The conclusion of the treaty of 1929 between the Free State of Prussia and the Holy See caused a sensation. Who would have expected the Prussian state government, headed by Otto Braun’s SPD, to
agree to a concordat with the Vatican? Even the Prussian minister for culture, education and religious affairs, C. H. Becker, believed only a few months before the agreement was concluded that
a concordat could only be ratified in the Landtag (state parliament) if the SPD delegates abstained from voting on it. No less surprising, the Roman Curia agreed to a concordat which, from the
Church’s perspective, represented only modest gains and which explicitly avoided addressing the crucial issue of religious schools.
How, then, did it come to the conclusion of this treaty? The present study begins by examining provisions of the Weimar constitution that established new conditions for relations between church and state.
Golombek shows how the Reich government was concerned, for political reasons, to demonstrate unity by way of a concordat at the national level (Reichskonkordat). These efforts, in turn, stimulated
interest in negotiating a separate concordat for the state of Prussia. Golombek’s analysis of the church-state relationship as envisioned by the Catholic Church and German political parties
reveals that Catholicism stood alone in aspiring to regulate its status through such treaties. Golombek portrays the final phase of negotiations as the dramatic climax of the concordat’s prehistory.
This study is built on previously unexplored state archival materials and the papers of C. H. Becker. It makes an important contribution to the history of the Weimar
Republic’s internal political affairs. The encounter between state and church in the years between 1919 and 1933, which Golombek ably illuminates, constitutes the essential but often ignored
background to the churches’ conduct in the »Third Reich«.