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The 'Conservative Revolutionaries': The Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany after Radical Political Change in the 1990s
Volume 14

Monographs in German History

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The 'Conservative Revolutionaries'

The Protestant and Catholic Churches in Germany after Radical Political Change in the 1990s

Barbara Thériault

200 pages, 10 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-667-2 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2004)

eISBN 978-1-78238-794-7 eBook

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“…an intelligent and generally insightful analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing Protest and Catholic churches following the collapse of the German Democratic Republic…this book is unquestionably a valuable addition to the literature on religion and society in modern Germany.”  · German Quarterly

“…a compelling understanding of both the institutional and cultural issues involved with unification…Perhaps the most interesting finding of this work is the extent ot which the religious orientation of the SED state, that is separation between church and state, lives onin the institution that was most vocally opposed to the state – the Protestant Church.”  · German Studies Review


During the forty years of division, the Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany were the only organizations to retain strong ties and organizational structures: they embodied continuity in a country marked by discontinuity. As such, the churches were both expected to undergo smooth and rapid institutional consolidation and undertake an active role in the public realm of the new eastern German states in the 1990s. Yet critical voices were heard over the West German system of church-state relations and the public role it confers on religious organizations, and critics often expressed the idea that despite all their difficulties, something precious was lost in the collapse of the German democratic republic. Against this backdrop, the author delineates the conflicting conceptions of the Protestant and Catholic churches' public role and pays special attention to the East German model, or what is generally termed the "positive experiences of the GDR and the Wende."

Barbara Theriault is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Montreal. She was previously postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Center for German and European Studies (University of Montreal) and Kollegiat at the Max-Weber-Kolleg für Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften at the University of Erfurt.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Germany