Comparison of Kulturkampf and Emile Combes' Struggles with the Catholic Church

Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf in Germany, from 1871 to 1879, and Emile Combes' struggles with the Catholic Church in France, from 1902 to 1907 had similarities and differences. Both attacks on the church were the result of one man's actions. These men attacked the church for the sake of their government because they believed the church threatened the stability of

the government. They both attacked the church through their attacks on priests and nuns, restrictive laws, and fear. However, there were also differences in these attacks. In Kulturkampf, the leader, Bismarck, eased the tensions, while Combes did not do this. After the attacks were complete, in Kulturkampf the Catholics felt more welcome in society while in Combes' attacks, the Catholics ended with hard feelings and fear. These two persecutions against the Catholics and their churches had their similarities and their differences.

One man led the attacks on the church and the Catholics in both episodes. Otto von Bismarck led the Kulturkampf in Germany from 1871 to 1879; Emile Combes led his attacks in France from 1902 to 1907. These men were the main force behind their movements. While others followed them, Bismarck and Combes were the ones who built up most of the actions against the church and its people. This was one piece of the story that was similar in the two cases. Bismarck and Combes attacked the church because they both feared the church would destabilize the government they supported. These men feared this because Catholics devoted their loyalty to the church, which made them not completely loyal to their country. This caused Bismarck and Combes to be nervous about what may happen if the church was to take a side against their country. They were unsure if the Catholics would act upon their loyalties to the church rather than their loyalties to their country, which could destroy the government these two men wanted so badly. Bismarck wanted his baby, the new German Empire, to survive and not be threatened. He saw the church as a possible threat to his empire because the church was powerful and had many loyal followers. The Syllabus of Errors, printed by the church in 1864, made Bismarck worry because it called for more power to the church and less to countries' governments. In 1870, the church made it so that Catholics had to accept the Syllabus of Errors' conditions, which made them not completely loyal to Bismarck's empire. This is how Bismarck saw the church as a threat to the stability of the government. Combes also saw this threat. He wanted to preserve the republic, which already was having difficulties. Combes wanted all the French people to be completely loyal to the government; if they were loyal to the church, the people could not be completely loyal to the government. Both men saw the church's power and the Catholics loyalty to the church as a threat to their government, which drove them to attack the church in order to keep people loyal to their government.

The two attacks on the Catholic Church were similar in the way they were carried out. Anti-clerical laws were passed which restricted the lives of the Catholics. These laws mostly affected the church leaders, but they did affect the normal Catholic people also. Nuns, priests, and the Jesuits were expelled, arrested, or exiled and were no longer allowed to practice religion or perform religious services. The church no longer was allowed to run education. Religious services were restricted. In France, laymen performed Catholic Church services for two years. Bismarck and Combes attacked the church in this way to try to weaken its power and control over the citizens of their countries. The way the two men went about attacking the church was quite similar.

In Kulturkampf, Bismarck ended what he had begun, while Combes did not end the attacks. Bismarck realized that his attacks on the church did not produce very many results. Also, he realized the Catholics were not as much of a threat to his empire as he originally thought. Through these realizations, Bismarck saw there was no reason to continue with the attacks. He looked ahead to the future, thinking that he may end up needing the Catholics to be on his side at a future date, making it not in his best interests to continue his attacks. Combes, on the other hand, did not see a need to end his attacks. He saw the church as a large threat to the Republic. His attacks ended when he left office and Aristide Briand took power and ended the tensions with the Vatican. The way the tensions ended in the two conflicts differed greatly. The Kulturkampf ended with the man who began the attacks, while Combes' attacks did not end until Briand stepped into office.

The feelings of the Catholics after the attacks finished were different in France than in Germany. In Germany, Bismarck made the Catholics feel as if they were accepted once again into the society. This resulted in few bad feelings being left over. However, in France after Combes finished, the Catholics held bitter resentment over the injustices done to them. They feared future persecution by other people like Combes and never completely gained confidence in the Republic again. So, in the end, the purpose of Combes was defeated, while the purpose of Bismarck simply stayed about the same. The resulting feelings from the two attacks were different. Kulturkampf and Combes' attacks had similar and different characteristics to them. They both were the result of a single man seeing the church as a threat to their government's stability, which scared them. The attacks on the church ended up being similar in both cases. However, the end results because of the actions of the man who started the attacks. Bismarck managed to end up appeasing the Catholics and the church, resulting in few or no hard feelings over the attacks. Combes, on the other hand, kept pushing his anti-clerical ideas, which resulted in hard feelings and distrust, which lasted for some time to come. These attacks both addressed a problem with the church in a similar manner, however, the results were different because of the different actions of the leader of the attack.