Religious conflicts and German national identity in Prussia, 1866–1914
The social reality of Prussia reveals a more heterogeneous state than the stereotypical idea of Prussia. Its cultural landscape was marked less by unity than by confessional division and distrust. The Prussian state’s assault on the Catholic Church during the Kulturkampf in the 1870s was a critical juncture in the history of Prusso-Germany. This conflict politicized the division between the two religious communities and cemented confessional antagonism in political life. Middle-class, Protestant liberals organized in the German National Association and German Protestant Association were advocates of constitutional freedom and unity in a smaller German national state that would be established under Prussia’s Protestant monarchy and would be exclusive of Catholic Austria. The Kulturkampf legislation was intended to enhance the authority of the state over church affairs and to reduce the influence of the Catholic clergy in public life.