GHDI logo

Social Antagonism between Protestants and Catholics (1870s-1880s)

page 3 of 3    print version    return to list previous document      next document

Not even the administration of justice, whose independence had been Prussia’s special pride up to that point, remained completely unaffected by the Kulturkampf. On July 15, 1874, the Minister of Justice issued a special decree instructing senior public prosecutors to devote increased attention to Center Party newspapers and to proceed with confiscations and legal action in all cases in which they found the elements of a crime amounting to a punishable offence. Since these authorities were officially inclined to criminalize acts to begin with, one can only imagine the success that such a request must have met with. There was a conspicuous increase in the number of trials initiated against the “ultramontane” press, and the subordinate judicial and police powers were guilty in many cases of obvious violations of the law during confiscations and house searches. Even liberal newspapers admitted that any sort freedom of the press could be destroyed in this way. In some instances, Center Party newspapers were punished for printing articles that liberal newspapers in the very same town had already printed without incurring any punishment. On February 23, 1875, Reichstag representative Dr. Lieber stated this explicitly in parliament, censuring the course of action taken by the courts in his lively manner. He added that the official newspapers roused tempers in such a way that it was simply astonishing that the words spoken in the Bavarian Second Chamber—“One does not negotiate with the ultramontanes, it is better to smash their heads in!” —had yet to be put into practice; nevertheless, until then these instigations had been allowed to pass freely.

Source: Eduard Hüsgen, Ludwig Windthorst. Cologne, 1907, pp. 222-23, 226.

Original German text reprinted in Gerhard A. Ritter, ed., Das Deutsche Kaiserreich 1871-1914. Ein historisches Lesebuch [The German Kaiserreich 1871-1914. A Historical Reader]. 5th ed. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992, pp. 199-201.

Translation: Erwin Fink

first page < previous   |   next > last page