The history of East German Catholics in the first post-war years has been left largely unwritten. Wolfgang Tischner, the author of this pioneering study, has entered mostly uncharted archival
territory and uncovered a cornucopia of state, party, and church sources. Examining the church politics and social history of the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) and the GDR, he utilizes a
religious-historiographical method developed in Switzerland and the Netherlands to analyze essential spheres of a Catholic sub-society that took shape in the emerging socialist state.
Following his depiction of church structures, which formed under the defining influence of Cardinal Preysing of Berlin, Tischner examines the Church's external
political relations, then turns his attention to various spheres of socialization (religious education, kindergartens, schools) and the training of functional elites. In addition, Tischner
thoroughly examines worldly ministry in the form of Caritas (Catholic Charities), as well as the Church’s press, radio, and publishing policies of those years. In doing so, he paints a
detailed picture of Catholicism developing and asserting itself under wholly new historical and political conditions. Numerous previously unpublished photographs enhance the text.