A country can be judged nowadays by its national sport. Here in the United States, for instance, baseball reigns supreme, and the game calls forth all the traditional American qualities. There is need for teamwork and fair play in the game. And there is the pitting of one man, the batter, against another, the pitcher, that retains the elements of good old “rugged individualism.”
In England, the crowds turn out for cricket, or rugby, the fine old British game in which all the players jumble together and the winning team is the one that muddles through the better.
There is a reason for this trespassing on the territory of the watchful sports editor. We wanted to work up to a grand climax. We wanted to tell of the Nazi national sport, a sport that is just as representative of the Germany of today as baseball is of modern America. It is representative of today’s Germany in its brutality, its cruelty, its inhumanity, its glorification of bloodletting.
For the Nazi national sport is the Mensur-the student duel.
Frederic Glover, who was graduated from Leland Stanford University last year and is now spending his time doing post-graduate work at the once-great universities of Germany, has written a description of a Mensur in the current issue of Esquire.
Glover tells of the duels he witnessed personally, or as much of the duels as he had stomach enough to stand. For Nazi sport demands strong stomachs and perhaps, weak minds.
Members of the student fraternities must go through a regular apprenticeship of Mensuring before they are recognized as fullfledged, red-blooded Nazi he-men. First, it seems, you must have taken part in at least two duels before you can get out of the hated category of “Fuchs” (fox), or freshman. And everybody knows you’re a “Fuchs” because you have to wear certain colors on your fraternity cap and on the band across your chest.
After you’ve had your two duels, and your face is sufficiently slashed and scarred, you have the distinction of being called a “Bursche” (fellow), corresponding to an upperclassman, and your colors are changed. But that’s not all. If you want to remain in the fraternity, you must have taken part in at least six Mensurs every four semesters.
A detailed description of one of these duels would be revolting even to the newspaper reader accustomed to seeing news items about kidnapers, criminals-at-large, murderers, sadists and Nazis.
Even young Glover, hardening himself as much as he could, what with trying to put on a good front before his Nazi friends, couldn’t stay out the whole duel-fest he saw in Hamburg.
He saw human being slashing cold-bloodedly at one another with razor-sharp sabers, and he saw young students faint from loss of blood and from pain, and he saw stolid German doctors cut away the jagged flesh with a pair of scissors and sew up faces, all without administering an anaesthetic.
That is the new national sport of Germandom, legalized six months ago and now glorified by the Nazi leaders.
There can be no doubt that the sport represents the spirit of the new Germany.
And therein lies an explanation of the senseless brutality in the Nazis’ persecution of those whom they hate.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.