Publisher description for The wayward flock : Catholic youth in postwar west Germany, 1945-1965 / Mark Edward Ruff.


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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the western and southern regions of Germany were home to intensely devout Roman Catholic communities. By the late 1950s, however, this Catholic subculture could not withstand the onslaught of a culture of consumption--motorcycles, Hollywood films, and vacations abroad. In The Wayward Flock, Mark Edward Ruff analyzes why the strategy of using modern means to fight modern society--which had worked so successfully from the 1870s to the 1920s--did not succeed in the postwar era.

Ruff examines the vast network of Catholic youth organizations in West Germany that had traditionally served as a source for future youth leaders and a means by which the church could resist the changes of modern society. But organization membership dwindled from nearly 1.5 million in the 1920s to 600,000 by the early 1960s, due in large part, Ruff argues, to generational differences, an emerging ethic of consumption, and changes in West Germany's political makeup. Ultimately, Ruff demonstrates, church leaders were unable to provide viable alternatives to the antimodern and antiliberal ideologies of the past.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Church work with youth -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
Catholic Church -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
Youth -- Religious life -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.