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Church-State conflict in Prussia and other states in germany, in Austria, and in Switzerland (187190). It became known as the Kulturkampf (struggle for civilization) after Rudolf Virchow, an atheist and materialist scientist, thus described it (Jan. 17, 1873) in the Prussian Landtag, where he represented the German Liberal party. The term is misleading because the struggle developed from a complex of causes.

Antecedents. The dispute began in Prussia and had its main center there. This predominantly Protestant territory had been the scene of a major Church-State conflict concerning mixed marriages during the 1830s (see cologne, mixed marriage dispute in). King Frederick William IV (184061) ended this disagreement, and for the duration of his long reign granted considerable freedom to Catholics, permitting the Church to prosper. For nearly three decades after the settlement of the Cologne affair, Prussian Catholics enjoyed a liberty superior to that in most other sections of Germany, although intolerance continued to be the rule in many German principalities under Protestant rulers. State control of religion was common, even in Catholic states such as Bavaria. From about the mid-19th century, however, opposition to the Church in Prussia was on the increase from diverse quarters and for a variety of reasons. Part of it was confessional. Protestant hostility tended to subside until 1850, but became much more pronounced after that because of growing Catholic activity and demands for further liberties. The marked progress of ultramontanism, the increasing influence of the papacy in Germany and elsewhere, and finally the solemn definitions of papal primacy and infallibility at vatican council i (1870) disturbed many Protestants. So did the writings of dÖllinger and others against Luther and the Reformation. The growing practice of recruiting membership in various kinds of societies along sectarian lines further separated Protestants and Catholics. There were unfounded fears of an imminent Catholic offensive.

German liberalism became very hostile to Catholicism. After the revolution in 1848, liberalism in Germany developed along lines more philosophical than political and fell under the influence of hegelianism and its views on the unlimited power of the state. The liberal outlook was materialistic and antiecclesiastical. To speed the process of laicizing society, secularizing education, and eliminating all religious influences from public and private life, the liberals advocated a return to Prussia's former practices of state control over religion. Middle-class financial and industrial interests, strong supporters of liberalism, objected also to the progressive social views of Bp. Wilhelm von ketteler and the center party. The naturalistic liberal view of the world and of man was so diametrically opposed to the Catholic one that the struggle between them could be regarded, in part at least, as a Kulturkampf. The syllabus of errors (1864) served to widen the gulf between liberals and Catholics.

Nationalistic and political factors were also part of the background of the Kulturkampf. In the drive to unify Germany, Catholics favored the inclusion of Austria, whereas Protestants sided with Bismarck in the successful move to eliminate this great Catholic power from united Germany and to make Protestant Prussia the leading state. Germanism was portrayed as the equivalent of Protestantism and Prussianism.

Solidarity among Catholics increased with the mounting offensive against them. Prussian Catholics took the lead in organizing themselves for political, social, and religious purposes. The formation of the Center party in 1870 was the best-known manifestation of this trend. One of its effects, however, was to stimulate the opposition.

Otto von Bismarck was the person most responsible for inaugurating the Kulturkampf. His motives were both religious and political. He misunderstood and disliked Catholicism as a religion, and a number of political considerations reinforced his opposition. Catholics were the chief opponents to his plans for uniting Germany, but excluding Austria. During the Franco-Prussian War some Catholics in southern Germany sympathized openly with France. In Alsace-Lorraine many of the Catholic clergy opposed incorporation into the new German Empire. Catholic nostalgia for a "Great Germany" did not disappear in 1870. Catholics throughout Germany showed themselves wary of a Protestant emperor. Bavarians voiced suspicions that unification under the Hohenzollerns aimed to convert all Germans into Prussians and Lutherans.

Bismarck's suspicions about Catholic patriotism increased when the clergy in Silesia advocated the use of the Polish language in confessional schools and resisted Germanization. Bismarck wanted a centralized state, but Catholics inclined toward a federated one. Their particularist views were understandable because Catholics were a minority group in the Empire as a whole, but they won political support among Protestants in Hanover and elsewhere. The Center party was sufficiently powerful to challenge the chancellor's dominance. The Catholic Church, Bismarck thought, should be subject to state control, like other religious groups. In his foreign policy Bismarck believed it advantageous to ally himself with the new Kingdom of Italy. The Center party, however, pressed for intervention in the roman question to bring about the restoration of the states of the church. Bismarck condemned this policy as preferring the welfare of the pope to that of the fatherland. He denounced the Center as a state within a state and as a gathering of enemies of the Empire. The chancellor tried to destroy the Center by having the Holy See disavow the party, and when this attempt failed, he resorted to open conflict with Catholics. In doing so he had the support of the liberals and of many Protestants.

The Conflict. The Kulturkampf began with the abolition of the Catholic bureau in the Prussian ministry of education and public worship (July 8, 1871).

Prussia. The government began to support the old catholics in their conflicts with the hierarchy. In August, Bismarck ordered normal schools and school inspection in Alsace-Lorraine removed from the control of the Catholic clergy and placed under lay supervision. The Pulpit Law (Kanzelparagraph ) was enacted (Nov. 28, 1871) by the Reichstag, placing severe penalties on criticisms of the state from the pulpit. Tension increased when Pius IX refused to accept Cardinal Gustav Hohenlohe as the first ambassador of the Empire to the Holy See. This rebuff led Bismarck to remark (May 15, 1872): "We shall not go to Canossa."

Upon the proposal of Adalbert Falk, Prussian minister of education and public worship, a law was passed (March 1872) in the Prussian Landtag that subjected all schools to state inspection. Bismarck sought primarily to terminate anti-German activities by priests in Silesia, but the Center party saw this as an opening wedge to secularize education completely, a step the liberals had been advocating. In June all religious were excluded from public education in Prussia, and the Reichstag ordered all Jesuits expelled from the empire within six months (July 4,1872). As a result, more than 500 members of this order went into exile. When Pius IX protested (December 1872), Bismarck severed diplomatic relations with the Vatican. In 1873 the Redemptorists, Vincentians, Holy Ghost Fathers, and Religious of the Sacred Heart fell under the same ban as the Jesuits.

In 1873 the Prussian Landtag promulgated a series of laws in Mayhence the name May Laws. They placed priestly training under close government supervision and required seminarians, who must be German nationals, to study three years in a German university and to submit to state examinations in literature, history, and philosophy. Clerical appointments by bishops were subjected to government veto, and restrictions were placed on episcopal powers of excommunication and of discipline, although appeals could be made from episcopal decisions to a newly created civil tribunal.

One effect of these May Laws was to unify Catholics. Prussian bishops refused to cooperate in carrying out this legislation. Priests supported their bishops, even though many of them were fined and imprisoned. The Center party increased greatly its representation in the Landtag and Reichstag. Archbishop Mieczyslaw ledÓchowski was arrested and exiled for opposing the teaching of the catechism in German to Polish children. The archbishop of Cologne and the bishop of Trier were also arrested. A second set of May Laws, in 1874, made recalcitrant bishops and priests liable to deposition and exile. During vacancies caused by their removal, their offices were to be administered in accordance with the Prussian government's directives. Pius IX declared the May Laws null and void (February 1875). An attempt by a Catholic to assassinate Bismarck (July 1874) was utilized by the chancellor to try to discredit the Center party and to justify further measures against Catholics. Civil marriage was made obligatory in Prussia (February 1875), and later in other German states. In April of 1875, the Landtag passed the so-called Bread-basket Law, which permitted the state to suspend all financial grants in dioceses where the law was not obeyed. In May all religious, except those engaged in hospital work, were expelled. In June all Church property was confiscated, and title to it was transferred to lay trustees elected by the parishioners. By 1877 thousands of parishes had lost their pastors, and nine of the twelve Prussian bishops were in exile. Although some bishops were able to administer their dioceses secretly through delegated priests, the disruption of Church life was very serious.

The height of the Kulturkampf came in 1875. Catholic resistance remained firm; yet Ludwig windthorst prevented an extremism in the Center party and in the growing Catholic press that would preclude negotiation and compromise with Bismarck. By 1875 there was no longer likelihood of an alliance of German Catholics with Austria against the empire. Then, too, the coalition of national liberals and conservatives that had supported Bismarck lost its coherence, and the socialists emerged as a new political enemy that Bismarck had to take into account. Emperor William I favored a more moderate policy. Pope Leo XIII (18781903) proved more conciliatory than his predecessor, and the papal nuncio at Munich began conversations to end the strife. Bismarck slowly gave way, but he was reluctant to repeal the May Laws outright, and he insisted upon the Center party's cooperation on certain military issues. Falk was dismissed in 1879, and his successor was given wide discretionary powers to alleviate the May Laws. German Catholics resented the exclusion of Windthorst and other Center leaders from the negotiations in Vienna between Prussia and the Vatican. Restoration of diplomatic relations with the Holy See came in 1882. In 1886 and 1887 the May Laws were modified to the satisfaction of Catholics. Other anti-Catholic measures were repealed in 1890 and 1891, but it was not until 1904 that the section of the law expelling Jesuits was rescinded, and not until 1917 was the anti-Jesuit legislation completely abrogated.

Elsewhere in Germany. Some other German states followed Prussia's example. Baden, which had introduced restrictions on Catholics in the 1860s, enacted laws similar to Prussia's concerning clerical education and appointments. It required all primary schools to operate as interdenominational ones (Simultanschule ) and assisted the Old Catholics. Although Baden did not copy Prussia's severity in enforcing these laws, the Archdiocese of Freiburg remained vacant from 1868 to 1881. Hessen-Darmstadt introduced interdenominational schools, but the other measures patterned on Prussia's were not strictly enforced. Baden and Hessen-Darmstadt repealed their Kulturkampf laws between 1880 and 1886. In Catholic bavaria, Johann von Lutz, the liberal minister of education (later premier), started the Kulturkampf in close cooperation with Bismarck. Bavaria aided the Old Catholics, established Simultanschule, and until 1890 reverted to the type of state control of the Church (Staatskirchentum) prevalent in the 18th century.

Austria. A Kulturkampf began in Austria before 1870. In 1868 the liberals under Prime Minister Count Franz von Beust transferred marriage jurisdiction to civil courts, secularized the administration of public schools, and undermined the public position of the Church. In 1870 the government used the definition of papal infallibility as a pretext to abrogate the concordat of 1855. The liberals also cultivated the Old Catholics and impeded the Jesuits. In 1874 a set of May Laws passed the Austrian parliament that seriously affected the Church's legal position, restricted the rights of religious orders, placed Church funds under State supervision, and imposed upon bishops the obligation of notifying the state concerning ecclesiastical appointments. Pius IX sharply condemned the legislation, and Cardinal Joseph von rauscher, Bp. Joseph Fessler, and Bp. Franz von rudigier offered resistance. Since the enforcement of these measures was not severe, the Austrian bishops were divided, and a serious Church-State conflict was averted. When the liberal parties lost their influence (1879), much of the damage to the Church was soon undone.

Switzerland. In Switzerland, Catholics were in a difficult situation after the military defeat of the Sonderbund in 1847. The Jesuits were subsequently banned and monasteries were closed. The Syllabus of Errors and the definition of papal infallibility incensed Protestants and led them to enter a bitter onslaught against the Church. Old Catholics received government protection and were allowed to form the Christian Catholic Church (1875); in Protestant cantons they were given many Catholic churches for their use. In Basel, Bp. Eugène lachat was expelled for proceeding against priests who refused to accept the decrees of Vatican Council I. In Bernese Jura, where protest was strongest against the expulsion, priests faithful to their bishop were forced from their parishes and replaced by Old Catholic priests. At Geneva, Bp. Gaspard mermillod was similarly deposed and expelled (1873) for attempting to establish an episcopal see in the city. In 1874 the federal constitution was revised to prohibit the establishment of new dioceses or monasteries without the federal government's consent. Jesuits and other religious orders were expelled from the entire country. The papal nuncio was asked to leave (1874), and diplomatic relations with the Holy See were severed until 1884. Civil marriage became obligatory; and schools, interdenominational. One effect of this repression was to draw Swiss Catholics closer together. Leo XIII began negotiations, seeking a settlement, and in 1883 Mermillod was able to return. Religious peace gradually returned.

Conclusion. The Kulturkampf caused much suffering for the Church, but it was not a success. Moral victory lay with the Catholics, who emerged more closely united and much more attached to Rome. Unfortunately, Catholics tended to develop the ghetto mentality of an oppressed minority and to remain aloof from the higher cultural life. For the state, the Kulturkampf had the bad effect of estranging millions of Catholic citizens for some decades.

Bibliography: a. constabel, Die Vorgeschichte des Kulturkampfes: Quellenveröffentlichung aus dem deutschen Zentralarchiv (Berlin 1956). g. goyau, Bismarck et l'Église: Le Kulturkampf, 4 v. (Paris 191113). j. b. kissling, Geschichte des Kulturkampfes im Deutschen Reiche, 3 v. (Freiburg 191116). g. franz, Kulturkampf: Staat und katholische Kirche in Mitteleuropa von der Säkularisation bis zum Abschluss des preussischen Kulturkampfes (Munich 1954). e. schmidt-volkmar, Der Kulturkampf in Deutschland, 187190 (Göttingen 1962), reviewed by j. k. zeender, Washington Catholic Historical Review 50 (1965) 601602. p. sattler, "Bismarcks Entschluss zum Kulturkampf," Forschungen zur brandenburgischen und preussischen Geschichte 52 (1940) 66101. r. morsey, "Bismarck und der Kulturkampf," Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 39 (1957) 232270. e. weinzierl-fischer, "Bismarcks Haltung zum Vatikanum und der Beginn des Kulturkampfes," Mitteilung des österreichischen Staatsarchivs 10 (1957) 302321. r. aubert, Le Pontificat de Pie IX (Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours 21; 2d ed. Paris 1964). h. bornkamm, "Die Staatsidee im Kulturkampf," Historische Zeitschrift 170 (1950) 4172, 273306, also sep. pub. (Munich 1950). e. jestaedt, Der Kulturkampf im Fuldaer Land (Fulda 1960). g. g. windell, The Catholics and German Unity, 186671 (Minneapolis 1954). k. s. pinson, Modern Germany: Its History and Civilization (New York 1954) ch.9. e. eyck, Bismarck and the German Empire (London 1950). f. a. arlinghaus, "The Kulturkampf and European Diplomacy," Washington Catholic Historical Review 28 (1943) 340375; "British Public Opinion and the Kulturkampf in Germany 187175," ibid. 34 (1949) 385413. m. o. kolbeck, American Opinion on the Kulturkampf (Washington 1942). l. p. wallace, The Papacy and European Diplomacy 186978 (Chapel Hill, N.C. 1948). f. engel-janosi, Österreich und der Vatikan, 18461918, 2 v. (Graz 195860) v.1. j. wodka, Kirche in Österreich (Vienna 1959). k. eder, Der Liberalismus in Altösterreich (Vienna-Munich 1955). t. schwegler, Geschichte der Katholischen Kirche in der Schweiz (2d ed. Stans 1943). f. strobel, Die Jesuiten und die Schweiz im 19. Jahrhundert (Olten 1954). a. lindt, Protestanten, Katholiken, Kulturkampf (Zurich 1963), for the Kulturkampf in Switzerland. e. dancourt, Scènes et récits du Kulturkampf dans le Canton de Berne (St. Maruice 1921). r. w. lougee, "The Kulturkampf and Historical Postivism," Church History 23 (1954) 219235. h. raab, Staatslexikon, ed. gÖrres-gesellschaft (Freiburg 195763) 5:181185. k. kupisch, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 4:109115. n. miko, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 6:673675.

[h. w. l. freudenthal]

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restrictions and controls
catholic resistance
liquidating the kulturkampf
aftermath and legacy

The Kulturkampf, or "struggle for civilization," was an episode of firstrate importance in modern German history in which Otto von Bismarck (Germany's chancellor and Prussia's minister-president; 1815–1898) and his political allies attempted to weaken the German Catholic church's ties to the papacy, to bring that church under stricter state control, and to forge a common culture across Germany's confessional divide. Fought chiefly in the Hohenzollern kingdom of Prussia and to a lesser extent in Germany as a whole, the Kulturkampf began in 1871, escalated sharply until 1878, and then gradually wound down until its end in 1887. This dispute took its grandiloquent name following a speech in January 1873 in which Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902), a prominent scientist and liberal politician, described the intensifying church–state disagreement as nothing less than a monumental struggle between two competing cultural viewpoints. The term embodied all the confidence, optimism, and belief in progress so characteristic of liberal thinking during the 1860s and 1870s.

The Kulturkampf owed its origins to complex elements and motives, including the existence of a post-Reformation religious, regional, and cultural divide that separated Germany's Catholic and Protestant worlds. Even with national unification in 1870–1871, Germany's confessional division meant that a profound religious rift ran straight through the empire, a rift that shaped and molded the way in which Germans imagined their nation and attempted to construct a national identity. More immediate causes for the Kulturkampf ranged from widespread dismay regarding papal denunciations of progress, liberalism, and modern culture vehemently expressed by the Syllabus of Errors in 1864 to the sweeping claims of papal infallibility promulgated by the Vatican Council in 1870, and from the fears and frustrations among Germany's Liberals regarding a post-1848 Catholic religious revival to the challenge a rejuvenated Catholicism represented to liberal claims of cultural, social, political, and economic superiority. Without the encouragement and aid of these Liberals, other interest groups, and constituencies, which in turn were energized and emboldened by Bismarck's endorsement of their cause, it is difficult to see how the Kulturkampf could have descended to the levels of loathing it did, dividing the country into two mutually uncompromising universes. But the Kulturkampf 's beginnings also owed much to Bismarck's fears regarding Polish political unrest and unfavorable demographic shifts that threatened German control in Prussia's eastern districts, his desire to exploit the schism caused by the new doctrine of infallibility within the Roman church and spearheaded by the so-called Old Catholic sect, and his alarm at the reappearance of a Catholic political movement—the Center Party—in 1870–1871 that stood against Germany's new political arrangements. His principle aims in the Kulturkampf, therefore, were to limit the scope of the damage that might be caused by the infallibility dogma and to consolidate German unity against both Catholics and Poles, who, he repeatedly said, pursued religious objectives and ethnic goals to the detriment of the newly fashioned German Reich.

restrictions and controls

Although Pope Pius IX (r. 1846–1878) and others portrayed the plight of the church and its adherents as a massive persecution not unlike that of ancient Rome, the Kulturkampf 's regulations avoided a direct confrontation with religious belief per se, emphasizing instead specific limitations and controls on its practice. To this end, Bismarck's government in 1871 abolished the "Catholic department" in Prussia's Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and prohibited all expression of political opinion from the pulpit. Additional legislation in 1872 eliminated ecclesiastical influence in curricular matters and the supervision of schools, prohibited members of religious orders from teaching in the public educational system, and expelled the Jesuit order from German territory. To undercut papal authority, the Prussian government in that same year also severed diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The so-called May Laws, adopted by Parliament in 1873, placed the training and appointment of clergy in Prussia under state supervision or jurisdiction. Still another statute adopted in 1874 permitted the government to intern, strip of citizenship, and/or deport clergy found in noncompliance with the May Laws of the previous year. The Prussian government also introduced compulsory civil marriage in 1874, a step extended to the entire Reich a year later. Legislation accepted in 1875 abolished religious orders and congregations (with the exception of those involved in nursing the sick), terminated state subsidies to the Catholic Church, deleted religious guarantees from the Prussian constitution, and permitted Old Catholics to share church property and endowments with their former coreligionists. In 1874 and 1875, furthermore, Prussian authorities pushed through statutes permitting state agents to take charge of bishoprics where the incumbent was in prison or exile and allowed laymen to assume administrative responsibilities at the parish level. Each of these statutes represented not the next item in a preconceived or comprehensive repressive agenda, but a necessary step to cope with developments that were neither coherently planned nor accurately foreseen.

As a consequence of the Kulturkampf 's legislation, the Roman Church paid a heavy price in terms of decimated clergy, alienated revenues, and widespread hardship for the laity. Bishops, the parochial clergy, and the members of monastic houses paid the heaviest toll. More than half of Prussia's episcopate went into exile or prison, nearly a quarter of all parish priests lost their pastoral appointments, and a third or more of all religious orders suffered the loss of home and function. Before the Kulturkampf came to an end, the church as an institution lost fifteen to sixteen million marks in state subsidies.

Ordinary Catholics also suffered grievously. Thousands found themselves without spiritual ministration, and for that reason regularity of sacramental observance became increasingly difficult. Others were jailed or fined for participating in demonstrations in support of their church leaders. Still others were the casualties of slander and malice or simply felt the strain of isolation. A purge of the state bureaucracy cost dozens of Catholic civil servants their careers and livelihoods. The Kulturkampf also subjected the confessional press and its representatives to stricter controls. Police officials harassed, intimidated, censored, or even fined and imprisoned Catholic editors and journalists to silence the news they reported and the opinions they expressed.

catholic resistance

Despite the ordeal to which they were subjected, Catholics continued to resist the Kulturkampf 's new church regulations and to disobey the measures designed to intimidate them. The most important forums for the expression of that resistance were the Reichstag and the Prussian Parliament, in which the Center Party dramatically increased its representation between 1870–1871 and 1874. No Catholic political leader better personified that opposition than Ludwig Windthorst (1812–1891), a superb orator and gifted tactician widely acknowledged by friend and foe alike as Bismarck's most abrasive and formidable parliamentary critic. He organized the Centrist deputies into an obstructionist bloc that kept attention focused on the grievances of their coreligionists.

In addition to the trouble caused by the Center Party and its leader, the government and its supporters also had to contend with widespread and open resistance. This extra parliamentary opposition was expressed through the organization of mass meetings, boycotts, civil disobedience, and petitions, even open defiance and public disturbance on a massive, chaotic scale. Bismarck himself narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in July 1874, and many of his associates received death threats. Imperial Germany, it is said, did not again witness collective action on such a scale until the revolutions that engulfed the country at the end of World War I.

liquidating the kulturkampf

This expanding opposition with its promise of interminable conflict, together with his own inability to find a formula for victory within the boundaries of accepted political action and without changing the size and shape of his government, prompted Bismarck by the late 1870s to normalize relations with the Roman Church. He also found himself increasingly distracted from the Kulturkampf by the rapid growth of the Social Democratic Party and the threat he believed this movement represented to Germany's internal political and social arrangements. But Bismarck's desire to find a modus vivendi with the Roman Church and its German adherents was also prompted by the accession of a more moderate pontiff following the death of the intransigent Pius IX in 1878. Although the Prussian government initiated contacts between Berlin and Rome, early negotiations proved disappointing. Unable to reach an acceptable compromise with Leo XIII (r. 1878–1903), the new pope, Bismarck chose instead unilaterally to ease the Kulturkampf by legislative and administrative action. Major steps in this direction included the Relief Law of 1880, which relaxed key features of the May Laws, permitted parishes with pastors to aid those without, and paved the way for the return of deposed clergy to vacant parishes and episcopal sees. In addition, Berlin restored diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1882. These steps, however, including a visit of the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William (1831–1888) in 1883 to the Roman pontiff, did little to assuage the misgivings of the Center Party and the Roman Curia. What did make the pope more tractable, on the other hand, was Bismarck's request to Leo in 1885 to arbitrate a colonial dispute between Germany and Spain over competing claims to the Caroline Islands and the Palua Island group in Micronesia. This request produced a more favorable climate for direct church–state negotiations, outflanked Windthorst and the obstreperous Center Party, and led to acceptance of the Peace Law of 1886. This accord required the Prussian government to repeal, reduce in severity, or simply allow to fall into disuse much of the Kulturkampf legislation. To this end, Prussian authorities abolished the special examinations in philosophy, history, and German literature demanded of ordinands by the May Laws, recognized the pope's disciplinary power over the clergy, did away with the special tribunal that had acted on appeals against episcopal decisions, and reopened diocesan seminaries. The agreement also called for Prussia to resume financial aid to the church and to permit religious orders and congregations—at the discretion of the government—to reestablish chapter houses and to resume their previous activities.

Although both sides acknowledged the end of the Kulturkampf by mid-1887, not all restrictions and controls disappeared or even fell into disuse. The guarantees of religious freedom, abolished from the Prussian constitution at the height of the Kulturkampf, were not reinstated. Civil marriage was retained, as was state supervision of schools, the right of Prussian subjects to disassociate themselves from formal church affiliation, and the state's power to veto ecclesiastical appointments. The separate department for Catholic affairs in the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs was not revived. Prussia's authority to deprive recalcitrant clergy of their citizenship and to deport them physically was not lifted until 1890. The Jesuit Law, despite a partial repeal in 1904, was not abandoned until 1917. And restrictions against political use of the pulpit remained in force until 1953. While the final settlement brought a close to the Kulturkampf as a formal conflict, it did little or nothing at all to end less-overt forms of discrimination or what Catholics derisively called a "silent" Kulturkampf.

aftermath and legacy

The Kulturkampf left permanent scars, both for the Catholic populace and for Prussian and German society as a whole. Although Catholics suffered grievously during the Kulturkampf, when assessed in terms of its larger purpose—as a means to eradicate Catholicism as a major factor in Germany's political life, to break Catholic opposition to governmental policy, or to consolidate national unity—the Kulturkampf was a conspicuous failure and a disappointment to its proponents. Despite Bismarck's best efforts, the Center Party remained unbroken and even established itself as a potent political force that he could not ignore. Catholic morale did not disintegrate, and Catholics remained a coherent bloc within German society. The Polish-speaking inhabitants of Prussia's eastern provinces also continued to resist demands for conformity. Even the intention to forge national unity across Germany's religious divide only served to create more dissension because the Kulturkampf left Germany more divided than ever, divided by suspicion, fear, and mutual misunderstanding. As the defining experience of their lives, the Kulturkampf entered deeply into the collective memory of countless Catholics and influenced the attitudes and behavior of their community well into the twentieth century.

It is good to remember, of course, that the Prussian Kulturkampf as a "culture war" did not stand alone. Similar conflicts, less well known and on a smaller scale, occurred elsewhere in Europe and even in Germany itself. Following Europe's mid-century revolutions, Catholic areas witnessed a vigorous religious renewal. Fashioned and dominated by the clergy and sustained within an institutional framework of new associations and organizations, this revival introduced a new, popular morality encouraged by missions, revival meetings, pilgrimages, and other forms of religious expression and practice. This reshaped Catholicism, like the secular, liberal, and anticlerical political culture with which it often collided, was a transnational phenomenon. It is not surprising, therefore, that from the mid- to later nineteenth century lesser German states such as Baden or Hesse-Darmstadt, or Switzerland, France, Belgium, and countries elsewhere in Europe experienced cultural clashes similar to Prussia's Kulturkampf.

See alsoBismarck, Otto von; Catholicism; Catholicism, Political; Center Party; Germany; Liberalism; Pius IX; Prussia; Windthorst, Ludwig.


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Ronald J. Ross

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Kulturkampf (kŏŏltōōr´kämpf´) [Ger.,=conflict of cultures], the conflict between the German government under Bismarck and the Roman Catholic Church. The promulgation (1870) of the dogma of the infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals within the church sparked the conflict; it implied that the pope was the defender of the church against incursions by states. The German bishops and most lay Catholics supported this dogma. Bismarck, who was anxious to strengthen the central power of the new German Empire, feared the strongly organized church, which found its political voice in the Catholic Center party (organized 1870). The Center party received additional support from particularists in Bavaria and from other disaffected minorities such as the suppressed Poles in Prussia and the Guelph party of Hanover, which refused to recognize Hanover's annexation (1866) by Prussia. In his opposition to the church, Bismarck found himself in alliance with the liberals, the traditional opponents of the church. The struggle was initiated by the abolition (July, 1871) of the Catholic department in the Prussian ministry of culture. Feelings grew stronger when Bismarck gave support to the small group of churchmen led by Döllinger who refused to accept the dogma of papal infallibility. In 1872, Bismarck gave the state direct control of the schools in Prussia and obtained the expulsion of the Jesuits, first from Prussia and then from Germany as a whole. The May Laws (of May, 1873) restricted the disciplinary powers of the church, placed the education of the clergy under state supervision, and provided for the punishment of those who refused to cooperate. Next, civil ceremonies became obligatory for marriages in Germany. The church resisted these laws, and many clerics were imprisoned or removed from office for their refusal to comply. Meanwhile, the Center party increased its strength significantly. After its large gains in the Reichstag elections of 1878, Bismarck began to moderate his policy, influenced also by the alienation of the liberals through his protective tariff policies. The death of Pope Pius IX (1878) aided the gradual resolution of the conflict. Many of the antichurch laws were repealed or fell into disuse. In 1887 a modus vivendi was reached with Pope Leo XIII. In evaluating the Kulturkampf in Germany it is important to remember that the church was at odds with a number of European states during this period.

See L. P. Walace, The Papacy and European Diplomacy, 1869–1878 (1948); see also bibliography under Bismarck, Otto von.

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