The everyday religious and church life of German Catholics in the 19th and 20th centuries is currently the subject of much historical research. This research has focused on the origins, transformations,
and dissolution of a self-contained Catholic living environment, which social and cultural historians have labelled the »Catholic milieu.«
One of the main pillars of this milieu between 1850 and 1950 was »associational Catholicism.« A tightly woven network of Catholic organizations encompassed all areas of human life and succeeded in
enrolling the Catholic population to a surprising degree of completeness. As a result, faith and church continued to exert a decisive influence in the lives of large numbers of Catholics, even as German
society experienced social, economic, and political change, as well as crises and dislocation, at a breathtaking rate.
As in other parts of Germany, these developments also prevailed in the Diocese of Münster in Westfalia, a bastion of associational Catholicism in the Reich. Catholic
associations for youth, journeymen, and workers represented especially important areas of church organization in this region. Beginning in the Wilhelmine Empire, Christoph Kösters outlines the orgins and
consolidation of these organizations, their everyday associational life, and the changes in structure and mentality they underwent in the Weimar Republic and Nazi dictatorship. The study’s
long-range perspective and comparative observations of industrialized and rural regions enable Kösters to elucidate the orgnanized Catholic laity’s motives and room for manuever. In the process, he
offers new answers to questions about the possibilities and limitations of oppositional behavior in the Third Reich.