Pug in black and white, looking suspicious.

The Secret of the Wedge Dog

The True True Story of the Order of the Goettingen Pug

A small dog, a secret lodge, the University of Göttingen – do they not belong together? Yes Yes! Because there was briefly a secret connection on Georgia Augusta that seemed to revolve around only one thing: pugs. His watery eyes, his whispering breath, his deeply furrowed brow – what animal screams “mysterious secret connection” more than him?! High time to look for clues.

This story begins like many others: on Wikipedia. Too much time, too little appetite for real tasks, click click click and suddenly I see him in front of me – pug order. And with that, my enlightenment regarding secret lodges: rumors are true, everything is true. Or he lied. Or pretended by a select group of… pugs. How else is it that this job never crossed my path during my student years, which is not to be underestimated!?! After a deep dive into the Department of Cultural Studies, I know: yes, she really existed. And yes, there was one in Göttingen. Hold on to your tinfoil hats, turn on your Telegram alerts, and get ready to look at these canine pets in a different way forever.

Pug – looks very suspicious.
Pug, pug, big pug

My search for clues leads me deep into the dark abysses of Georg Augusta… Or: the ground floor of the Paulinerkirche. Holger Berwinkel is guarding there University Archivist, namely documents from 280 years of university history. “We actually know very little about the Goettingen pugs,” Mr. Berwinkel admits—a good first step for conspiracy theories of all kinds—but then he can still show me the pugs’ ledger and the minutes of the university’s internal court action against the order. . Nothing is lost in the German bureaucracy.

Contrary to any good ntv documentary, the 18th century George August University was no friend to student secret societies. After having already banned the so-called Landsmannschaften in 1747, the short-lived pug order should also have been banned at the beginning of 1748.

But let’s start from the beginning: Secret lodges were all the rage in the 18th century. Inspired by the Freemasons (AHA! It could only be a matter of time before they came into play) around 1740 pug lodges were being established all over Europe. “The Pugs took their cues from Freemasonry, leaving out the metaphysical content and taking rituals and commitments more like a game, less seriously,” explains Mr. Berwinkel. “They were a social phenomenon of the 18th century, the epoch of the Enlightenment. The establishment of student regulations was also in line with the trend.”

 

Pug – Playful Freemason.

You can say “game” out loud because their ceremonies seem just as absurd as you’d expect from a club called “Mopsorden”. For example, for initiation, new members had to scream and scratch at the box door before being led around the room blindfolded by a collar and then kissed by a pug figure at the bottom. What else?

“Pug orders were actually an elite affair,” Mr. Berwinkel explains to me. For example, even William of Prussia, sister of Frederick the Great and Margrave of Bayreuth, was a Grand Pug (yes, that is indeed an official term. “Pug” can probably be used analogously to the word “Smurf” in the context of the order.) of the pug lodge. And this in itself is something particularly remarkable, because the order already accepted women, pugs, into its ranks (a revolutionary step, which, by the way, Masonic lodges have not dared to do until today, no point).

A brief history of the Goettinger Mopserei

However, the Göttingen Lodge does not quite fit into the picture. The Göttingen branch was, on the one hand, a student order, which in the 18th century meant nothing more than “consistently male”. On the other hand, a bunch of students ranked themselves a few notches below the high nobility socially. The archivist therefore has a different suspicion: perhaps the order was not “seriously thought of as pompous”, but simply a rebranded successor to the recently banned Landsmannschaften – associations of students from the same home regions. Perhaps, however, Masons who were prevented from doing so organized themselves into the pug order after not being admitted to the young Masonic lodge in Göttingen.

“Or was he an insidious little dog who wanted to win over student after student and take over the world?” I wonder to myself. All the possibilities just seem equally likely to me!

All pugs listed by name.

The pug order had 50 members in almost three months of its existence. What some university groups would be happy about today meant for the young and still very manageable University of Göttingen: every tenth student was a pug.

But it was over very quickly with Mopserei. Trigger: an argument between drunken shack brothers. This was followed by detention in a prison, interrogations of those arrested, and a small but significant marginal note by the Syndicate, the head of administration at the university: Ergo Iuridictionem exercent pug brothers (Latin, of course! So the Illuminati!).

Ergo Iuridictionem exercent pug brothers!

Herr Berwinkel translates what my school Latin can no longer do: So pug brothers exercise jurisdiction! “A red line was crossed because the university had disciplinary authority over the students,” explains Mr. Berwinkel. If a student committed a crime, it was up to the university to punish him. It started with a few days of smoking tobacco in public and had virtually no upper limit. “You could even issue death sentences with confirmation from Hanover.

Pugs must stay outside

Why was the university so strict about pugs back then? Was she trying to hide an even darker secret? Am I in for another Da Vinci Code Jesus revealed to posterity (pardon the spoilers)? Mr. Berwinkel sees things a little more down-to-earth. The magic word here for him is penalism.

Pug – on the verge of infiltrating the disciplinary authority of the university.

Penalism, the exploitative taming of new students by older semesters, had existed at other German universities since the Middle Ages. Donations of money, weird initiation rituals — “the kind you might know from American college comedies,” says Mr. Berwinkel. Just more medieval. In Göttingen, however, penalism was to be ruled out from the start. “It was just beginning in Göttingen. The government in Hanover was still nervous whether this young sapling would blossom and triumph over the old universities.” No one could afford to be penalized and have their own jurisdiction through religious orders and compatriot associations—a state within a state, so to speak. “The pug order came at the wrong time,” concludes the archivist.

And then? “Did the pugs leave any tracks?” I ask, hoping for the answer “They’ve been working underground ever since!”. But Mr. Berwinkel does me no favors: “No,” he replies simply. The Pugs are nothing more than a brief episode in the history of Georgia Augusta.
But is that really all? So many questions are still open! Why do we know so little about Göttinger pugs? How much did Loriot know? Why was there never an order for French Bulldogs? And isn’t it possible that people still secretly gather to howl at doors and kiss pugs’ bottoms? My search for the truth has only just begun!

 

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