The Catholic Church played a weigthy role in the political life of Western Germany after 1945. It did so from the basis of a specific historical assessment, in accordance with which the Church
identified the Third Reich and all its monstrosities as consequences of a widespread turning away from Christianity. If the new beginning inaugurated in 1945 was to avoid repeating the past, it had
to be grounded in Christian values. The Catholic programs of the post-war period reflected these assumptions and goals. Such programs, initiated first by bishops and later by lay groups, addressed much
more than just church-state issues and were guided by a holistic societal orientation.
Burkhard van Schewick’s present study, based solidly on primary source research, examines the position of the Catholic Church in the western occupation zones. At the
heart of the book is the author’s analysis of the forms and goals of Catholic influence on the Bonn Basic Law of 1949 and the North Rhine-Westfalia provincial constitution of 1950. That
influence was stronger and more successful than has been previously assumed. In the process, van Schewick reliably reconstructs important events in the pre-and early history of the Federal Republic
of Germany, while situating these within the general historical context.