Till van Rahden

Fatherhood, re-Christianisation and Democracy. West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Post-war Germany - Family values - Democracy

What was the nexus between the re-Christianization and the democratization of postfascist West Germany? The context of analysis is the unlikely renaissance of democracy in postwar (West) Germany after the catastrophy of National Socialism and genocidal war. In light of Germany's "Shattered Past" it is astonishing that - within barely two decades - West Germans not only accepted democracy as a formal system of governance, but cherished democracy as a way of life. Conceptions of fatherhood occupy a key site within a history of how a democratic polity came about in a German society whose citizens were emerging from a murderous past and were trying to navigate the tensions between democracy and authority in order to construct a better polity. A decade before "1968", men and women rejected authoritarian fatherhood and began to embrace what contemporaries labelled "democratic fatherhood", a softer and more emotional form of masculinity that would provide the basis for a democratic society. In contrast to the church hierarchy's support patriarchal conceptions of the family, many of lay Catholic and Protestant family experts were remarkable for the way in which they reconciled their religious identities with critiques of a patriarchal gender regime.

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