Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Grenzen Des Katholischen Milieus. Stabilität Und Gefährdung Katholischer Milieus in der Endphase der Weimarer Republik Und der NS-Zeit

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Grenzen Des Katholischen Milieus. Stabilität Und Gefährdung Katholischer Milieus in der Endphase der Weimarer Republik Und der NS-Zeit

Article excerpt

Grenzen des katholischen Milieus. Stabilität und Gefährdung katholischer Milieus in der Endphase der Weimarer Republik und der NS-Zeit. Edited by Joachim Kuropka. (Münster: Aschendorff Verlag. 2013. Pp. 552. euro39,00. ISBN 978-3-40213005-6.)

The relationship between Catholicism and Nazism has created firestorms of controversy in recent decades. Especially in Germany, endless volumes on the subject pour from the press, rehashing now-familiar arguments over Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Ludwig Kaas, Cesare Orsenigo, Franz von Papen, and other major figures in Catholic-Nazi relations. Perhaps because the issue is so politically charged, investigations into Catholic-Nazi relations have, in some ways, not kept up with broader trends in the study of German history. This magisterial collection, The Borders of the Catholic Milieu, seeks to rectify this by integrating Catholic history with the recent turn to the "region" in German studies.

The master concept of this collection is the "milieu," an influential theory of German history drawn from the work of M. Rainer Lepsius. According to Lepsius, Germany in the decades around 1900 had not been one nation, but rather four basically distinct milieus: Catholic, socialist, liberal Protestant, and conservative Protestant. Although many scholars have cast doubt on the impermeability of these cultural-political blocs, the model is still widely assumed even if it is unnamed. This collection nuances the "milieu" concept by integrating Lepsius with the "regionalist" tum in German history, associated in this country with David Blackboum and Celia Applegate. As Joachim Kuropka suggests in his opening essay, the concept of the milieu is indispensable to understanding German Catholicism. Nonetheless, as Kuropka and Winfried Becker point out, the "milieu" was not national but regional: Catholicism in the Rhineland looked very different from Catholicism in Bavaria. What is more, the stability of the milieu differed dramatically across the country, as some regions were already dealing with significant religious diversity in the 1920s.

Already, this approach rectifies a major problem in studies of Catholic Germany; far too often, it is treated as some sort of monolithic whole, when in fact there were enormous differences across the Reich. …

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