Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945–1980
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Paperback / softback
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Number of Pages: 410
Width: 23 cm
Height: 15.5 cm
Were Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church in Germany unduly singled out after 1945 for their conduct during the National Socialist era? Mark Edward Ruff explores the bitter controversies that broke out in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945 to 1980 over the Catholic Church's relationship to the Nazis. He explores why these cultural wars consumed such energy, dominated headlines, triggered lawsuits and required the intervention of foreign ministries. He argues that the controversies over the church's relationship to National Socialism were frequently surrogates for conflicts over how the church was to position itself in modern society - in politics, international relations and the media. More often than not, these exchanges centered on problems perceived as arising from the postwar political ascendancy of Roman Catholics and the integration of Catholic citizens into the societal mainstream.
'This is a timely and fascinating account of how, under pressure from Pius XII, the Catholic Church in Germany propagated a narrative of Catholic martyrdom in the Third Reich, and in so doing ignited a controversy over the Catholic role in Nazi Germany that lasted for more than three decades and in which both the Church's defenders and detractors distorted its actual record in the Third Reich for reasons of state and ideology. Armed with an impressive mastery of both the primary sources and the enormous volume of often contentious secondary literature this conflict engendered, Ruff reviews the way in which the Church's efforts to whitewash its Nazi past provoked a vigorous counterattack from Social Democrats and liberals. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Ruff's work is the objectivity and empathy with which he reconstructs a conflict that excited the passions of those on both sides of the debate and that directly challenged the Church's moral authority in postwar Germany.' Larry Eugene Jones, Canisius College, New York 'In his extraordinary study, Mark Edward Ruff revisits debates about the Catholic past, from the stance of German Catholics in 1933 to the choices of their Pope in wartime. He showcases each controversy in its time (for it very much mattered precisely when each happened), and achieves an exemplary study of the relevance of religion to the making of Europe after World War II.' Samuel Moyn, author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History 'Ruff has produced an engaging and masterful account that will be consulted for decades to come.' Noel D. Cary, The Journal of Modern History '... is highly persuasive. As such, the book will have ramifications for historians of modern Germany and Europe, as well as for intellectual historians and historiographers.' Lauren Faulkner Rossi, The American Historical Review 'Future historians beginning work on this subject would do well to consult The Battle for the Catholic Past as both an indispensable guide to the field's historiographical genealogy, and simultaneously an aid for discerning those topics and methodologies neglected by the post-war period's culture wars, and thus required to break new intellectual ground.' Thomas Brodie, European History Quarterly