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Periodical Literature (Germany)

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The Catholic periodical press of Germany is a product of the nineteenth century. It is only within the last forty years that it has become important by its circulation and its ability. A number of Catholic journals are, however, much older. The oldest, the "Augsburg Postzeitung", was founded in 1695, and five others were established in the eighteenth century. Of those which were founded in the early part of the nineteenth century the most important is the "Westfälischer Merkur", established at Münster in 1822, which at first, it is true, had a Liberal tendency. Until 1848 Catholic journalism did not prosper. In this reactionary period the severe censorship of the government authorities was a drawback to the Press in general; Catholic journals were viewed in an even less friendly spirit than the others. In Würtemberg and Hesse no Catholic journals were allowed to be published. Up to the second and third decades of the nineteenth century, on the other hand, the Catholics themselves seemed to be in a condition of intellectual torpor. For the most part, the clergy were under the influence of Protestantism and the prevailing philosophy of the times. Cultured society, the Catholic no less than the Protestant, was under the influence of the "all-embracing religion of humanity", which diluted Christianity.

The "Theologische Zeitschrift" of Bamberg, edited by J. J. Batz and Father Brenner, may be regarded as the oldest periodical, but its existence lasted only from 1809 to 1814. It was followed by the "Katholische Literaturzeitung", first edited by Father K. Felder, then by Kaspar Anton von Mastiaux, who was succeeded by Friedrich von Kerz and Anton von Besnard (1810-36). The oldest of the periodicals still in existence is the "Tübinger Theologische Quartalschrift", founded in 1819, which has always had a high reputation on account of its genuinely scholarly spirit. Among its editors have been Hirscher, Möhler, Kuhn, Hefele, Welte, Linsemaun, Funke, and Schanz, names of the highest repute in the history of theology. In 1821 the "Katholik" was founded by Andreas Räss and Nikolaus Weis, afterwards Bishops of Strasburg and Speyer respectively. The purpose was stated to be "to offer the necessary opposition to the attacks, partly open, partly concealed, against the Church, by orthodox articles on the doctrines of faith and morals, Church history and liturgy, the training of children, devotional exercises by the people, and all that belongs to the Catholic Faith". The chief collaborator in 1824-26 was the great publicist Joseph von Görres, but the responsible editors were G. Scheiblein and Fr. L. Br. Liebermann. In 1827, Weis again became the chief editor. He was followed by Franz Xaver Dieringer (1841-43); Franz Sausen (1844-49); Johann Baptist Heinrich and Christoph Moufang (1850-90); Michael Raich (1891-1906); Joseph Becker and Joseph Selbst (from 1907). Since the appearance of the new Scholasticism the "Katholik" has been its exponent.

The Catholic movement was greatly aided by the arrest in 1837 of the Archbishops of Cologne and Posen-Gnesen, von Droste-Vischering and von Dunin. Connected with this is the founding of the "Historisch-politische Blätter", by Georg Phillips and Guido Görres in 1838. This periodical contended against false theories of the state, ecclesiastical Liberalism, and the writing of history from a Protestant point of view. Distinguished publicists such as Joseph Görres, father of Guido, and the converted jurist Karl Ernst Jarek collaborated on the journal and gained for it a lasting influence. Up to 1871 it Was the most prominent journalistic organ of the Catholics. Its position in politics was that of Greater Germany. After the death of Görres (1852) the chief editor was Edmund Jörg; the assistant editor from 1858 up to Jörg's death in 1901 was Franz Binder. From 1903 Binder and Georg Jochner have shared the editorial responsibility. Other periodicals were only short-lived, as the Hermesian "Zeitschrift für Philosophie und katholische Theologie" that existed from 1833 to 1852; the "Jahrbücher für Theologie und christliche Philosophie" (1834-47), edited by the theological faculty of Giessen; the "Zeitschrift für Theologie", edited at Freiburg in 1839-49; the "Archiv für theologische Literatur", edited by Döllinger, Haneberg, etc., from 1842 to 1843; the "Katholische Zeitschrift für Wissenschaft und Kunst", edited by Dieringer 1844-46, and the continuation of this periodical, the "Katholische Vierteljahrsschrift für Wissenschaft und Kunst", 1847-49. In addition there were various church weeklies.

The year 1848 and the political and religious emancipations which it brought were of much importance for Catholic life and the Catholic press. The freedom of the Press enabled the journals to express public opinion. From this time on each important periodical became the advocate of some definite political idea. Moreover, another result of 1848 was freedom of association, of which the Catholics at once made use to the largest possible extent. An increase in the circulation of the journals already existing and the founding of new ones was very materially aided by the Catholic societies. A rich Catholic life arose and came into public notice with unexpected power. Thus in the years directly succeeding 1848 a large number of new periodicals appeared. Among them were, to mention only the more important, the "Echo der Gegenwart" of Aachen; the "Rheinische Volkshalle" of Cologne, which, from 2 Oct., 1849, took the name of "Deutsche Volkshalle"; the "Mainzer Journal", edited by Franz Sausen: the "Deutsches Volksblatt" of Stuttgart; the "Niederrheinische Vplkszeitung" of Krefeld; in 1849 the "Westfälisches Volksblatt" of Paderborn; in 1852 the "Münsterische Anzeiger"; in 1853 the "Rheinischen Volksblätter" of Cologne; in 1854 the "Neue Augsburger Zeitung"; in 1856 the "Bayrischer Kurier" of Munich. In addition the conference of bishops held at Würzburg (November, 1848) expressed the wish that there should be founded in all dioceses Sunday papers containing edifying and instructive matter. Of such journals the one that attained the most importance was the "Frankfurter katholisches Kirchenblatt". The most important journals during the fifth decade of the nineteenth century were the "Deutsche Volkshalle" of Cologne, the "Mainzer Journal" and the "Deutsches Volksblatt". The "Deutsche Volkshalle" was suppressed 10 July, 1855, because its attitude towards the Government had not been friendly. Its place was taken by a journal planned on a large scale, the "Deutschland" of Frankfort, founded in 1855 by the city parish priest and well-known writer, Beda Weber. After two years it ceased, not from lack of vitality, but on account of bad financial management. The "Kölnische Blätter", issued from 1 April, 1860, by J. P. Bachem of Cologne, had a more fortunate fate. From 1 Jan., 1869, this well-edited paper bore the name of "Kölnische Volkszeitung". Further, during the sixties appeared the "Freiburger Bote" (1865); the "Fränkische Volksblatt" of Würzburg (1867); the "Essener Volkszeitung" (1868); the "Osanbrücker Volkszeitung" (1868); and the"Schlesische Volkszeitung" (1869).

In 1862 the "Literarischer Handweiser" was founded at Münster by Franz Hülskamp and Hermann Rump, to give information concerning the latest literary publications. From 1876, after Rump's death, Hülskamp edited it alone; from 1904 it has been edited by Edmund Niesert. The "Chilianeum", a general review for "learning, art, and life" was founded at Würzburg and edited by J. B. Stamminger; the review had excellent collaborators, but lived only from 1862 to 1869. During the sixties there was also established the organ of the German Jesuits, the "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach", which originally (from 1865) appeared at irregular intervals as pamphlets on burning questions of Catholic principles. It was called into existence by the storm against the Syllabus and the Encyclical of 8 Dec., 1864. From 1871 it has been issued regularly and has included within the scope of its observation all important questions and events. Its circle of collaborators includes the most noted German Jesuits, as Alexander Baumgartner (now deceased), Stephan Beissel, Viktor Cathrein, Franz Ehrle, Wilhelm Kreiten (now deceased), Angustin Lehmkuhl, Christian and Tilmann Peach, etc. In 1866 the excellent "Theologisches Literaturblatt" of Bonn was founded, but after 1870 it became an organ of the Old Catholics.

The Kulturkampf now broke out, which consolidated the Catholics, and impressed on them most powerfully the necessity of a press of their own. Consequently the larger number of Catholic periodicals have appeared from the seventies on. Simultaneous with the occurrence of the Kulturkampf was the founding of the Centre Party (Dec., 1870). Since then a Catholic paper and a paper that is the organ of the Centre Party are with very few exceptions identical. The exciting years of the ecclesiastico-political struggle small papers particularly, such as the "Kaplanspresse" (curate's press), shot up like mushrooms. On 1 Jan., 1871 the "Germania" newspaper appeared at Berlin, as the new and most important organ of the Centre Party; it was founded as a company by members of the Catholic societies of Berlin with the active and praiseworthy aid of the embassy councillor Friedrich Kehler (died 1901). Up to 1878 Paul Majunke (died 1899) wrote for it articles that were exceedingly sharp and contentious in tone. He was followed as editor up to 1881 by the learned and more moderate Dr. Adolf Franz, who was succeeded by Theodor Stahl, Dr. Eduard Marcour, and, from 1894, Hermann ten Brink. Besides the "Germania" and the "Kölnische Volkszeitung", which latter has been edited from 1876 by Dr. Herman Cardauns with great skill and intelligence, there are important provincial periodicals that maintain Catholic interests. Of these should be mentioned: the "Deutsche Reichszeitung" founded at Bonn in 1872; the "Düsseldorfer Volksblatt", that developed greatly under the editorial guidance of Dr. Eduard Hüsgen; the "Niederrheinische Volkszeitung" of Krefeld; the "Essener Volkszeitung"; the "Trierische Landeszeitung", founded in 1873 by the energetic chaplain Georg Friedrich Dasbach (died 1907); the "Westfälischer Merkur" of Münster, edited by J. Hoffmann and Chaplain Karl Böddinghaus; the "Tremonia" of Dortmund, founded in 1875; the "Münsterischer Anzeiger"; the "Westfälisches Volksblatt" of Paderborn; the Schlesische Volkszeitung" of Breslau edited by Dr. Arthur Hager, one of the "most dashing champions of the Centre Party"; the "Deutsches Volksblatt" of Stuttgart; the "Mainzer Journal"; the "Badischer Beobachter"; the "Augsburger Postzeitung"; the "Bayerischer Kurier" of Munich. The editors had to make great personal sacrifices, for the legal actions against them for violations of the press laws the confiscations, fines, and imprisonments were almost endless. It must be acknowledged that there were some editorial elements whose speech and method of fighting did no honour to their cause. Among the weekly papers the "Katholisches Volksblatt" of Mainz had a large circulation (35,000), and great influence in Southern Germany; the "Schwarzes Blatt" was published at Berlin as a paper of general scope for the common people.

It was in the era of the Kulturkampf (1875) that the first large illustrated family periodical "Der Deutsche Hausschatz" was founded at Ratisbon; it had a large circulation and was edited 1875-88 by Venanz Müller; 1888-98 by Heinrich Keiter; at present by Dr. Otto Denk. A new literary journal was also established in 1875 by the secular priest J. Köhler under the name of the "Literarische Rundschau für das katholische Deutschland". From this time on the Catholic Press has steadily grown. The number of political newspapers and eeclesiastico-political Sunday papers was: in 1880, 186; in 1890, 272; in 1900; 419; in 1908, 500. In Prussia alone the Catholic periodicals numbered in 1870, 49; in 1880, 109; in 1890, 149; in 1900, 270. The number of Catholic periodicals appearing in Germany in 1890 was 143. Since this date the number has more than doubled.

The present condition of the Catholic Press is as follows:

(1) Daily political newspapers 278; political newspapers appearing four times weekly, 14; three times weekly, 134; twice weekly, 83; once weekly, 64; in addition there are 19, the time of appearance of which is unknown, making altogether 592. In regard to the extent of the circulation of these newspapers, statements as to the issue have been given by the publishers of 338 of them. The total issue of all for one number amounts to 1,938,434. The issue printed by the remaining 254 can be averaged as 1500 for each number, altogether as 381,000. According to this all the political newspapers taken together issue a total edition of 2,319,434 for one number. In 1880 the number of subscribers to the Catholic papers was estimated at 596,000; in 1890 Keiter estimated it at over 1,000,000. The growth, therefore, was very large. Unfortunately, a comparison with the Protestant Press cannot be made because comprehensive statistics are lacking, and because there is some uncertainty as to just what would be meant by a "Protestant newspaper". Yet it may be accepted that the Catholic Press would equal it in the number of its organs and subscribers.

An important Catholic newspaper is the "Kölnische Volkszeitung", which appears three times daily; the editor-in-chief from 1907 is Dr. Karl Hoeber, the publisher J. P. Bachem of Cologne; circulation 26,500 copies. Its quiet, dignified, conciliatory tone, combined with firmness of principle, has gained for it the respect of all, especially the cultured circles, and its influence extends far beyond the limits of Germany. The "Germania" is next to it in reputation; the editor-in-chief of the "Germania" is Hermann ten Brink, the publisher. Financially it is less favourably situated than the Cologne journal, because being published in a Protestant city, it lacks advertisements. In 1882 its circulation was 7000 copies; its present circulation is unknown, but it is probably from 12,000 to 14,000. The other newspapers previously mentioned in speaking of the Kulturkampf have also prospered and developed, with the possible exception of the "Westfälischer Merkur", which has declined somewhat. The one with the largest number of subscribers is the "Essener Volkszeitung" (54,500).

(2) There are published in the German Empire over 300 Catholic periodicals, which have about 5,000,000 subscribers. Among these are:

Up to the present time the growth of the Catholic Press of Germany has been both rapid and steady. As the Catholics in Germany number about 21,000,000, there is room for an increase in the sales of these periodicals, and their circulation will probably grow still larger. On the other hand an increase in the number of organs is less necessary and desirable. The effort should rather be made to overcome the decided disparity between quantity and quality. There are, perhaps, no more than a dozen Catholic dailies which have a really high value. Most of the others limit themselves to a systematic use of correspondence, the collection of notices, and polemics that are not always very skilful; they are also, in part, so monotonous that they can only be enjoyed by an unassuming circle of readers. The relatively small subscription lists of the really important journals and the undue number of small periodicals show that the cultivated classes satisfy their need of reading in part with non-Catholic periodicals. The case is the same with the family papers. An issue of 10,000 copies is very small for so excellent a review as "Hochland". The satisfaction expressed in each succeeding edition of Keiter's "Handbuch der katholischen Presse" over the growth of the Catholic press refers only to quantity. In regard to quality there is little choice.


About this page

APA citation. Löffler, K. (1911). Periodical Literature (Germany). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11677a.htm

MLA citation. Löffler, Klemens. "Periodical Literature (Germany)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11677a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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