Bismarck's Domestic Policy Assessment Essay

2861 words - 11 pages

Bismarck's Domestic Policy Assessment

The Kulturkampf was a domestic struggle between the Catholic Church
and Otto Von Bismarck and his allies at the time, the German Liberals.
Bismarck was the first German chancellor from 1871 to 1890. During his
time as chancellor he shaped Germany into the state it was before the
First World War, bringing about a number of reforms to further the
Germany he envisioned. One of the main conflicts Bismarck encountered
was with the Catholic Church. The problem of dual loyalty with Germany
and papal infallibility, and the threat the well organised Church was
to Bismarck, resulted in political war. Bismarck aimed: "to subdue all
people, Protestants and Catholics alike, to the triumphant power of
the State." This was the Kulturkampf, 'culture battle'.

(b) Explain why Bismarck considered the Catholics and Socialists to be

"Reichsfeinde" - enemies of the state, were one of Bismarck's main
miscalculations during his time as chancellor. Bismarck saw the
Catholics, Socialists and ethnic minorities as a danger to the state
of Germany he had created. Bismarck also used his 'Reichsfeinde' as a
mask across the true face of Germany, hiding the people from reality
as they became increasingly involved with his political crusades.

In Bismarck's fight against the Catholic Church he sided with the
German Liberals, their natural enemies within Germany. However,
Bismarck and the German Liberals saw the danger of Catholicism from
different angles.

In 1870 the Vatican Council adopted the doctrine of papal
infallibility, which is the complete correctness in all that the pope
says or does in relation to moral issues. Bismarck feared the Church
would soon go one step further in declaring the pope infallible on all
matters, setting up a foundation for another Holy Roman Empire. These
proclamations worried Bismarck, but his need of the Catholic southern
Germany in the war with France made him act only after the war. One of
Bismarck's main concerns was with the growing Catholic vote. After the
end of the Franco-Prussian War the regions of Alsace and Lorraine were
acquired, this resulted in a very large Catholic population within
Germany, approximately one-third of the population; the establishment
of the Catholic Centre Party was a consequence of this. They became
the second strongest party in the Reich. Bismarck was opposed to this
party and particularly their leader, Ludwig Windthorst. Bismarck
objected to the party as it seemed to him to stand for allegiance to
an authority other than the national state, a dual loyalty between
Catholicism and Germany. It threatened his ideal of a unified Germany.
This belief was enforced when the new party won 58 seats in the lower
house of the Reichstag, the new imperial parliament. Bismarck believed

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