Germany's Catholic fraternities and the Weimar Republic
This project examines the relationship of Catholic fraternities to the politics and culture of the Weimar Republic (1918-1933). Through the last century, Catholic fraternity alumni have served as German chancellors, presidents, federal ministers, state executives, and leading voices in Germany's parliament. They have more broadly played leading roles in the Catholic press, in Catholic youth groups, in Catholic civic associations, and in the German Catholic hierarchy (including as archbishops and bishops). After World War II, Catholic fraternity alumni played founding roles in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), the two parties that led West Germany's transition from its catastrophic defeat ("zero hour") to the economic miracle (1949-1969). This project considers the ideas that many of these Catholic leaders encountered as college students or as active alumni in their fraternities in the 15 years before Hitler came to power. The narrative begins by situating the fraternities in Germany's "Catholic Milieu" during and after the Imperial period (1871-1914) (Chapter 1). Three national Catholic fraternal organizations emerged on Germany's campuses at this time so that Catholics would have the opportunity to: bond socially and intellectually with other Catholics, remain loyal to their Church and their faith, and combat the profound discrimination and harassment they had experienced on Germany's campuses. The hostility articulated by nationalist students on German campuses towards their Catholic cohorts was part of the broader confessional antagonism that characterized German politics, society and economy at this time. This project focuses primarily on the dilemmas that Catholic fraternity members faced after World War I, including: constructing memories of their wartime experiences, and how these memories informed their understanding of Catholic confessional identity and German patriotism (Chapter 2); their attitudes towards German democracy and parliamentary institutions, using contemporary Catholic theology as a guide (Chapter 3); their willingness to remain loyal to the traditional political representatives of Catholicism (specifically, the Catholic Center Party) (Chapter 4); their attitude towards Marxism, Socialism and Communism (Chapter 5); their construction of German nationalism (Chapter 6); and their confrontation with National Socialism (Chapter 7).
- History