(German, “conflict of cultures” or beliefs)
The conflict between the German government headed by Bismarck and the Roman Catholic Church (1872–87) for the control of schools and Church appointments. Bismarck, anxious to strengthen the central power of the German Second empire in which southern Germany, Alsace-Lorraine, and the Polish provinces were predominantly Catholic, issued the May Decrees (1873), restricting the powers of the Catholic Church and providing for the punishment of any opponents. By 1876 1300 parishes had no priest: opponents had become martyrs. Needing Catholic support in the Reichstag, Bismarck repealed many of the anti-Church laws or let them lapse.