Catholic anti-communism, the bomb and perceptions of apocalypse in West Germany and the USA, 1945–90
in Understanding the imaginary war
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The chapter explores how Roman Catholics in West Germany and the United States handled the permanent nuclear threat of the Cold War years from 1945 to 1990. Examining acts of popular belief as well as intellectual debates it shows that only few Catholics turned into pacifists while the majority kept approving war in general, using traditional Christian concepts such as the notion of a ‘just war’. However, changing relations between East and West and the fundamental transformation of the Catholic Church during the 1960s resulted in a change of attitude towards the atomic bombs. In the long run, Catholics expressed their opinions and fears more freely and, as the debates on rearmament in the 1980s show, they did so referring increasingly to apocalyptic images.

Understanding the imaginary war

Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945–90

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