Explain Why Bismarck Carried Out Kulturkampf in the 1870s.

Topics: Otto von Bismarck, German Empire, Prussia Pages: 2 (560 words) Published: November 13, 2011
The German word Kulturkampf refers to the struggle between Otto Von Bismarck -chancellor of the newly formed German and the man in charge of German Unification – and the Catholic Church. Kulturkampf was in introduced by the newly elected chancellor Bismarck in 1871 as a targeted attack towards the Catholic’s political influence in the newly unified Germany. The German Empire was proclaimed in 1871 after the defeat of the French in the Franco-Prussian war, naming the king and prime minister of Prussia, Wilhelm 1st and Otto Von Bismarck, the Kaiser of Germany and the German chancellor. As soon as Bismarck was in power, he began the Kulturkampf. Prussia had expanded greatly in previous years and by 1871, Prussian population included 16,000,000 Protestants and 8,000,000 Catholics (1/3 of Prussian population). This meant that the Catholic Church had a massive amount of influence within German politics as the majority of the southern states were dominated by Catholics. The division between the two religions was clearly visible as well, with Catholics and Protestants living in their own separate districts of Prussia. It was seen that Protestants were the main supporters of Bismarck and his policies, as Protestants were seen as having a higher social status and Catholics were seen as unskilled workers and peasants. However, in 1870 the Centre Party (or Z Party as they were in the middle of left wing and right wing politics) was formed to defend the interests of the Catholic Church in Germany. Although the supported Bismarck’s policies in general, Bismarck distrusted the Centre Party as he didn’t like the idea of Catholic influence in German politics. This wasn’t helped the Vatican Council issuing the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility in 1870. The doctrine stated that the pope (currently Pope Pius 9th and Bismarck’s “arch nemesis” during his enforcement of the Kulturkampf) was correct in all doctrinal matters and could never be challenged. This doctrine however, led to...
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