As early as the Middle Ages and as in the whole of Europe, students in Strasbourg were organised in associations of various kinds: “Nations” bringing together young people from the same country, “orders”, theological or scientific circles, etc. Thus, theology students, previously united in a choir or “Singkränzel”, founded in 1855 an essentially Christian corporation: the WILHELMITANA. Its practices were inspired by the Germanic student traditions, very present in Strasbourg from the beginning of the 19th century and characterised, among other things, by the wearing of a cap and a cord in the colours of the corporation.
The Second World War marked the end of the former student guilds in Strasbourg, as the Nazi occupation forced them to dissolve. In their place, he created “Kameradschaften” with clearly political aims. After the war, only the Wilhelmitana was reconstituted by its former members in the form of an “academic circle” with the aim of “the spiritual and intellectual development of the members, young and old, on the basis of a lasting friendship nourished by Christian and liberal principles” (Wolfram Zink, president of the Wilhelmitana for many years). The choice was made, however, to abandon the old Germanic tradition for the most part to blend into an environment where only French student traditions, including the Faluchards, were now available to students from Strasbourg. Still somewhat active at the beginning of the twenty-first century, WILHELMITANA has thus persisted in one form or another up to the present day.
The Erasmus programme is an opportunity for students to spend some time in a foreign university. It is through this programme that three Austrian students arrived in Strasbourg in 1992. They missed the cordial atmosphere of their Austrian association, the SEVERINA in Linz, so they set up a similar association in Strasbourg. The three Austrians chose the name ALSATIA and an orange-purple-orange cord on a black background. The “ALSATIA Students’ Circle” is carried on the baptismal font on 25 September 1992 in the presence of representatives of the Federation of Catholic Student Associations of Austria (ÖCV), the Federation of Catholic Students of Flanders (KVHV), the Federation of Catholic Student Associations in Germany, the Office of the Federation of Catholic Student Associations of Germany (CV), the Offenburg Circle of CV Alumni as well as some students from Karlsruhe, members of the CV. On this occasion, Roland Schauer, nicknamed Columbus, the founding president, underlined the European character of the ALSATIA Student Circle, whose aim is to bring together students from different countries enrolled in Strasbourg. Other founding members include Armin Obermayr, Paul Saey, Silvano Zampolli dei Curt and Wilfried Lohn.
At the end of 1992, ALSATIA already had twelve “Actifs” (student members), including several French students. At the 107th General Assembly of the German CV, held in Berlin in 1993, the CV concludes a friendship agreement with ALSATIA, allowing members of the CV associations to join it. In the same year, similar agreements are negotiated with the Austrian (ÖCV) and Swiss (SchwStV) federations. Similarly, ALSATIA is accepted into the European Federation of Faith-Based Student Associations (Europäischer Kartellverband). Several university graduates, already members of the German CV or KV, accept to join and thus constitute the first group of alumni. Professor Peter Martin Litfin, nicknamed Chagall, a member of the CV, becomes the Senior (President). Father Criqui, the Catholic military chaplain of the Eurocorps, ensures the spiritual accompaniment of the association until his retirement and welcomes his activities in the chaplaincy’s premises.
In 1994 and 1996, ALSATIA successfully celebrated the anniversary of its creation (“Stiftungsfest”), festivities to which two members of the former Strasbourg Catholic corporation Alsatia, created in 1926 and disappeared with the outbreak of the Second World War, were invited. It is this homonymy with the former Alsatia that will make our corporation somewhat suspect. Indeed, the former Alsatia had, it seems, had a strongly autonomist orientation in the inter-war period, something completely unknown to the founders of the new ALSATIA. In order to make our liberal and European commitment more legible, these, namely J. Opritesco (Senior of the Actives), P. Litfin, M. Nagler, S. Zampolli, E. Gresser, E. Mousson-Lestang, H. Schreck and W. Lohn, therefore decided on June 26, 1996 to rename the corporation, honouring both a father of Europe, Robert SCHUMAN, and Strasbourg, capital of Alsace and Europe. Our corporation will henceforth be called ROBERT SCHUMAN ARGENTORATA (RSA) and the colors of Europe will compose its own.
In the years that followed, the number of RSA employees fluctuated greatly, but this did not prevent the regular organization of two major annual celebrations: the anniversary of our foundation (“Stiftungsfest”) and the Christmas party (“Weihnachtskneipe”). The number of active members remains at a sufficient level and the alumni, mainly H. Schreck, M. Nagler and M. Vorbeck, ensure the cohesion of the whole.
On 16 October 1999, an EKV colloquy was hosted in Strasbourg, an event marked by a very successful official evening at the restaurant “Le Canon”. The Stiftungsfest 2000 is organised on 15 April in the WILHELMITANA house in the Quartier des Quinze. In the autumn of the same year, W. Lohn created our first website and contacts were made with Professor Mattoug, a member of T! Hansea Bielefeld, the German city where he studied. In 2001, six French and six German students make up the Active group. In the summer of the same year, H. Schreck published the first issue of our newsletter.
In February 2002, Miro Barukcic from Fribourg (Switzerland) comes to continue his studies in Strasbourg. Very quickly, he gets in touch with the Alumni of the RSA who propose him to take over the animation of the Active Group. Miro carries out his task in an efficient way since he presents a large number of new Active members at the Stiftungsfest 2002. On September 28th of the same year, Professor M. Mattoug joined our ranks during a ceremony at the Military Chaplaincy where the RSA cord was handed over to him.
Although he returned to Switzerland, Miro continues to give his advice and support to the Assets. O. Pernet succeeds Miro as Senior of the Assets and in this capacity organises the 2003 Stiftungsfest on his parents’ vineyard in Dambach-la-Ville, which is attended by a large delegation of Swiss corporations.
In August 2003, the second RSA Bulletin is published. In the same year, Father Criqui begins his well-deserved retirement but, in fact, we no longer benefit from the premises of the military chaplaincy. In November, the RSA has to mourn the death of his friend W. Zink, President of WILHELMITANA for many years. The 12th Stiftungsfest is organized within the framework of the EKV colloquium (April 2004), a celebration in which several Faluchards participate, through Mr Mattoug. Maximilien Muller is the first of them to receive the RSA cordon (26.11.2004).
The 13th Stiftungsfest is organized for the first time in the “K’fet des sciences” of the University Louis Pasteur in the presence of many Faluchards. E. Gresser now assumes the function of Senior Alumni, M. Mattoug that of Consenior/Vice-Senior Alumni and M. Muller that of Senior Active. On November 18, 2005, the RSA and the Faluchards organize the 1st European Banquet of Student Traditions in Strasbourg. In January 2006, the RSA is invited by SEVERINA Linz to participate in the annual CV Ball, the theme of which this year is “Paris dances in Linz”.
On the occasion of the 14th Stiftungsfest in April 2006, four Füxe (probationary members) are welcomed to the RSA.
In 2007, a bilingual programme of activities is published. Our active members go again to the CV Ball in Linz and participate in the Stiftungsfest of corporations in Heidelberg and Munich. The year-end European Banquet is again a success.
In 2008, Cem Ulu succeeds Max Muller as Senior of the Actifs, whose group has now been well strengthened and organises numerous activities to maintain the relations between the members. These activities are now included in an official bilingual programme, in colour and pocket format, which is widely distributed. At the end of 2008, the RSA made a significant contribution to the success of the European Student Tradition Banquet, which was attended by many students associations from France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Italy and Spain.
J. Klamecki succeeds Cem Ulu as Senior of Assets in 2008. At that time the RSA had six Füxe.
The 17th Stiftungsfest of 8-9 May 2009 is organised, thanks to the support of G. Hentz, member of WILHELMITANA, in the former house of the latter in the Quartier des Quinze. Numerous guests from Düsseldorf and Offenburg are taking part. The official speech is given by Jean Cyr DARBY on the theme “The Wilhelmitana: 150 years of tradition looking to the future”. M. Mattoug becomes Senior of the Alumni, assisted by Jean Cyr Darby (Consenior / Vice-Senior), H. Schreck (Secretary) and M. Vorbeck (Treasurer). On the side of the Assets group, Th. Chapouthier is appointed Senior.
The European objectives and ideals of our corporation have been the same since its creation: it contributes at its level to the rooting of the Strasbourg student world in the European idea and to the exchange of knowledge on the different student traditions. The Active Group, which now has a majority Alsatian and French component, has thus taken over the Germanic student traditions and has, by this means, offered them a second life in Strasbourg, a city at the confluence of Latin and Germanic cultures.
H. Schreck – August 2009 (Trad. and French adaptation: JC Darby, English trad: L. Bouchard).