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German Nationalism and Religious Conflict

German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914

Helmut Walser Smith
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 286
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    German Nationalism and Religious Conflict
    Book Description:

    The German Empire of 1871, although unified politically, remained deeply divided along religious lines. InGerman Nationalism and Religious Conflict,Helmut Walser Smith offers the first social, cultural, and political history of this division. He argues that Protestants and Catholics lived in different worlds, separated by an "invisible boundary" of culture, defined as a community of meaning.

    As these worlds came into contact, they also came into conflict. Smith explores the local as well as the national dimensions of this conflict, illuminating for the first time the history of the Protestant League as well as the dilemmas involved in Catholic integration into a national culture defined primarily by Protestantism.

    The author places religious conflict within the wider context of nation-building and nationalism. The ongoing conflict, conditioned by a long history of mutual intolerance, was an integral part of the jagged and complex process by which Germany became a modern, secular, increasingly integrated nation. Consequently, religious conflict also influenced the construction of German national identity and the expression of German nationalism. Smith contends that in this religiously divided society, German nationalism did not simply smooth over tensions between two religious groups, but rather provided them with a new vocabulary for articulating their differences. Nationalism, therefore, served as much to divide as to unite German society.

    Originally published in 1995.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6389-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-Viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Notes on Usage and Translation
    (pp. xv-1)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. 2-4)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 5-16)

    Nations depend on a certain amount of fellow feeling, on a sense, however contrived, that fellow citizens represent kith and kin. Typically this sense derives from a common history, a common memory. Yet while that memory may evoke heroic acts and legendary figures of the distant past, it may also recall civil war and religious intolerance, hatred and persecution, betrayal and subterfuge. ʺThe essence of a nation,ʺ wrote the nineteenth-century French social philosopher Ernest Renan, ʺis that all the individuals have many things in common and also that they have already well forgotten some of them.ʺ Memory is a blessing...


    • 1 The Kulturkampf and German National Identity
      (pp. 19-49)

      ʺThe Kulturkampf,ʺ Otto Pflanze has written, ʺwas a kaleidoscope, altering its shape with each angle of observation.ʺ¹ Generations of scholars, when observing this event, took primary cognizance of the church-state conflict, a struggle fought between Bismarck and the Vatican, and carried out by Catholic bishops and Prussian ministers. Thus defined, the conflict commenced with the pulpit paragraph of 1871, which forbade ʺthe misuse of the pulpit for political purposesʺ and concluded, depending on the political proclivities of the historian, either in 1878, when Bismarck first entered into negotiations with Pope Leo XIII, or in 1887, when the most onerous Kulturkampf...

    • 2 Visions of the Nation: The Ideology of Religious Conflict
      (pp. 50-78)

      Like the world of T. S. Eliotʹs ʺhollow men,ʺ the struggle that Constantin Rössler considered the greatest event of the age ended ʺnot with a bang but a whimper.ʺ In 1878, Bismarck began gradually to repeal the measures most odious to the Catholic church while retaining legislation especially dear to Protestants and liberals. By 1887, the state had relinquished some of its control over the appointment of parish priests, had exempted Catholic theology students from cultural examinations, and had repatriated select monastic orders as well as Catholic priests who had actively resisted Kulturkampf legislation. But state supervision of schools remained,...

    • 3 Religious Conflict and Social Life
      (pp. 79-114)

      What did it matter? Of what consequence were the speculations, often sophomoric, of a wayward parish priest about the nature of his Germanness? Self-evidently, the relationship between religious and national identity was a subject of importance to pastors—but did it matter to the people? The simple answer to these questions must be yes, it did matter, and it mattered much more than German historians until recently have been willing to admit For religion, like class, was a central, defining category for imperial German citizens, whether Protestant or Catholic But there is also a complex answer to these questions that...


    • 4 The Politics of Nationalism and Religious Conflict, 1897–1906
      (pp. 117-140)

      Well after the Kulturkampf, religious antagonism continued to be a prominent part of national life, leaving its mark on German culture, ideology, and society. At the turn of the century, it also left its imprint in the realm of national politics. As the German government devised strategies to mobilize the nationalist sentiment of both Protestants and Catholics, the constrictions that a long history of division and discord placed on the national state, far from diminishing, became increasingly evident.

      Beginning in 1897, the imperial German government worked out a series of strategies to rally German national sentiment behind an imperialist program...

    • 5 The Politics of Nationalism and Religious Conflict, 1907–14
      (pp. 141-166)

      On 11 December 1906, Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow dissolved the Reichstag and publicly summoned nationally minded men to an electoral ʺstruggle against ultramontanes, Guelfs, socialists, and Poles.ʺ¹ Throughout the empire, German nationalists reacted to Bulowʹs battle call with swift pens, producing a profusion of placards and penny pamphlets maligning Catholic patriotism, vilifying the Center party.² ʺRoman ultramontanism is not national,ʺ asserted one broadside in particularly bold print. Rather, it is ʺthe greatest enemy of our people and fatherland.ʺ³ Pundits, liberal and conservative alike, praised Bernhard von Bulow for pointing the German people in the direction of its national destiny while,...


    • 6 Protestants, Catholics, and Poles: Religious and Nationality Conflicts in the Empireʹs Ethnically Mixed Areas, 1897–1914
      (pp. 169-205)

      Throughout most of Germany, religious conflict occurred in ethnically homogeneous areas. The main issue of contention between Protestants and Catholics was not who belonged to the nation but how the nation, to which both groups belonged, was to be imagined—who was to determine its history, who was to define its culture and politics, and who was to guard its memory. In the areas of mixed religion and ethnicity—in Alsace and Lorraine and in the lands of Prussian Poland—conflicts between the confessions assumed added layers of complexity.¹ Here populations were more fluid, the sense of who counted as...

    • 7 Los Von Rom: Religious Conflict and the Quest for a Spiritual Pan-Germany
      (pp. 206-232)

      For integral nationalists who reified the nation above the more prosaic concept of state, the imagined community did not cease to exist at the empireʹs political borders. From the Pan-German perspective, Germans who lived in Upper Austria or in the western parts of Bohemia constituted an extension of a national community of shared language, culture, and destiny. Conversely, irredentist Germans from Tirol to Triest looked to imperial Germany as the locus of their politcal aspirations.¹

      Yet one issue continued to disturb the family romance between German irredentists in Austria-Hungary and their Pan-German patrons in the German empire: religion. If imperial...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 233-240)

    Although unified politically, the German empire of 1871 was a deeply divided state. The divisions within Germany—whether between religious groups or social classes—shaped the way Germans imagined their nation and constructed their national identity. Although we are used to thinking of national identity as a relatively coherent body of ideas, sentiments, and prejudices, this study has argued that national ideas made sense to different groups in society not by a generalized notion of what the nation is but by an appeal to the historical memories and experiences of disparate groups within the nation. As a consequence, cultural divisions...

  12. Sources
    (pp. 241-266)
  13. Index
    (pp. 267-271)