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Mensur scars. In the late 19th and early 20th century, young upper class German and Austrian men engaged in ritualized scarring of the cheek during academic fencing bouts as a sign of their bravery. Swords, not foils were used and the scars were considered a badge of honour and a status symbol. Some men would pack the wound with horsehair so it would leave a more gruesome scar.

Student Mensur: It was all the rage to ensure you got a suave facial scar. So much so that it was made illegal to intentionally inflict one. Ironically, Adolf Hitler viewed it as 'barbaric'.

Mensur auf Englisch, Übersetzung Englisch-Deutsch Wörterbuch Online |

Obtaining the Schmiß, not for the squeamish. Burschenschaft Cimbria Berlin. Photograph taken circa 1914, via Flickr.

"Die Mensur." | Letter kindly translated by xiphophilos. Card addressed to a Fräulein Mie. Stände, Leipzig, Eberhardtstr. 3 III. Mensur (academic fencing) is a tradition unique to the German student fraternities. The resulting scar - the Schmiß (sometimes called the Renommiertschmiß; the bragging scar) is generally found on the left side of the student's face, owing to duelling a right-handed opponent. Unlike regular fencing however, the only movement permitted i...

"Mensur im Saal" by drakegoodman, via Flickr