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The Catholic Historical Review 87.4 (2001) 757-758

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Book Review

Zeitzeichen: 150 Jahre Deutsche Katholikentage, 1848-1998

Zeitzeichen: 150 Jahre Deutsche Katholikentage, 1848-1998. Edited by Ulrich von Hehl and Friedrich Kronenberg. Mit einem Bildteil: "150 Jahre Katholikentage im Bild." (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh. 1999. Pp. 252. 39.80 DM.)

The German Catholic Conference passed a milestone in 1998, commemorated in this fine collection of speeches, essays, photographs, and documents by a group of Germany's leading Catholic scholars. With nineteen separate contributions, including Bundespräsident Roman Herzog's speech at the sesquicentennial celebration in Frankfurt am Main, this volume provides a clear overview of the established historical consensus.

Between the opening laudatory speeches and the closing photographic collection and documents is a series of critical essays reflecting on the social history [End Page 757] of modern German Catholicism. Contributions from Hans Maier, Karl-Joseph Hummel, Heinz Hürten, and Ulrich von Hehl among others reach beyond a narrow study of the Catholic Conference to discuss the importance of the 1848 Revolution in German Catholic history, the ongoing struggle with the Zeitgeist and national identity, and historical periodization. Essays by Karl Gabriel and Monika Pankoke-Schenk examine the contemporary Catholic response to social welfare, women's rights, and human rights. Wilhelm Damberg provides a theological and historical analysis of the rise and fall of the Catholic milieu. The final section includes four biographical essays: Adolf Birke on Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler's social and political thought; Victor Conzemius on Robert Schuman and his personal relationship to German Catholicism and the Catholic Conference; Ursula Pruss on Margarete Sommer's work in Berlin during the Nazi Era and the 1950's; and Heinz Dietrich Thiel on Monsignor Johannes Zinke's service to East German Catholics through the Catholic Conference and Berlin's diocesan Caritas office. Unfortunately for the reader, the book includes only a short bibliography and the essays have no scholarly apparatus.

This collection is a fine tribute to the German Catholic Conference and a mirror of the present consensus in scholarship at established Catholic institutions. With its glossy photo section and lack of citations, the book may be intended for a broader audience in Germany. American scholars seeking a conspectus will benefit from the quality and selection of essays in this volume.


Eric Yonke
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point



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