After German missionaries arrived in the Baltic region, on the coast of the Baltic Sea in 1180, this area in north-east Europe soon became the common home of Estonians, Latvians, and Germans. These (Baltic) Germans had contact with the Estonians and Latvians in many fields, for example in the 19th century and onward at the Universities in Tartu and Riga. Thus, a student culture common to Estonians, Latvians and Baltic Germans developed resulting in the formation of cultural associations and fraternities. Their mutual relationships were characterized by respect. Student fraternities with a different ethnical background were part of this culture as well. In this context, especially Polish fraternities have to be mentioned.
As a result of the Hitler-Stalin-Pact in 1939, where Estonia and Latvia were annexed by the Soviet Union, many Estonians and Latvians were forced into exile, and the Baltic Germans resettled in Germany. While attention to the old academic culture was no longer feasible in Estonia and Latvia, some of the resettled Baltic Germans revived old traditions in their new homeland.
Over the course of decades, an active academic scene open to all students came into being. Today this scene includes, for example, the Baltic Philistines' Association, the fraternities Concordia Rigensis zu Hamburg, Fraternitas Dorpatensis zu München and Curonia Goettingensis zu Göttingen, as well as the Organization for the Promotion of German-Baltic Friendship VFV.
When the liberation from communism in Estonia, Latvia and Poland and the rebirth of Estonia and Latvia as independent states took place in 1991, there was also an awakening of the old student culture. Today these countries have many student fraternities with thousands of members who do not only participate in academic life, but also in the political, economical, and scientific sectors.