Catholic Politics in Europe, 1918-1945 (Historical by Martin Conway

By Martin Conway

The heritage of Catholic political hobbies has lengthy been a lacking measurement of the heritage of Europe throughout the 20th century. Martin Conway explores the attention-grabbing background of Catholic political routine in Europe among 1918 and 1945, demonstrating the an important function which Catholics performed within the upward thrust of fascism in Italy and Germany, the occasions of the Spanish Civil conflict and of the second one global warfare. Drawing at the findings of contemporary learn, Conway indicates how Catholic political hobbies shaped an essential component of the political lifetime of Europe throughout the inter-war years. In international locations as different as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Austria, in addition to additional east in Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, and Lithuania, Catholic political events flourished. encouraged via the values of Catholicism, those activities fought for his or her personal political beliefs; antagonistic to either liberal democracy and totalitarian fascism, Catholics have been a 'third strength' in ecu politics. throughout the moment international struggle, Catholic political hobbies endured to pursue their very own pursuits; a few selected to struggle along the German armies, different teams joined Resistance hobbies to struggle opposed to German oppression and for a brand new social and political order in line with Catholic rules. Catholic Politics in Europe will offer an unique key element of reference for 20th century historical past, for comparability with fascist and communist events of the interval, and may provide perception into the present-day personality of Catholicism.

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This choice between democracy and authoritarianism was also faced by those Catholic parties that had come to prominence before 1914 but which, after the First World War, were confronted by a very different political situation. In Belgium, the introduction of universal manhood suffrage in 1918 destroyed almost at a stroke the Catholic Party’s long-standing monopoly over government. Although it emerged as the largest single party in the elections of 1919, it was henceforth obliged to share power with its Liberal and Socialist rivals and throughout the 1920s the party remained bitterly divided between its largely Flemish Christian democrat elements and the anti-democratic attitudes of sections of the francophone bourgeoisie.

This remarkable achievement demonstrated well the determination of many German Catholics to retain their political autonomy but it proved to be only a temporary obstacle to Hitler’s ambitions. Despite ample evidence of the determination of the Nazis to monopolise power in their own hands and to dismantle all other political organisations, the newly elected Centre Party deputies in the Reichstag voted on 23 March for the Enabling Law which granted Hitler extensive powers to circumvent parliament.

Certainly some intellectuals, such as those associated with the newspaper L’Aube (Dawn) in France in the 1930s, advocated ideas that pre-figured the Christian democrat ideology of the post-1945 era; but they remained a small minority. Most Catholic working-class groups did not favour such ideas. Instead, they saw themselves as the representatives of the confessional interests of Catholicism within the working class and, though often willing to collaborate with Socialist and other non-Catholic groups to achieve specific goals, they remained convinced that only the establishment of a society based on Catholic principles offered a durable solution to the sufferings of the working class.

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