The New International Encyclopædia/Burschenschaft
BURSCHENSCHAFT, bōōr'shen-shäft (Ger. Bursche, fellow, apprentice, student, from MHG. burse, purse; society, especially of students, with a common purse). An association of students in the German universities to promote patriotism, morality, and love of liberty. The earliest organization was at Jena in 1815, and its membership was chiefly made up of students who had fought in the War of Liberation. The idea spread to Tübingen, Heidelberg, Halle, and Giessen. In 1817, the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of Luther's initiation of the Reformation, a general gathering took place at the Wartburg, and the following year a constitution was adopted by delegates from fourteen universities. Black, red, and gold, since taken as the national colors of the new German Empire, were adopted as the colors of the association. The murder of Kotzebue by Sand, a fanatical student, in 1819, injured the movement for freedom in Germany and led to repressive measures, such as the Karlsbad Decrees (q.v.), which required the suppression of the Burschenschaft, but secret meetings were still held, and there was a revival of the organization in 1827. The Burschenschaft participated in the Liberal demonstration known as the Hambach Festival in 1832. A revolutionary attempt took place at Frankfort-on-the-Main in 1833, in which nearly 2000 students were implicated, and in nearly all of the German universities students were arrested, imprisoned, and disfranchised. The ideals of the Burschenschaft were unattainable and vague; but they served well at a trying time to keep alive the spirit of German unity.