important segment in the antiques market.

Bar pictures

Typical Kneip picture from the 1850s: Corps Friso-Luneburgia Göttingen (fire red-dark blue-white). Colored lithograph

The representation of the color is closely related to the Kneip picture . As early as the 18th century, collections of paper cuttings or silhouettes appeared next to the pages of the register , which were increasingly colored in the colors of the connections. Around 1,820 such images of members of a compound that in the second half of the 19th century in the halls of the Kneip then increasingly built new arise, for example in the early Corps closed collections fraternity houses were hanged as a closed set. Around the middle of the 19th century, the collection went either over a period of lithographs or directly into black and white photography. The colors of the connections were re-colored with watercolors in these photographs. This custom is continued in almost all connections to this day. The form of the presentation - all are hung in the same format and frame in the order of accession and none are particularly emphasized by format deviations - shows the predominantly egalitarian basic attitude in the relationship between the corporates, a result of the increasing educated middle class as a result of the Enlightenment.

From about the late 1840s this Kneip images were the possibilities of the beginning of the 19th century arisen lithography supplemented by semester images, all members of a connections with their guests showed in a large format, pinching mostly in a typical for the study area. The demand for these representations was so great that lithographers like Gesell specialized in this work. Often, however, only the portrait studies of the heads in prepared standard landscapes were placed on corporated standard bodies. Here, too, the color was often added in watercolors. From about 1880 onwards, the mostly summery foundation festival photos are a variation of these semester photos. From about 1890 onwards, these have their counterparts in the group photos on the occasion of the Christmas bars with the old men on the then new fraternity houses. With the increasing importance of the scaling issue in the German Empire, a large number of photographs were created as the third group of representation types from around 1880 onwards, which depict or suggest scaling scenes and also made it easier to recognize the members of the corporations represented by subsequent coloring. With the advent of the postcard from the mid-1860s, all of the aforementioned groups of motifs in the Kneip picture also influenced the design of the color cards .


The legacy of the 18th century

Göttingen students (1773)

Since the 18th century, the country teams have (historically) wore clothes of different colors. This custom was at least supported by the fact that in this century many rulers imposed a certain dress code on their court officials, but also on the knighthood of their country, in order to avoid a competition between the nobles for particularly ostentatious clothing. The dress code also stipulated the color combinations, mostly differentiated according to outerwear and its lapels as well as underwear.

In some cases, it was expressly allowed that the sons of these dignitaries, as their heirs, were also allowed to wear these "civil uniforms" from a certain age. So it made sense to appear uniformly during the studies at the university in order to express a feeling of togetherness. This function was also partly fulfilled by the officers' uniforms of popular regiments in the home country, which usually did not differ very much from the uniforms of court officials.

The different occurrences, depending on the country of origin, were strictly followed up by the university authorities if there was any suspicion that these associations were "unauthorized associations", i.e. self-governing, democratically composed "country teams" with their own "boards" and a joint fund. The authorities saw in them the origin of all student vices and excesses, since they were beyond the influence of the teaching staff and the state control. Through these communities, the bad habits of the student subculture were passed on to younger students, which had to be prevented. The authorities also wanted to suppress the formation of groups within the student body, which they blamed for the rivalries and frequent duels.

The distinction between what was now to be regarded as a badge of a prohibited association or as the permitted use of national colors was and remained a problem well into the first half of the 19th century, which in some cases occupied the university administrations intensively.

“As a result of these prohibitions because of the medals and country teams, all marks and distinguishing marks in clothes, cocards, etc. are also forbidden to the students in Göttingen. As soon as someone lets it be noticed, such is regarded as an indication that he is in an unauthorized connection, and the same Art. 18 No. 4 is to be dealt with. Otherwise, however, in any case, the use of such marks is to be proven with Carcerstrafe and, if the situation is good, with the Consilio abeundi. Incidentally, according to the view of this prohibition, it goes without saying that it includes so little military uniforms as court and hunting uniforms, including the associated cocards, which anyone who can prove that he is entitled to do so according to his status wear remains unaffected. "

- Göttingen University Laws (1802)

Couleur arises from student costume

Märkische students in Berlin 1811 (orange-white-gold)
Würzburg student costumes around 1820: colors arbitrarily represented by outer clothing and pipe tassels

During the time of the French Revolution and the subsequent wars that were fought across Europe and the Napoleonic occupation, student fashion - as well as the entire student culture - changed drastically. While only about five percent of the total number of volunteers in the Wars of Liberation could be considered students, no social group had such a high proportion of volunteers. Historians estimate that around 20 to 50 percent of students took part in these wars. They brought military-looking uniform parts into the student costume . Typical headgear were the two-pointed hat (also called a storm hat or Napoleon hat), the Konfederatka or other, sometimes imaginative, new creations. The Hungarian dolman was popular as outerwear . Long boots with spurs were often worn for this purpose.

The introduction of the colorful student hat , which appeared in the first decade of the 19th century, had a major influence on the development of the student color . The colors were shown as consistently as possible as the color of hats and as the color of outerwear until the 1820s. The long tobacco pipes with long wooden shafts and porcelain heads that were customary at the time seemed to have been particularly important . The pipe bowls were artistically painted with couleur motifs and the shaft was decorated with colored cords that ended in tassels . From the beginning of the 19th century until the 1820s, the color of the hats and the color of the pipe quests seemed to have been the most important characteristics of the students' identity.

“Some even claim that the city was built at the time of the Great Migration, that every German tribe left an unbound copy of its members in it at that time, and that was where all the Vandals, Frisians, Swabians, Teutons, Saxons, Thuringians, etc. that still exist today came from in Göttingen, hordes of people, and divorced by the colors of the hats and the pipe torches, across the Weenderstraße. "

- Heinrich Heine , Die Harzreise 1824

The shape of the colorful hat solidified into the so-called Biedermeier hat at the beginning of the 1830s . In the decades that followed, the proportions became more diverse again, but the basic structure (black peak, cap bridge with colored ribbon and monochrome cap body) was retained. The colored chest band, which is now regarded as the actual realization of the colors, only began to become naturalized during the 1820s and from around 1830 became a fixed and soon also the most important part of the color.

As an expression of a new German national feeling, the old German costume came into fashion from around 1813 and was also very popular at universities. This costume was indifferent in color, the dominant color was black. A beret was also worn.

Origin of colors

Church procession of Göttingen students with festive costumes and flags for the 100th university anniversary in 1837

At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the oldest type of student union still in existence today, the corps , came into being, although at that time it was still called differently. Sometimes the traditional name Landsmannschaft from the 18th century was adopted, sometimes the terms Kränzchen , "Gesellschaft" or even Clubb were used. In their early days, these new connections were in opposition to the student orders , but they largely dissolved in the first decade of the 19th century. That was also the time when the idea of ​​assigning a connection - independent of clothing items - a combination of two to three colors in a fixed sequence as an identity symbol. This color combination appeared - with the exception of the clothing - first as colored stripes in the newly emerging student coats of arms . In the federal symbols they are often written out in full or given as an abbreviation with single letters, such as "brw" (blood red-white) of the Corps Onoldia (founded in 1798).

The first couleur colors were of country team origin and carried on the tradition of the old country teams of the 18th century. The choice of color was made in different ways.

National colors

Colors of the civil uniforms

When referring to smaller countries, the colors were often derived from the uniforms of the estates, knights or court officials.

  • This is the case with the Mecklenburgers , who mostly gave themselves the Latin name Vandalia . The uniform of the estates and the district administrators, possibly also the court councilors, is said to have been red with gold in Mecklenburg, which is why most Corps Vandalia use the colors gold-red-gold (Göttingen 1804–1836, Heidelberg 1842–1934) or (blood) red with gold (Berlin 1811–1821, Jena 1811–1815). A Corps Vandalia with the colors red-gold-red was founded in Graz in 1894.
Since the 19th century, the colors of the Kurlanders at German universities have been green-blue-white
  • The colors green-blue-white were worn by all Corps Curonia ( Kurland ) that existed at German universities in the 19th century. They came from the uniform of the Courland knighthood and the provincial officials of this province, which had been introduced by Tsarina Catherine II by resolution of the Courland Landtag on September 15, 1784. The uniform consisted of a green skirt with a light blue collar and silver embroidery and buttons. These corps existed in Heidelberg, Göttingen, Berlin, Bonn and Leipzig. In 1959, the Corps Curonia Goettingensis was founded in Göttingen with exactly these colors.

In these uniforms, the embroidery and applications as well as the buttons were often made in either silver or gold. From the 1820s onwards, this led to the golden or silver percussion (edging) of the couleur bands. In some cases, the metals also became couleur colors, i.e. the full color in the ribbon.

Colors of military uniforms

As early as the 18th century there is evidence of student country team associations, whose costumes were derived from the military uniforms of their homeland. The Rupstein family register kept in the Göttingen Municipal Museum shows the uniforms of the compatriots, which the Hanoverians and the Brunswicks already match the colors of the later corps, painted in watercolors . These color combinations are confirmed in a similar form on other records and are therefore not to be regarded as arbitrarily chosen.

Even during and after the Wars of Liberation, there was again a significant influence of military clothing on student costumes. This also applied to the colors in a few cases:

  • As early as 1813, the Braunschweig students, who formed a " Brunsviga " with their fellow students from Halberstadt , brought the colors black and blue into the colors of the newly founded corps. While the red of the Halberstadt residents still played a role in the first few years, the colors black-white-light blue emerged a little later, in which the colors of the uniform of Duke Friedrich-Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Oels could be recognized even more clearly . This so-called "Black Duke" was considered one of the most famous folk heroes of the wars of liberation due to his daring war campaign with a privately financed troop across Napoleonic occupied territory. He and his soldiers wore black uniforms with light blue facings and silver buttons.
  • In 1815 the students in Jena dissolved their country-based corps in order to form a unified fraternity . At that time they were of the opinion that they had to set an example against the fragmentation of Germany and for national unification. Some of the students had previously been members of Major von Lützow's Freikorps , which wore black uniforms with red lapels and gold-colored buttons. The flag of the original fraternity had embroidered the colors red-black-red with a golden oak branch and golden fringes. This later resulted in the colors black, red and gold , which became the symbol of the liberal, revolutionary movement of the Vormärz and later became the German national colors.

Especially student color combinations

In the case of politically highly fragmented landscapes, the residents of which nevertheless had a common sense of identity, special student national colors emerged, which spread throughout Germany.

Green-black-white: Berlin Guestphalia before 1821
  • In 1799, the Westphalian Landsmannschaften ( Guestphalia ) from three university towns joined the so-called "Westphalenkartel", which included the Westphalia colors from Erlangen (1798: green-white), Jena (1792: white-green) and Halle (1789: white-black) merged green-black-white. Around 1821/22 the corps of the Westphalian cartel changed the order to green-white-black. This is still the typical color of a "Corps Guestphalia" throughout Germany. When the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV was crowned in Königsberg in 1840 under the flags of all the Prussian provinces, the colors green-white-black stood for the province of Westphalia.
  • The colors of country team associations of students from Lower and Upper Saxony (Saxonia) are still combinations of dark blue, light blue and white. So in Jena, Leipzig, Halle, Göttingen and Bonn. This cannot be traced back to origins in heraldry or in the military, class or knighthood uniforms of the respective areas. Student historians suspect an origin in Jena. Here, the literary society around Friedrich von Schiller , which existed from 1790 to 1793, wore a dark blue tailcoat with sky-blue lining and silver buttons as a sign of togetherness. For the year 1795 a student uniform of the Saxon Landsmannschaft in Jena is documented, which was kept in dark blue with light blue facings and silver lugs. Only since 1802 has there been an interim uniform for the estates of the Prussian province of Saxony, which is covered as a dark blue tailcoat with light blue lapels and silver embroidery.
  • The combination of blue-white-red, which is considered the typical colors of the Rhineland (Rhenania), is first attested in Jena as the color of a union of Rhenish students in 1795. This is derived from the French tricolor by student historians and justified by the fact that, especially for the year 1795 in Jena, a special enthusiasm for the French Revolution could be read from student records . However, this is doubted from various sides, since, according to another interpretation, this enthusiasm is not shown. There is also very early evidence for the color sequence blue-red-white, which cannot be associated with the tricolor. The fact remains that even before 1800 these colors had become " Rhenish colors" in the perception of students throughout Germany . So today there are different corps with the name Rhenania, which wear these colors, in Bonn, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Freiburg, Würzburg and Erlangen (today "Rhenania-Brunsviga") and as "Transrhenania" in Munich.

Further developments

Goettinger Clubbs - NUNC - 1827.jpg
Goettinger Clubbs - OLIM - 1827.jpg

Göttingen couleur hats (1827)
Green: the dominant color in the Aschaffenburg forest corps

In the further course of the 19th century, when choosing new colors, the reference to the country team traditions of the 18th century decreased. Colors were sometimes chosen arbitrarily or had completely new references.

The Catholic associations, especially in Austria, often use the colors yellow / gold-white / silver, which is often, but not always, intended to refer to the Catholic Church, especially in the case of Austrian associations and the Unitas Association . Some Catholic associations that were founded on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy often wear the imperial colors black and gold.

In the forestry and hunting compounds the use of the color green is very common. Some of these connections even combine two shades of green, for example two corps of the SC in Aschaffenburg .

The origin of the colors of the Corps Altsachsen Dresden , which chose its colors according to a quote from Goethe from Faust I, is particularly unusual : "Gray, dear friend, is all theory, and the golden tree of life is green."

The Jewish student associations , which were formed in the 1880s as a reaction to the increasing exclusion of Jewish students from the traditional student associations, often had the colors yellow or orange in their color (e.g. Sprevia Berlin yellow-white-black, Nassovia Frankfurt orange-white- black). They alluded to the yellow badges that had to be worn to identify Jews in the Middle Ages. They wanted to turn an "eyesore" into a "badge of honor", so the reasoning in the color song of the Jewish connection Sprevia Berlin:

Yellow was the mark with which the raw crowd
once plagued our fathers
when they
dared to venture out of their dark ghetto to other people.
the fathers' loyalty and patience never wavered in spite of the unequaled misery .
What was eyesore became our badge of honor
and monument to our enemies' fault!

The choice of color also followed occasional political convictions. So the black-white-black of the Baden-liberal Tübingen Landsmannschaft Ulmia, derived from the colors of the city of Ulm , changed in 1848 to black-white-yellow in rejection of reactionary Prussia, whose colors were also white and black. Out of sympathy with the rebels in Baden, the Baden yellow was chosen as the third color.


Uniform of a corps boy of the Corps Baruthia around 1820 (black-gold-green)

Origin of today's color elements

At the end of the 1820s, the student colors disappeared from regular outerwear and condensed into special color badges, in addition to accessories: the result was the multi-colored silk ribbon that was worn around the chest and the monochrome hat with colored stripes. At the beginning of the 1830s we find the student color in its essential elements that still exist today. Only in the case of headgear and the emergence of the so-called Vollwichses, i.e. the festive costume, there were additional developments in the course of the 19th century.

The Urschenschaftliche counter-movement

Since during the time of its creation the Couleur symbolized the country team structure of the student body of a university, a first counter-movement against this "fragmentation" arose with the Urburschenschaft in 1815. The aim of the fraternity was to merge the student body into a uniform organization in order to anticipate the unity of Germany in the university area. Color differentiation could only endanger this goal.

Die Isis (magazine, 1816) quoted speakers at the Wartburg Festival :

“That is precisely why you do not have to give yourself names that contradict this universality. You don't have to call yourself white, black, red, blue, etc. because there are others too; you don't have to call yourself Teutons either; for the others are also Teutons. Your name be what you are alone and exclusively, namely student body or fraternity. This includes all of you and no one else. But be careful not to wear a badge and so sink down to the party that would prove that you do not know that the class of the educated repeats the whole state in itself, and thus its essence is destroyed by fragmentation in parties. "

After the end of the original fraternity in Jena in 1819, the fraternity movement also split up. In addition, the national corps at the other universities remained in place despite the spread of the fraternity ideas. Just a few years later, the fraternities carried the same color as the corps, but preferred black, red and gold .

Switzerland: University founding late and adoption of student culture

At the same time as the color elements that are still valid today were formed in Germany, the important universities of Zurich and Bern were founded in Switzerland . Many Swiss who had previously studied in Germany returned to their country and brought the student culture, to which the Couleur belonged, with them to Switzerland. Student “societies” already existed here, but now in the early 1830s they began to adopt student customs such as Couleur. Even then, as now, it was typical of Switzerland that many student associations viewed themselves as supraregional organizations with "sections" at various universities. All sections of such a student union at their different universities have the same colors.

The Swiss student associations did not suffer from official persecution right from the start, which was largely due to the fact that the universities of Zurich and Bern were the first universities to be founded by democratic state structures, the Swiss cantons, and not by monarchs or the church . The student culture could develop freely here.

German Confederation: Couleur as a political commitment

Hambacher Fest 1832: The German colors develop from the couleur of the fraternity

In the German Confederation in the first half of the 19th century, the wearing of couleur continued to be assessed as a commitment to prohibited student associations and was officially prosecuted. However, since the Karlovy Vary resolutions , another aspect has been added. The commitment to self-governing associations was seen not only as a lack of student discipline, but as a political problem. The fraternities in particular, but also the corps that continued to exist, were seen as a threat to the prevailing political order. And the color was considered the outward sign in which this threat manifested itself. The authorities found it particularly worth fighting the efforts to form supra-regional organizations in which students from different universities came together, an endeavor which the fraternities in particular pursued with their supraregional color combination of black, red and gold (University Act § 3). This fear was not entirely unjustified, because at the Hambach Festival in 1832 these colors were used for the first time by non-students as a commitment to democracy. Other milestones in history were the Frankfurt Wachensturm and the March Revolution .

Progress: Another countermovement

Color dropped: Frisia Göttingen (1865)

As part of the bourgeois movement in Vormärz, reform efforts arose among the student body. The demarcation of students from civil society no longer seemed appropriate. The goal of the progress movement was to abolish academic privileges and to bring student associations and civil associations closer together. In the middle of the 19th century, the first “non-colored” student associations emerged whose members, as students, did not want to stand out from the rest of the population. Some compounds lost their colors.

Couleur becomes state-supporting

In 1848 the newly convened German National Assembly declared black, red and gold to be the official colors of the German Confederation. Of the 809 MPs, 170 fraternity members and 170 corps students were of the most varied, including political, color. When the Karlovy Vary resolutions were repealed in the same year, the socio-political position of the student associations and thus also of the couleurs changed fundamentally. After the loosening of the strict regulations and with increasing liberalization at the universities, the color changed from the forbidden identification mark of rebellious young people to the badge of the young academics of the nation. The color became a symbol of the privileged position of university members and, increasingly, of working academics. In addition, the fraternities were initially among the opinion leaders within the student body. This did not change until the unification of the empire in 1871, because with the small German realization of a central goal, the fraternities that had previously set the tone got into a prolonged crisis and increasingly approached the student corps in their habitus and demeanor.

The concept of the Couleurs developed in the German-speaking area also met with approval from students in other countries. The fraternities started similar foundations in Poland early in the 19th century. The Baltic Germans had their own Dorpat University in the Russian Empire from 1802 and brought the customs and traditions with them from their previous universities in Germany. In the Baltic States, student associations of the Latvian, Estonian, Russian and Polish ethnic groups formed from the middle of the century. After the end of communist rule and the independence of the Baltic countries, these connections experienced a renaissance and are now again based on the German style.

The first school association was formed in Germany as early as 1842 . Other associations of this type were founded mainly in the second half of the century, particularly in Franconia, Baden, Austria and Switzerland, but also in isolated cases in northern Germany. To this day, these connections are strongly oriented towards student customs and traditions and almost all of them still bear the color to this day.

Danish, Norwegian and Swedish student hats

In the course of Scandinavianism , the custom of wearing a student cap emerged in Denmark, Sweden and Norway in the 1840s , the basic pattern of which was very similar to the German cap, but for which there was no model in everyday clothing in the countries concerned. These indicators do not identify the members of various self-administered student associations, but distinguish the students according to university, type of university or subject, or according to the type of school-leaving qualification that qualifies them.

Austria: Couleur as an expression of German nationality

Scale length Innsbrucker Corps students 1863.

In Austria and the Habsburg regions of Eastern and Central Europe, the suppression of (union) student culture in the first half of the 19th century by the Metternich apparatus of repression was implemented more effectively than in other federal states . So the student color could only develop here after 1859 ( see also: Schiller Festival), strongly influenced by students from other parts of the German-speaking area. However, the choice of color was different here, as the traditions from the 18th century were broken. There were also some special developments that differentiate the Austrian color from the color from other areas.

In contrast to Poland and the Baltic States, in some countries of the Habsburg Monarchy, student color was seen as a typical cultural asset of the German ethnic group within the diversity of nations of the multi-ethnic state. In the nationalist disputes that weighed heavily on the monarchy in the second half of the 19th century, student couleur played an important role as a symbol of German nationality. Especially at the universities in areas where the German ethnic group tended to be in the minority, this often became the occasion for some physical disputes, especially in Prague and Brno (see Kuchelbad Battle ). To support the "Germanness" in linguistically and ethnically mixed areas, the German School Association produced and sold Couleur postcards . It is known from Chernivtsi that there was a more or less peaceful coexistence of German, Jewish, Polish, Romanian and Ruthenian student associations, all of whom had different colors.

German Empire: Couleur as a badge of the social elite

Students in Wichs, Berlin 1912
The Beer King . Illustration by Walter Francis Brown in Mark Twain's Stroll through Europe 1880

In the second half of the 19th century, and especially in the German Empire from 1871, student connections, especially the corps, became the epitome of the (civil) social elite. The typical Prussian-Wilhelmine student could no longer be represented in pictures in any other way than with a ribbon and cap. Even the sons of ruling ruling houses now increasingly joined student associations and had themselves photographed and painted in student colors, if not in military uniform. So many Hohenzollern princes , among them the future Emperor Wilhelm II. Couleur was so much to the feature of (educational) bourgeoisie that from the 1870s all students, sometimes students, secondary schools ( high schools , Realgymnasiums , upper secondary schools ) with school caps were equipped. These student hats looked exactly like the couleur hats of the students, but had a different function. With the colors, approaches and possibly other applications, the pupils were identified by school and grade level. The color systems were set by the school authorities and varied from city to city. Elementary schools were excluded.

The Christian, especially Catholic, student associations, which asserted their right to show their color, to wear color, asserted themselves against great opposition and were increasingly present in public, experienced a considerable upswing. The Kulturkampf in Prussia and in the German Reich (cf. Badischer Kulturkampf ) made a major contribution to the establishment of color-bearing Catholic student associations, which then merged into the Cartell Association of Catholic German Student Associations (CV). Today this association is the largest union of colored student associations in Europe.

The wearing of colors also became common, sometimes even compulsory, for gymnasts and also, derived from the student corporations for singers and, from 1881, in associations throughout the empire. In the early days of football in Germany , which was practiced in particular by the prospective academics at the technical universities, some of the football fans transferred student customs including the color to their new sport, but as athletes distanced themselves from the classic liaison operation.

Zionist Association Jordania Munich (1912)

The consolidation of the fraternities under nationalistic and anti-Semitic auspices led to the formation of Jewish student associations , which emerged from the 1880s onwards and which claimed the external characteristics and forms of traditional student associations in the German-speaking area and thus indirectly contributed to their stabilization and recognition.

“We carry our weapons to protect our honor from any attack by those who see the essential in these forms, to show with the saber that bears our colors that it is nothing but a prejudice to be courageous to the Jew and fearlessness denies. We therefore refuse to lay down our arms because they are being disputed with us. That is why we also wear color. "

- Thomas Schindler
Couleur in silhouette - the figurehead of a shop in Heidelberg

The (corps) student in couleur became a stereotype already during the empire, the commonplace of a couleur wearing, flimsy Wilhelminist philistine was carried into the public consciousness in a multitude of caricatures and parodies and continues to this day. Abroad, among other things, Mark Twain's description of a visit to the Heidelberger Corps while strolling through Europe , published in 1880, led to a lasting and formative image of German university operations and the central role of the couleur in it. The extremely successful operetta The Student Prince , published in 1924, became the epitome of the American operetta hit. The associated choir “Drink! Drink! Drink! ”By the Heidelberg couleur students became particularly popular because the USA was in the middle of alcohol prohibition at the time of the premiere . An arisen already in the Empire parody of the classic Couleurs found in black compounds that emphasizes neither color-supporting still -colored leaders are and how Founded in 1871, Academic connection hedgehog Tübingen ridicule colors like "black gray-mouse gray-silver gray" used with which the coated color play other compounds into Ridiculous should be drawn.

Youth Movement: Third Counter-Movement

From around 1896 the youth movement at German universities formed the free student body , whose members rejected not only the bourgeois ideas of the student associations and their organizational form, but also their identifying marks, the couleur. They preferred "simple clothes" that corresponded to the motto "back to nature". The student color was again - for the third time in this century - seen as something out of date, a relic of an old age.

This movement survived the First World War and formed one of the ideological currents that opposed the couleur students in the Weimar Republic.

This was the first counter-movement against the traditional culture of fraternities, which did not fall back into these traditions. The alternatives developed here formed the basis for the non-corporate student culture of the 20th century, which to this day only differs from the general youth culture of its time in very few peculiarities .

Weimar Republic and National Socialism

In the Weimar Republic, the majority of German students occupied positions in the right half of the political spectrum. Left-wing or Jewish university groups achieved single-digit percentages at best in the elections to the General Student Committees (AStA). German national or Catholic-conservative were the main currents represented by the high-profile students in university politics and in society. With these political convictions, the color of the broader population was subsequently associated.

The dominant role of fraternity students in the higher administrative and government levels also came under pressure after 1919. The National Socialist German Student Union (NSDStB) was founded in 1926 and quickly became very popular. The ideological goal was the education of the students in the National Socialist sense and the lifting of class barriers between academics and the rest of the population.

The National Socialist youth organizations such as Hitler Youth (HJ) and NSDStB oriented their uniforms and badges more towards “modern” models, such as the Bündische Jugend , which emerged from the boy scouts and the wandering birds of the earlier youth movement . Class differences should no longer play a role. Therefore, soon after the seizure of power, the National Socialists abolished the officially prescribed student hats , which differentiated secondary school students from primary school students. These hats were branded as "eggshells of reaction".

The student hats and the student color offered a special target because they helped expel Jewish schoolchildren and students as members of the educated upper class. The NSDAP publication Illustrierter Beobachter in 1930 railed :

"The German high school student caps and later the boys' band should help to disguise the racial characteristics."

- Illustrated Observer (1930)

For this purpose, three Jewish students were shown in color.

The clashes between representatives of National Socialist organizations and fraternity students sometimes degenerated into street battles, for example in 1934 in Göttingen ( Göttingen riots ).

One of the highlights of the subversive cultivation of tradition was the attempt to re-establish the officially dissolved umbrella organization of the Kösener Seniors Convents Association during the war. A special provocation was the common, couleur carried out Kommers of all secretly existing Würzburg connections on July 17, 1944 on the house of the Corps Rhenania Würzburg . Because at exactly the same time the German student body celebrated its 25th anniversary with a large rally in the presence of the Reichsstudentenführer Gustav Adolf Scheel - just two blocks away. Contemporary witness Hans Dörrie, member of the Corps Rhenania, wrote about the Kommers of the Würzburg connections:

“Over a hundred representatives of the individual connections in ribbon and hat at the long white-covered tables in our hall, that was a wonderfully colorful picture that made everyone's hearts beat faster. Knaup opened the Kommers with a short, successful speech and drank the first glass of beer for the good of our common cause. "

- Hans Dörrie

post war period

In the western occupation zones of Germany and Austria , the student connections were revived after the Second World War after tentative attempts in the 1940s and around the beginning of the 1950s; Couleur was also reintroduced. As early as 1949, however, the Great Senate of the University of Tübingen decided :

There will be no more room in student communities for… wearing colors in public.

The West German Rectors' Conference in Tübingen in 1949 initially adopted this view. The reintroduction of the couleurs was met with incomprehension among the official bodies at many universities and in large parts of the student body. The first attempts in the 1950s to appear in public on a large scale led to protest rallies organized by the SDS . In Göttingen, the Corps Bremensia and Hannovera were revoked on July 28, 1953 by the rector of the University Hermann Heimpel for two semesters because of “wearing paint in public”. This measure was overturned by the Hanover Administrative Court on July 8, 1954 following an action brought by these corps. The court noted in the reasons for the decision:

Neither the state nor the university have the authority to give individual students or student associations an exceptional right with regard to basic constitutional rights. However, wearing colors neither violates the rights of others nor violates the moral law or the constitutional order.

Similar judgments were made at other university locations, and in the Rectors' Conference until 1952 the legal opinion prevailed that color could not be banned. In isolated cases, bans on wearing color were issued on the campus, some of which were not lifted until the 1980s.

In the Soviet occupation zone and in the separated eastern territories of the German Reich , as well as in Poland and the Baltic countries , which had lost their independence and had been incorporated into the Soviet Union , the student connections with their identity symbols were regarded as characteristics of the bourgeoisie after the war which had become obsolete through the introduction of socialism .

In Switzerland, color students survived the two world wars without any significant cuts.

Changes in the 1960s

Federal Republic

Color poster in West Berlin (1976/77)

With the student movement emerging from 1965, the connections grew strong opposition. The aim of the movement to drive away the " mustache of 1000 years under the gowns " also affected the customs and traditions of the student associations, including wearing couleur.

With the professors' gowns, the color of the public in German university towns increasingly disappeared. The wearing of color was limited to fraternity events and own rooms ( see also: corporation house ). The connections also had to accept a decrease in the proportion of corporates and the absolute number of members. Many connections had to cease their active operation. Some, especially artistic and Christian connections, eventually began to include women.

The decline in the importance of the student associations only came to a standstill from 1980.


In the GDR, the cultural student traditions were soon prohibited. In general, the new development of independent student associations with their own traditions was effectively prevented, since the youth in the Free German Youth (FDJ) should be organized and thus controlled by the state-sponsoring party and state. The official badge was the blue shirt with the sun emblem on the sleeve. The establishment of self-administered student structures stood in the way of the party's claim to leadership.

But already in the early 1960s there were tentative attempts by students to learn something about the old student traditions. There was no literature and seldom color available. Some students found old heirlooms at home (ribbon, hat and beer mug from their great-grandfather) that the young people of the time couldn't do much with.

Contemporary witnesses report that interested students began to look for old couleur items through encrypted newspaper advertisements. Sometimes colored items (student hats, beer mugs, beer and wine tips, etc.) were offered in antique shops or directly at household liquidations. Later some students sewed their own pub jackets and sashes. Three-colored gift ribbon was also used as a ribbon replacement. Hats were made using, for example, butcher's hat badges.

At the time, the appearance of the students during the secret gatherings was more like dressing up in historical costumes and reenacting traditions ( see also: Living History ), especially since the color was still worn in mixed colors or sewn together in an amateur way, as found in the attics.

Due to the lack of literature on old traditions, new ones soon formed. One of the GDR connections' own creation was, for example, the use of the "beer cord". A cord around 30 centimeters long was given to all participants in a Kommerses or a pub. After each knotted salamander , a knot was tied into the beer cord. Knot salamanders are to be distinguished from honor salamanders, which are drunk in many student associations on Kommersen in honor of a member or in memory of deceased Philistines . Even today some of the members of the Rudelsburg Alliance still celebrate salamander bars. In memory of the color students in the GDR, the Hallenser Wingolf celebrates its semester bars as salamander bars.

Often in the pubs, similar to the old German costume , black trousers, white shirt (with tie or colored scarf), black waistcoat and a frock coat were worn.

Towards the end of the GDR period, professionally manufactured ribbons and hats were obtained through contacts with West German and Austrian connections.

After German reunification

Weinheimer Corps students at the Weinheim Conference 2010

Already months before the German reunification, student associations originally established in the east, which had moved to the Federal Republic after the Second World War, relocated to their old university towns on the territory of the GDR. So here, too, there was again a life of connections, which also includes the old colors. After a period of getting used to it in the new federal states, the relationship of the public to high-profile fraternity students has converged and largely standardized across Germany. While in the population - at least outside of the university locations - the student color has largely disappeared from the consciousness, there are groups that are very positive about the phenomenon, but also groups that express vehement criticism.

Groups that are critical of the student associations regularly warn new students against joining a student association ( see also: Burschi-Reader ). The phenomenon of the couleurs, which is now relatively unknown to the general public, serves as an occasion for malice and condescending formulations that are intended to make student traditions ridiculous in the eyes of young people:

Everyone has seen them: young men with funny caps on their heads and colorful ribbons strangled around their necks who stagger through the city with large flags. Funny to look at, but what's really behind it?

Another form of discrediting is to compare the manners and customs of fraternities with military behavior. Color elements are called " uniforms ". This is to discourage affiliation to students who have left their military service with bad memories or who have refused military service.

The character of the new fraternity should be shaped through military rites, strict hierarchies and rules. Important components are wearing a uniform, cap and ribbon, the so-called full wix.

Regardless of this, there are numerous important personalities in public life in Germany, Switzerland and Austria who wore color during their student days and in most cases still wear them today. In 2006, this group of people in Germany included the former Federal President Horst Köhler as well as three Prime Ministers and one Deputy Prime Minister of various federal states. When Günther Oettinger , former Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg and member of the striking and color-bearing association Landsmannschaft Ulmia Tübingen , had himself photographed in 2005 together with representatives of several student associations dressed in Vollwichs, this photo was taken by the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen party in the state election campaign used against the CDU. For example, a poster showed the picture with the subtitle “51 colorful dogs and a black sheep” ( see: Landsmannschaft Zaringia Heidelberg ).

Pope Benedict XVI was a member of a non-colored association as a student, but later accepted several honorary memberships of color-bearing Catholic student associations as a clergyman and in 1986 co-founded a color-bearing student association in Rome ( KAV Capitolina Rome ) as a "founding philistine" in 1986 .

In the 1990s there was also a wave of female associations founded in Germany, i.e. associations that only accept female members. These connections are practically all colored, so that today in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but also in Chile and the Baltic States, probably more women wear color than ever before.

2008: Color in Art

The student color attracted particular attention in the spring of 2008 through the flag installation “National Gallery” by the Romanian artist and Villa Romana Prize winner Daniel Knorr, who lives in Kreuzberg . As part of the 5th Berlin Biennale , he put up flags in the style of color field painting in the colors of the 58 Berlin student associations around the roof of the New National Gallery . These are understood as "references to the separated society and the failure of the modern ideal of transparency".

See also


  • Kurt U. Bertrams (Ed.): Past world of colors. Memories of Jewish Corporates. WJK, Hilden 2007, ISBN 3-933892-48-1 .
  • Harm-Hinrich Brandt , Matthias Stickler (eds.): “Der Burschen Herrlichkeit”. Past and present of student corporation . Student History Association of the Coburg Convent, Würzburg, 1998, ISBN 3-930877-30-9 , ( Historia Academica 36), ( Publications of the Würzburg City Archives 8).
  • Michael Doeberl , Otto Scheel , Wilhelm Schlink , Hans Sperl, Eduard Spanger, Hans Bitter, Paul Frank (eds.): The academic Germany . 4 volumes and a register volume, this edited by Alfred Bienengräber. Weller, Berlin, 1930–1931.
  • Oskar Dolch: History of the German student body from the founding of the German universities to the German wars of freedom. A historical attempt . Brockhaus, Leipzig 1858, (also: Photomechanischer Nachdruck. Verlag für Collectors, Graz 1968).
  • Norbert Elias : The satisfactory society . In: Norbert Elias: Studies on the Germans. Power struggles and habitus development in the 19th and 20th centuries . Edited by Michael Schröter. 4th edition. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1990, pp. 61-158.
  • Richard Fick (Ed.): On Germany's high schools. An illustrated cultural-historical representation of the German university and student system . Thilo, Berlin 1900, (Also: Fotomechanischer Nachdruck. SH-Verlag, Vierow bei Greifswald 1997, ISBN 3-89498-042-7 , ( Student History Library 5)).
  • Paulgerhard Gladen : Gaudeamus igitur. The student connections then and now . 2nd revised edition. Callwey, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-7667-0912-7 .
  • Sabrina Lausen: When colors mean the world. The academic Kulturkampf from 1903 to 1908 . In: Jan Carstensen, Gefion Apel (Hrsg.): Ready-to-use! Student associations in the empire . Reader for a student exhibition project. Westfälisches Freilichtmuseum Detmold, Detmold 2006, ISBN 3-926160-39-X , pp. 41-48, online (PDF; 15.4 MB) .
  • Robert Paschke : Student History Lexicon . From the estate, ed. and edit by Friedhelm Golücke . SH-Verlag, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-89498-072-9 , ( GDS archive for university history and student history, supplement 9).
  • Gerhard Richwien: Being a student ... A short cultural history . SH-Verlag, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-89498-049-4 , ( Small writings of the Association for German Student History (GDS) 15).
  • Erich Röhlke: Orange - Study of the symbolic content of a Kösener Corps color. In: Einst und Jetzt 14, 1969, ISSN  0420-8870 , pp. 137-148.
  • Friedrich Schulze, Paul Ssymank : The German student body. From the oldest times to the present . 4th completely revised edition. Verlag für Hochschulkunde, Munich 1932, (also reprint: Süddeutsche Hochschulverlags- und Vertriebsgesellschaft, Schernfeld 1991, ISBN 3-923621-90-6 , ( Student History Library 4)).
  • Hans Becker von Sothen: The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register . In: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research 39, 1994, ISSN  0420-8870 , pp. 175-230.
  • Frank Staeren: De Vlaamse Student Tradities (1875-1960). Herkomst-Ontstaan-Ontwikkeling. Onuitgegeven Licentiaatsverhandeling KULeuven, 1994. 203 p.
  • Manfred Studier: The corps student as an ideal image of the Wilhelminian era - investigations into the zeitgeist 1888 to 1914 , treatises on student and higher education, Volume 3, Schernfeld 1990, ISBN 3-923621-68-X

Web links

Commons : Studentica  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Student Union Portal  - Overview of Wikipedia content related to the Student Union
Wiktionary: Couleur  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Bund Nürnberger Studenten zu "Ribbon" and other badges of color, the focus of the presentation is on late developed manners and customs of Christian, non-striking connections Archivlink ( Memento from February 7th, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Board of the Association of Alter Corpsstudenten eV (VAC) (Ed.): Handbuch des Kösener Corpsstudenten , Würzburg 1985, Volume II, Item 1 "The individual corps in the KSCV", A "Preliminary remarks", B "Directory of the Kösener Corps in the KSCV" and C "Directory of the extinct corps in the KSCV"
  3. Click on "Member Associations"
  4. Erich Bauer: Schimmerbuch for young corps students , 4th edition, o. O., 1971, p. 13 f.
  5. Christian Helfer: Kösener Customs and Customs. 2nd edition, Saarbrücken 1991, p. 29.
  6. Erich Bauer: Schimmerbuch for young corps students , 4th edition, o. O., 1971, p. 14.
  7. Erich Bauer: From our customs , manual of the Kösener Corps student, 4th edition, Hamburg 1953, p. 85
  8. Jens-Uwe Brinkmann: … in every respect as beautiful as such work is done anywhere… - porcelain painting in Göttingen. Göttingen Municipal Museum, Göttingen 2000
  9. in country team uniforms with cockades on their three-pointed tips: a Westphalian, a Hanoverian, a Brunswick, a Holsteiner (from left to right)
  10. Hans Becker von Sothen: The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research , 1994, page 185 f.
  11. Hans Becker von Sothen: The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register . Einst und Jetzt 39 (1994), p. 182 f.
  12. ^ Rainer Pöppinghege: Between radicalism and adaptation. 200 years of student history . In: Jan Carstensen, Gefion Apel (Hrsg.): Ready-to-use! Student associations in the empire. Reader and exhibition catalog on behalf of the Westphalia-Lippe Regional Association for the exhibition in the Westphalian Open-Air Museum Detmold from August 15 to October 31, 2006, p. 12 f. ISBN 3-926160-39-X ISSN  1862-6939
  13. ^ Heinrich Heine: The Harz journey in the Gutenberg-DE project
  14. Eva Maria Schneider, Origin and Forms of Distribution of the “German National Costume of the Wars of Liberation” as an expression of political sentiment , Volume I, text part, dissertation Bonn 2002 (PDF; 1.7 MB)
  15. Hans Becker von Sothen: The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Society for Corps Student History Research , 1994, page 200
  16. Hans Becker von Sothen: The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research , 1994, page 191.
  17. Hans-Georg Schmeling: Göttingen in the 18th century. Catalog Göttingen 1987, p. 168
  18. Hans Becker von Sothen, The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Society for Corporate Student History Research , 1994, page 190.
  19. Peter Kaupp: "Let us wear a color, the color of the fatherland." From the colors of the Jenaische Urburschenschaft to the German colors. A contribution to the early history of black-red-gold. In: Yearbook of the Hambach Society 1990/91 , pp. 9–44.
  20. Hans Becker von Sothen, The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research, 1994, page 192 and note 182a
  21. ^ Corps Guestphalia Hall
  22. See also Corps Guestphalia Halle , Corps Hildeso-Guestphalia Göttingen !
  23. Hans Becker von Sothen, The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research , 1994, page 206 f.
  24. See also Corps Saxonia Jena , Corps Saxonia Bonn , Corps Saxonia Göttingen , Corps Saxonia Leipzig !
  25. Hans Becker von Sothen, The Göttingen connections and their colors 1800 to 1833. Represented on the basis of two pages in the register. , in: then and now. 1994 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research , 1994, page 203 f.
  26. ^ Gerhard Schneider, The Electorate of Hanover and the French Revolution, sources from the years 1791–1795 , Hildesheim 1989, page 78
  27. Ludwig Denecke, The name Rhenania and the old colors blue-red-white , in: Einst und Jetzt. 1993 yearbook of the Association for Corporate Student History Research , 1993, page 201 ff.
  28. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust. A tragedy. in the Gutenberg-DE project
  29. Thomas Schindler, The fight of the Cartel Convention (KC) against anti-Semitism . Once and Now 36 (1991), p. 189
  30. KC song book, Berlin 1921, p. 9
  31. quoted from Lorenz Oken in Isis or Encyclopädische Zeitung , report on the Wartburg Festival (1817) ( Memento from January 8, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  33. a b c d e Between Science and "Burschenherrlichkeit": Student Socialization in the German Empire, 1871–1914, Silke Möller Franz Steiner Verlag, 2001, pp. 11–114
  34. Otto Kraus: German-Baltic Corps, in: Board of the Association of Alter Corps Students eV (VAC) (ed.), Handbook of the Kösener Corps Students, Volume I, Würzburg 1985.
  35. Jasper von Altenbockum: Baltic Völkerkommers. Exit! Schmollis! Fiducite! In: Frankfurter Allgemeine June 16, 2008
  36. ^ Christiane Eisenberg: Football in Germany 1890-1914. A parlor game for the middle class. In: Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 20th year, issue 2/1994, pp. 184ff
  37. With a false beard half right When the relaxed bourgeoisie sifted offside: O wonderful football game, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 22nd 1994, No. 142, p. N5 Humanities
  38. Thomas Schindler: The fight of the Kartell-Convents (KC) against anti-Semitism , in: Einst und Jetzt, Volume 36, Yearbook 1991 of the Association for Corporate Student History Research, page 192
  39. ^ Hermann Berlak: The Cartel Convention of the Associations of German Students of the Jewish Faith (KC) , Berlin 1927, page 14 f.
  40. ^ Sven Waskönig: The everyday life of the Berlin fraternity students in the Third Reich using the example of the Kösener Corps at the Friedrich Wilhelm University. In: Rüdiger vom Bruch , Christoph Jahr, Rebecca Scharschmidt (ed.): The Berlin University in the Nazi era. Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-515-08657-9 , p. 159
  41. Thomas Schindler: The fight of the cartel convent (KC) against anti-Semitism . Once and Now 36 (1991), p. 200
  42. Horst Bernhardi: Frisia Gottingensis 1931–1956 , Heide 1956
  43. ^ Franz Stadtmüller : History of the Corps Hannovera Göttingen zu Göttingen 1809-1959 , Göttingen 1963
  44. Georg Bacmeister: Corps under National Socialism: z. B. Brunsviga Göttingen , in Einst und Jetzt 45 (2000), p. 215 ff.
  45. ^ Rolf-Joachim Baum: Die Würzburger Bayern part 2. Corps history in pictures , Munich: Birds 1985, page 312
  46. ^ Franz Stadtmüller : History of the Corps Hannovera zu Göttingen. Göttingen 1963, p. 316
  47. ^ Stadtmüller: History of the Corps Hannovera zu Göttingen. Göttingen 1963, p. 323
  48. Heinridi David: "Controversy about bat, cap and tape" in: Die Zeit , 29/1957 Online
  49. ^ Alfred Grosser : History of Germany since 1945. A balance sheet , 5th edition Munich 1977, page 365 f. (1st edition 1974, original French title L'Allemagne de Notre Temps ) ISBN 3-423-01007-X
  50. ^ Rainer Pöppinghege: Between radicalism and adaptation. 200 years of student history in: Jan Carstensen and Gefion Apel (eds.): Quick-witted! Student Associations in the Empire - Reader for a student exhibition project , Westfälisches Freilichtmuseum Detmold, Detmold, 2006, ISBN 3-926160-39-X , p. 17.
  53. Knot salamander of the Hallenser Wingolf under archive link ( Memento from September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  54. Internet publication of the Green University Youth Göttingen
  55. Information sheet from Rosa Antifa Vienna
  56. Jochen Leffers: Liaison student absolutely does not want to advertise for Greens . In: Spiegel Online . July 28, 2005 ( online ).
  58. See also: Association of Colored Girls
  59. Berlin: Lange Schatten,;art772,2506395
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on October 8, 2005 .