Fighting for the Soul of Germany

Fighting for the Soul of Germany: The Catholic Struggle for Inclusion after Unification

Rebecca Ayako Bennette
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 368
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Fighting for the Soul of Germany
    Book Description:

    Historians have long believed that Catholics were late and ambivalent supporters of the German nation. Rebecca Ayako Bennette’s bold new interpretation demonstrates definitively that from the beginning in 1871, when Wilhelm I was proclaimed Kaiser of a unified Germany, Catholics were actively promoting a German national identity for the new Reich.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06480-5
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Map: The German Empire, 1871–1918
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    ″If the Reich is to have a future,” the Catholic politician and newspaper editor Julius Bachem wrote in 1872, the people would need to decide carefully what the new nation should become. The right choice would lead to greatness. Yet Bachem bemoaned that liberals formed the “leading parties” at the moment and even the government was, in the end, at “their bidding.” He asserted it was liberal influence that was responsible for the current “un-German” direction the nation was headed in. Only the “true friends of the Fatherland” could stop this. There was no time to lose, Bachem stressed, as...

  6. PART I Antecedents and the Four Phases of the Kulturkampf
    • ONE The German Question and Religion
      (pp. 15-21)

      Joseph Görres was only eighteen when French Revolutionary troops entered Koblenz in 1794. Like many other educated Rhinelanders, he initially greeted the spread of republican ideals beyond the borders of France with enthusiasm. Indeed, the young writer who would become known for his support of German nationalism and contributions to a nascent political Catholicism got his start as a pamphleteer by writing pro-French pieces. A member of the first republican club in the city, the Patriotic Society, Görres used his pen repeatedly to prevent the return of Archbishop Clemens Wenzeslaus—and the ancien régime with him—to Koblenz, which the...

    • TWO The Beginning of the German Epoch
      (pp. 22-41)

      Catholic supporters of a grossdeutsch unification saw an end to all such hopes with the Prussian defeat of Austria in 1866, a loss that likely shocked them all the more because of the speed with which the Hapsburg forces capitulated. Yet realistic expectations of an Austrian-led Germany had already begun to wane before that.¹ However painful the final blow of 1866 must have been to some—and there are notable examples of this grief—it did not provoke an “apocalyptic mood” among Catholics, as Thomas Nipperdey rightly asserted.² Certainly some withdrew further from national affairs into particularism, especially in the...

    • THREE The Limits of Loyalty Tested
      (pp. 42-52)

      While many Catholic Germans greeted unification with acceptance as well as enthusiasm and remained hopeful about their prospects for inclusion longer than often acknowledged in the literature, this had its limits. Far from being the general attitude espoused throughout the 1870s or beyond, fundamental doubts about the very Reich itself arose at a particular point during the Kulturkampf and, more importantly, dissipated long before the end of it. Of course, other scholars have discerned the waxing and waning of events during the 1870s, often noting a certain highpoint of the Kulturkampf during the middle of the decade. The flurry of...

    • FOUR The Real Threat Emerges
      (pp. 53-65)

      If the beginning of 1875 saw the low point of Catholic confidence in the Reich, the end of the year brought with it a marked sense that fortunes were about to change. Continuously targeted as enemies of the Reich since its founding, Catholics now saw the chance to rid themselves of this outsider status by switching the focus to another group. Initially prominent Catholic voices identified Jews as this group. Scholars have written extensively on the outburst of Catholic anti-Semitic rhetoric during the Kulturkampf. While the literature also reflects the long-term opposition between political Catholicism and socialism, however, it has...

    • FIVE The Search for Continued Relevance
      (pp. 66-75)

      By the fall of 1877, the long hoped for end of the Kulturkampf became something Catholics increasingly began to think of as a real possibility for the near future. Reflecting this, attention turned more and more to what role Catholics would play in the Reich after the end of the bitter struggle that had so deeply impacted them since 1871. Stressing openness to potential overtures of peace, one of the earliest newspaper articles to discuss how to move beyond the conflict noted that Catholics “have learned a great deal,” including “to forget a lot.” Indeed, highlighting the role of common...

  7. PART II The Formation of Catholic National Identity
    • SIX Mapping Germany from the Borders to Berlin
      (pp. 76-95)

      In November 1872, a lead article in Germania claimed with exasperation that never before had it read such inflammatory “confessional agitation” as that recently printed in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (NAZ), Berlin’s semi-official government newspaper. Allegedly part of a recent, larger trend stemming from semi-official, liberal, and even Protestant church publications, these efforts to turn every issue into a conflict between the confessions only further damaged the process of true (internal) unification in Germany. Accompanying mottos such as “the State against Catholicism” were misguided enough, but the calls for “Protestantism against Catholicism” that had been appearing more often lately took...

    • SEVEN Femininity and the Debate over the Guiding Principle of the Nation
      (pp. 96-121)

      In an April 1874 letter to Gerhard Schneemann, a Jesuit living in the Netherlands at the time, fellow priest and historian Johannes Janssen wrote of his mixed feelings about the situation in Germany. On the one hand, he felt optimistic about how the Church would weather the attacks of the Kulturkampf. Yet, apprehension pervaded his mood when thinking about the fate of the Reich: “It is just that as a patriot I am so very sorry the German Volk is being so ruined in its noble qualities that it has still preserved from the past, above all that the youth...

    • EIGHT The Battle over Schools and Scholarship
      (pp. 122-156)

      In 1872, a new edition of Center parliamentarian August Reichensperger’s book Phrasen und Schlagwörter: Ein Noth- und Hülfsbüchlein für Zeitungsleser appeared.¹ Though Reichensperger had written the original in 1862 and had put out only one more edition since that time, the drastic change in the social and political climate produced by the Kulturkampf prompted him to offer readers a significantly enlarged version.² Despite the changed circumstances, Reichensperger’s intentions remained the same: he wanted to expose what he saw as the shaky foundation of German liberals’ ideas. A prolific writer, Reichensperger believed that words mattered. He even included a saying by...

    • NINE The Moral Geography of Europe and Beyond
      (pp. 157-186)

      In the midst of the Kulturkampf, the priest Joseph Bischoff added another book to his literary arsenal in defense of Catholicism with the publication of Urdeutsch in 1875.¹ Bischoff, better known by his pen name Conrad von Bolanden, had already written books on Luther, Gustavus Adolphus, Franz von Sickingen, and many other confessionally charged topics. Indeed, on the eve of the Kulturkampf, Bischoff had become such a prolific and popular author among Catholics that he resigned his pastorate of ten years in Berghausen to become a full-time writer in 1869, living well off his literary income alone. Not only the...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 187-194)

    This book has uncovered how German Catholics constructed their own vision of the nation, their own idea of what the true Germany was—and could be. Contrary to the idea that their confessional identity kept them from developing a national one after unification in 1871, Catholics’ religion fundamentally informed how they understood themselves as belonging in the new Germany. Certainly they imagined a very different Germany than that proposed in the dominant, largely Protestant vision of the first decade. The acrimonious conflict of the Kulturkampf that raged throughout the 1870s was as much about religion as it was about what...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 195-312)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-350)
  11. Index
    (pp. 351-368)