German-Catholic Clergy and German Nationalism

This year, Harvard University Press will publish Fighting for the Soul of Germany: The Catholic Struggle for Inclusion after Unification, by Rebecca Ayako Bennette, Assistant Professor of History at Middlebury College.  Contrary to historical assumptions, Bennette argues that—from the moment of German unification in 1871—clergy in the German-Catholic Church actively preached German national identity.  Bennette’s book dovetails with several works from the last few years detailing German-Catholic clergy’s engagement with German nationalism, even when engagement meant collaboration with the emerging Nazi party.  For example, in Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism: Religious Identity and National Socialism (OUP, 2009), Derek Hastings—associate professor of History at Oakland University—details Catholic clergymen’s ties with the Nazi movement in 1920’s Munich.  Likewise, in Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism (Northern Illinois University Press, 2008), Fr. Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College, reveals the history of the “brown priests.”  Brown priests were Catholic clergy who, in part from an effort to rebuild German national identity after Germany’s humiliating defeat in the First World War, directly allied themselves with the Nazi party to disseminate its nationalist propaganda.  For the publisher’s description of Professor Bennette’s work, please follow the jump.  For a description of Professor Hastings’ and Father Spicer’s works, please follow the links above. Read more