Where the two kingdoms merge: the struggle for balance between national and religious identity among Mennonites in Wilhelmine Germany
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When the German Reich was created in 1871, it was an artificial construct born of Hohenzollern power projection and not of nationalism. Otto von Bismarck’s Realpolitik used the power of nationalism to unite Germans behind the Kaiser, but also divisively to keep liberals and potential opponents of the Kaiser firmly divided. The Kulturkampf was one such set of policies that attempted to suppress Catholic political authority while dividing Germany’s religious groups against one another. The Kulturkampf was also used against other religious minorities in Germany, including the Mennonites. Though strongly German in their identity, Mennonites did not quite fit in with the rest of the Reich because of their traditional opposition to military service, which was an important rite of citizenship. Although the Kulturkampf enforced the end to their military exemption and effectively put a stop to those objections, it was only one of a series of struggles Mennonites faced during the Kaiserreich to reinvent their religious identity in terms more compatible with their new German identity. Although this study refers to German Mennonites, its primary focus is on the Prussian Mennonites in the Kaiserreich. By German unification in 1871, Prussia covered a significantly greater amount of territory than it had even a decade before, encompassing all of Germany except of the southern states of Bavaria, Baden, and Würtemburg. While this study does not specifically deal with the Mennonites of Baden and Würtemburg, the expanding territories of Prussia seemed to render the referent of "Prussian Mennonite" insufficiently descriptive.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, Dept. of History.