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Germany’s Catholic Fraternities and the Weimar Republic

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Jeremy Stephen Roethler

Through the last century, Catholic fraternity alumni have served as German chancellors, presidents, federal ministers, state executives, and leading voices in Germany’s parliament. They have played leading roles in the Catholic press, in Catholic youth groups, in Catholic civic associations, and in the German Catholic hierarchy. After World War II, Catholic fraternity alumni played founding roles in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU), the two parties that led West Germany’s transition from its catastrophic defeat («zero hour») to the economic miracle (1949–1969). This book considers the ideas that many of these Catholic leaders encountered as college students or as active alumni in their fraternities in the fifteen years before Adolf Hitler came to power.
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Introduction: Germany’s Catholic Fraternities

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Germany’s Catholic Fraternities

Hardly anyone has kept his social and political work so oriented to the common good as Heinrich Krone. He has always kept his own priorities in the background, always remaining focused on what mattered. Krone is an example of a true public servant; through his deeply rooted faith in God and love for his people and his fatherland, he placed his entire political work in the service of humanity.

—CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL, SPEAKING ON THE OCCASION OF HEINRICH KRONE’S NINETEENTH BIRTHDAY, 19851

A Catholic Statesman

A son of a Catholic working class family, Heinrich Krone was born on December 1, 1895, in the province of Lower Saxony, when Germany was still ruled by an emperor. Although his father died when Krone was still a young child, through the unwavering support of his mother, the promising Catholic youth was able to attend college preparatory school and then the University of Münster as a student of theology starting in 1914. Krone’s university studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, during which Krone served as a soldier starting in 1917. After the war was over, Krone finished his degree and then studied for his doctorate at the University of Kiel under the famed sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies. He also served during this time as an active ← 1 | 2 →national politician for the Catholic Center Party during Germany’s first ambitious,...

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