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Konrad H. Jarausch, The Sources of German Student Unrest 1815-1848 [1974] [Abstract]

The student revolt of 1968 inspired historical investigations for its historical antecedents, one of which was the radical movement of the Burschenschaft. This was a national and liberal association of German students, founded at the end of the Napoleonic wars, repressed by Metternich’s reaction, which resurfaced in the 1820s, was once again persecuted in the following decade, only to reemerge as a progressive democratic challenge before and during the revolution of 1848. In contrast to older organizational and ideological approaches, this essay looks more critically at the evolution of student subculture. Moreover, on the basis of enrollment statistics and matriculation registers, it explores the overcrowding crisis of the 1830s, the diversification of social origins of the student body and the specific motivations of the radicals. Offering a social explanation of activism, the article proposes an intermediary framework of radicalism, stressing “a value gap, political repression, institutional malfunction, and social frustration.”