October 1997 Newsletter
Association of Contemporary Church Historians
(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)
John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia
Newsletter- October 1997- Vol.III, no.10
1) Conference announcement – ASCH-Seattle – Jan. ’98
2) Book reviews:
a)Festschrift for John Moses.
b)Baumann, Protestantismus und Frauenemanzipation (Germany)
c) Davis, A Long Walk to Church (Russia)
d) Sells, A Bridge Betrayed (Bosnia)
To those of you in the northern hemisphere starting a new academic session, my very best wishes. I am most grateful to those who have sent in contributions, which enables this month’s reviews to have a truly ecumenical flavour. You may be interested to hear that, after 34 issues, our membership statistics look like this: USA 63, Germany 23, Canada 39, Australia 5, U.K. 7, Switzerland 2, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, Norway, South Africa, Austria, and Holland 1 each. New members are always welcome.
1) The next meeting of the American Society of Church History will be held in Seattle from January 8th-11th. Of particular interest to our members will be two sessions on Protestant Responses to Political Change in Germany 1933-1990, one organised by Brian Huck, Pennsylvania, and one by Matthew Hockenos, New York University. The contact person is Richard Kieckhefer, = email@example.com
2) Book Reviews:
a) Power, Conscience and Opposition. Essays in German History in honour of John A.Moses, ed. A.Bonnell, G.Munro and M.Travers. New York: P.Lang 1996 538pp
John Moses, in whose honour this voluminous Festschrift has been prepared, is one of Australia’s foremost historians, and the contents reflect his wide interests not only in German history, on which he has written extensively on such topics as the foreign policy of the Kaiserreich, trades unionism, the Fischer controversy, and the relations of church and state, but also on German-Australian issues. The 26 essays dedicated to him range therefore widely, but can be grouped into four thematic blocs. The first deals with questions of ideology and power from the Kaiserreich to the Third Reich, the second with democratic opposition in Germany, the third is somewhat opaquely entitled “Rethinking German history”, while the fourth is devoted to German Australian perspectives. A bibliography of Moses’ publications and a tabula gratulatoria conclude the book.
In the first section, Peter Overlak describes the idea of German “mission” as promoted by German academics during the Kaiserrreich and its relation to naval armament in the context of Germany’s Weltpolitik. These predecessors of the “spirit of 1914” exemplified the logic of the ideas of Germany’s elite, and thus in part support Fischer’s view that the first world war was not an accident. Peter Hempenstall’s account of the difficulties of writing the biography of Wilhelm Solf, one of this elite, shows the predicament historians can sometimes find themselves in, when asked by the family to write on “objects” of academic interest. Douglas Newton’s analysis of the disillusionment of some of the Germanists working for British intelligence at the end of the war describes an interesting episode in bureaucratic in-fighting in the wake of the Versailles Peace Conference. The Germanists, in particular Alfred Zimmern, James Headlam-Morley and Edwyn Bevan, all recommended nourishing the new German Republic, and opposed a harsh peace which, in their view, destroyed the hopes of stabilizing the situation. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the British public was not, as Martin Travers suggests, particularly alarmed by Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
The second part analyses democratic oppositional movements in 19th and 20th century Germany, from 1817-48 (Walter Grab) to Wilhelm Leuschner’s resistance activities against Hitler (G.Besier). I found three essays particularly interesting. John Conway describes bourgeois German pacifism during the first world war, which was overwhelmed by the patriotic outburst of the “spirit of 1914”; his essay provides a good contrast to the “dominant” paradigm as described by Overlak. Gregory Munro focusses on the War Guilt question and German Catholicism, with examples from the Allgemeine Rundschau of Munich, which shows that religious cleavages in Germany also affected their interpretation of war guilt. Finally Julian Jenkins’s analysis of the ecumenical movement in the Weimar Republic and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s role in it not only underlines the difficulty of bridging the gap between German nationalism and western liberal ideas, but also helps to explain why the conservative protestant tradition had little problem accepting Hitler as the saviour of the German nation. The third part is somewhat of a mixed bag, including, among others, essays by Wolf Gruner on the French Revolution and German identity, Peter Monteath on concentration camp memorials, Bernd Hoppauf on Ernst Junger as an early example of “forgetting” the Holocaust. and Georg Iggers on common bases of 19th century European historiographical thought. Irmline Veit-Brause’analysis of twists in historicism handed down a more lenient verdict than Iggers, and was most interesting. Less so were two weak papers by Immanuel Geiss and Ulf Sundhausen which were too simplistic, and should have been revised. The final section deals with German-Australian perspectives, covering topics such as the immigration of 1848 intellectuals to Australia (Gerhard Fischer), Australian reactions to the Franco- Prussian war (Alan Corkhill), and Fascism and the second world war (J.S.Klan). I particularly enjoyed Johannes Voigt’s richly documented study of how the transportation of criminals to Australia served as a model for debates in Germany on the same theme. The generally high standard of academic research not only reflects positively on the authors, but even more so on John Moses, who gave the impulse to pursuing many of the themes and perspectives here. We are all grateful to him for his fine initiatives, to which this book is a fitting tribute. Matthias Zimmer, University of Alberta, Edmonton
b) Ursula Baumann, Protestantismus und Frauenemanzipation in Deutschland 1950 bis 1920, Frankfurt: Campus Verlag 1992 383pp
Ursula Baumann opens her book with an observation by Virginia Woolf. It may be, Woolf postulated, that the history of opposition to the emancipation of women is as interesting as the story of that liberation itself.(7) Bauman’s study confrims Woolf’s point. The history of the relationship between Protestantism and women’s movements in Germany from 1850 to 1920 is above all a tale of obstruction and resistance: not only from obstinate theologians and wary husbands and fathers, but from conservative church women eager to distance themselves from what they considered the excesses of the bourgeois, let alone working-class, women’s movements. True to Woolf’s prediction, that story of opposition is both interesting and important; moreover, like women’s history itself, it intersects with every aspect of individual and collective life. In fact, one of Baumann’s most significant achievements is her integration of often disparate subfields of history. Church history, women’s history, political and social history – all come together here. This is a work inspired by Rudolf von Thadden’s call to write ‘Kirchengeschichte als Gesellschaftgeschichte’, informed by Thomas Nipperdey’s synthesis of religion, politics and culture, and committed to gender as a central category of historical analysis. Scholars interested in German conservatism, secularization, and class struggles, as well as those concerned with religious or women’s issues, will find this book a valuable resource.
Bauman’s lucid introductory chapters situate her topic in the context of German respnses to modernization. Industrialization, urbanization, and secularization produced anxiety among Protestant churchmen. Insecure about the future of the church, they saw demands for women’s rights as related threats to ecclesiastical relevance. Women in their own ranks occupied an ambivalent position. As descendants of Eve, they could somehow be blamed for humanity’s fall. But as the most loyal participants in church life, as Christian wives and mothers, they also represented the last, best hope for spiritual rejuvenation. According to Baumann, this two- pronged stereotype – woman as both scapegoat and cure-all for social and ecclesiastical ills – characterized organized Protestantism in Germany until well into this century. Baumann emphasizes the conservatism of Protestant responses to women’s issues. Indeed, her narrative shows a marked, but not inevitable, move to the right within German Protestantism, theologically, socially and politically from the 1840s until after the First World War.
Baumann divides her study into five chronological periods. The first, from about 1830 to 1880, laid the groundwork for subsequent developments; it witnessed both the foundation of a middle-class women’s movement in Germany and the birth of the Diakonissenwesen, which established a tradition of Protestant female charitable work. During phase two, about 1890, a critique of the subordination of women emerged within German Protestantism. Baumann spends most time on the third phase, from the late 1890s to 1912. It saw the founding of the three German women’s organizations that would shape the church’s formal response to women’s causes for the next decades: the Deutsch- Evangelische Frauenbund (DEF), the kirchlich-sozialen Frauengruppen, and the Evangelische Frauenhilfe. Conservatives dominated all three, although their rivalries and differences were often intense. During phase four, from about 1912 to 1918,: Protestant responses to women’s movements – and to workers’ and liberal causes in general – became increasingly hostile. The war exacerbated a trend to the right. In 1918, the DEF cut ties to the secular Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine (BDF), whose advocacy of female suffrage the DEF refused to endorse. Thus, by phase five, 1918-1919, the women’s groups, like dominant voices within German Protestantism as a whole, were positioned for hostility to the new republic. For leading members of the women’s organizations, hatred of Versailles and nostalgia for the Kaiserreich found political expression in the Deutschnationale Volkspartei (DNVP). Baumann points out the irony that the DNVP, home to so many vociferous opponents of female suffrage, itself benefited disproportionately from women’s votes in the first elections of the fledgling republic (259).
Throughout the book Baumann stresses the heterogeneity of German Protestantism – its orthodox and liberal camps, its regional variations, its ability to produce surprising alliances across theological and political lines. For example, Adolf Stoecker the Hof- und Domprediger best known for his antisemitic Christian Social Movement, emerges as a constant supporter of women’s rights in the church. Baumann calls him the “conservative modernizer par excellence” (118). Also conspicuous is the prominent role of single women. From Amalie Sieveking (born 1794), the pioneer of female charitable work, to Elisabeth Malo (born 1855), outspoken proponent of women’s full participation in the church, and Elisabeth Gnauck-Kuehne (born 1850), whose 1894 address to the Evangelisch-Sozialen Kongress represented women’s triumph over the silence imposed by St. Paul’s injunction (89), the individuals who dominate Baumann’s story remained unmarried. In 1910, Baumann indicates, almost half the DEF’s members in Hanover were single women (126). Here we see how desperately scarce opportunities for women outside the home must have been in pre-1918 Germany.
Baumann is at her best when she uses her outstanding published and archival sources to personalize her subject. For example, she draws an effective contrast between Amalie Sieveking’s vision of autonomous women’s charitable organizations and Johann Hinrich Wichern’s concept that women, as supposedly responsible for human sinfulness, owed the male world both abnegation and obedience (53). Baumann’s book loses some appeal, however, when it devolves into a purely organizational history replete with details and acronyms. Two long chapters dealing with the period around 1899 tend most in this direction.
Baumann’s research is meticulous but some important areas remain underexplored. She emphasizes Protestant heterogeneity but pays no attention to the Reformed tradition or its legacy in Germany. She mentions Christian antisemitism but does not develop the connection between hostility to Judaism – or to some constructed image of what it was – and antagonism, or in Stoecker’s case openness, towards women’s rights. Baumann moves very quickly through the final chapters, on the World War and revolution, so that I at least was left somewhat disappointed. Drawing attention to these gaps is intended less as a criticism than an indication of both the stimulating, creative qualities of the work and the need for research in related areas. Like recent contributions by Nancy Reagin, A German Women’s Movement: Class and Gender in Hanover, 1880-1933 (1995) and George Mosse, The Image of Man: the Creation of Modern Masculinity (1996), Baumann’s book helps to deepen our understanding of gender in the Kaiserreich. More importantly, like Reagin and Mosse, Baumannn shows that attention to issues of gender in turn sheds new light on every facet of the past, including the life of the church. Doris Bergen, Notre Dame University
c) Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church: A Contemporary History of Russian Orthodoxy. Boulder, Co.:Westview Press 1995.
It is always risky to write on something so contemporary as the Russian Orthodox church, especially its life in the post-Soviet era, but Davis has done his work well. Moreover, as an observer of the Russian scene for well over four decades, he has excellent qualifications to do so. He began travelling to Russia in the 1950s, completed a dissertation on religion and the communist governments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe at the Fletcher School in 1960, and spent thirty-six years in the U.S. Foreign Service. He was frequently posted to Moscow and served as President Lyndon Johnson’s senior adviser on Soviet and East European affairs. After retiring he assumed a professorship at Harvey Mudd College and devoted his scholarly endeavour to preparing this modern history of Russian Orthodoxy. The book is a prodigious effort that draws primarily on printed Russian sources and archives which have been opened since 1991, but he also reveals an intimate knowledge of existing scholarship in the field. The endnotes comprise one-third of the entire text. The title comes from an experience he had forty years ago in a provincial town. He was looking for a church and asked an elderly woman if there was a church near by and how he might get to it. Her response was: “It’s a long, long walk to church”. This reflected how many churches had been closed during the communist era. Particularly in the east and north of Russia one could travel hundreds of kilometres to reach the nearest functioning church. For many Russians it was truly a long walk to church. He shows that twice in the history of the Soviet state the regime virtually drove the institutional church to its death – the Stalinist 1930s and the slow stagnation of the Brezhnev era. Fortuitous events saved the church both times – the Second World War, with Stalin’s more permissive attitude towards the church, and the millenium of the baptism of Rus in 1988 along with Gorbachov’s pragmatism. Davis recognises that Orthodoxy is a living faith and shows clearly that in spite of official hostility and the oft-expressed desire to extinguish religion, the church was so much part of the Russian psyche that it could not be rooted out. The opening chapter briefly sketches out the position of the church from the Bolshevik Revolution to World War II. This is familiar ground which numerous writers have covered. The turn around that occurred during and immediately after the war is also well-known. The treatment of the church during the Krushchev and Brezhnev years is dealt with in considerably more detail and is accompanied by some statistical material. The millenium of 1988 and the Orthodox Church’s recovery of its institutional strength in 1988-91 makes especially interesting reading. Very informative but less inspiring is the account of the strife within the church over the revelation of KGB activities within its ranks and the splintering resulting from nationalistic secessionist movements. In the second half of the book the focus shifts from the institutional history to the integral elements of the church itself – the clergy, underground congregations, monastic institutions and their personnel, theological education, publications (including Bibles), finances, and the laity. Davis concludes that considerable continuity in the history of the church existed and that a progressive decline in communist dedication to its extinction took place. As in pre-Soviet Russia a certain kind of symbiotic relationship between church and state existed. However, Gorbachov’s moves in the area of democratization and new thinking in foreign policy led to the Russian Orthodox Church losing its status as the protected church of the state. This removed the shield against challenge and schism; the Greek Catholics, Ukrainian Autocephalists, and Protestant evangelicals quickly moved to assert themselves. Resurgent nationalism was a mighty force against Russian Orthodoxy as well. Yet the fragmentation of the Soviet Union had the effect of strengthening the church in the vast Russian Federation, and one wonders whether forces seeking national salvation will seek to co-opt the church. Will the church be a ready instrument for Russification, discipline, control and order as it once was, such as in the struggle against the Mongol Tartars, the 17th century Time of Troubles, or in the 19th century doctrine of Official Nationality? A major challenge facing the church today is the superficial Christianity of the population and how to respond to this with an effective spiritual outreach. The Baptists and evangelical sects are hoping to fill this vacuum, although Davis tells us far too little about their role in the new Russia. All in all, this is a rich book, full of insights and information about the post-Soviet church, and deeply appreciative of the role of religion in Russian history. Richard Pierard, Indiana State University. (Dick Pierard spent a month in Russia this spring teaching a course on church, state and religious liberty at the Moscow Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Christians-Baptists).
d) Michael A.Sells, The Bridge Betrayed. Religion and Genocide in Bosnia, Berkeley: U.of California Press, 1996. 244 pp
Michael Sells’ indictment is graphic, detailed and horrifying. He asserts that the genocide of Bosnia’s Muslims in the recent civil war was orchestrated and justified by Christian extremism and intolerance. Both Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croatians joined in the propagation of a vibrant “Christoslavism”, which combined the mobilization of historical religious mythology and the use of ethnic stereotypes to embark on a campaign of “extermination of the Turkifiers”. Serbs made use of nationalist literary traditions invented in the nineteenth century, or appealed to the fervent one- sided memories of the battle of Kosovo six hundred years ago. Croats, including their President Tudjman, openly called for the eradication of the “Asiatic influence” of the dangerous forces of Islam, and the creation of a defensible frontier for “Europe”. Unspeakable horrors were perpetrated in the name of such “ethnic cleansing” but the popular justification was made in religious- ethnic terms. Massacres of Bosnian Muslim women, for example, were defended as necessary as revenge for alleged plans by Bosnian Muslims to seize Serb women and put them in harems. The mass murders in the so-called safe area of Srebenica, under the very eyes of an UN contingent, were gruesomely accompanied by extensive measures to eradicate all traces of the Muslims ever having lived there. The Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia made the same mistake as the Catholic Church had made earlier in Croatia; it allowed itself to become the servant of religious nationalist militancy. Serb bigotry was fuelled by highlighting the motif of Muslims as Christ killers and race traitors, and by building a massive new cathedral in Belgrade on the spot where Ottoman Turks had allegedly burned the bones of the Serbian saint Sava. So too in Croatia, despite protests by Cardinal Kuharic of Zagreb against war crimes in Herzogovina, his own previous record of glorifying Croatia’s thirteen hundred years of Catholic history, and his attempts to deny the atrocities of the Ustacha government in Croatia during the second world war, gave a more accurate picture of Croatian Catholic attitudes, which were only enhanced by the phenomenal cult of the Virgin at Medjugorje. Nor are the bystanders let off the hook. Western church leaders seem to have been too much influenced by the long-held stereotype that the Balkan peoples have been prone to maniacal violence for centuries, so that no influential protests against the genocide proceeding there have been made. Nor did the Pope made any explicit reference to the excesses of his followers in such places as Mostar, but instead spoke with equal fervour of the suffering of all peoples in the area. However well intentioned, such appeals were of little comfort to the immediate victims. Sells’ vision is for Bosnia to return to the pluralistic kind of society it enjoyed during the Tito years, when all religions lived side by side, and valued the historic treasures of their respective artistic creativity, so needlessly and deliberately destroyed by both Serbian artillery and Croatian militias. His warning of how easily religious intolerance can be stirred up in the service of political extremism is a timely reminder that the Christian record of the past still needs to be dealt with if such recurrence of intolerance under a religious veneer is not to tarnish church history once again. J.S.C
With best wishes from a wet autumnal Vancouver, John S.Conway firstname.lastname@example.org