Negotiating identities : South German Catholics and the formation of national identity, 1871-1914
Hiort, Pontus A.
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The following study investigates how Catholics in the southwestern German state of Baden reacted to German unification in 1871. Although Baden had a Catholic majority, during the Second Empire the state was governed by Protestant liberals, who often discriminated against the state’s Catholics. To understand how Badenese Catholics participated in the nation-building project from 1871 to 1914, this work analyzes Catholic reactions to the commemorative discourse that surrounded unification. This discourse was often tinged with anti-Catholic sentiments that alleged that Catholics had been opposed to the unification and that they harbored stronger loyalties to the Pope in Rome than they did to the German Emperor in Berlin. Despite being politically and economically disadvantaged, Badenese Catholics successfully contested this ideological message and instead created an alternative discourse that better represented their own version of Germanness. My analysis illustrates that these Catholics subscribed to a multifaceted version of German identity. Instead of being subsumed into a Protestantdominated national identity, they were able to maintain certain pre-1871 elements of their identity, which included loyalties to the Pope, Baden, their fellow Germans in Catholic A ustria, as w ell as E m peror W ilhelm I. This study also displays how central confessional elements were to the construction of German national identity during the Second Empire. Religious affiliation to a large extent determined how Germans lived their lives, and confessional loyalties became one of the key components in the new German national identity. Moreover, this work also demonstrates that Catholic and Protestant integration into the new German nation-state should be viewed as an ongoing debate about what constituted German. Although during the last two decades before the First World War, Catholics and Protestants did not clash as frequently over the definition of Germanness as they had during the first two decades of the Kaiserreich, they never completely agreed on the exact nature of their national identity. Thus, despite facing numerous political, economic, and social obstacles, Badenese Catholics were able to manifest successfully their own version of German identity throughout the Second German Empire.