The Catholic Thing has an excellent historical article on the oppression of Catholics in Prussia under Bismarck.
“Last month, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger raved on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Book Review about Jonathan Steinberg’s new work on nineteenth-century power broker Otto von Bismarck. The “master statesman,” Dr. Kissinger wrote, “was a rationalist whose appropriate philosopher was not Descartes but Darwin; not ‘I think therefore I am’ but the ‘survival of the fittest.’” Kissinger failed to mention, however, that Bismarck was also a rabid anti-Catholic who ruthlessly wielded his power to destroy the Church.
“Bismarck (1815-1898), born into a family of Prussian county squires – the “Junkers” – ruled Germany from 1862 to 1889 under three kings of the House of Hohenzollern. He was not a charismatic figure or a great orator, but he was a brilliant political manipulator who dominated his nation’s government by sheer force of will.
“To consolidate the numerous German principalities under Protestant Prussia and not Catholic Austria, Bismarck engineered three victorious wars in less than a decade. In 1864, after a limited war with Denmark, Prussia extended its hegemony by annexing the Duchy of Schleswig.
“Next, Prussia took on Austria in 1866 who sued for peace after being badly defeated at the Battle of Konigrantz. The agreement Bismarck negotiated established that Austria would withdraw from the association of German states.
“Then Bismarck’s Prussian Army defeated France at the Battle Sedan in 1871 and swallowed up the Alsace-Lorraine region. During the peace negotiations at the Hall of Mirrors in the Château de Versailles, Bismarck achieved his ultimate goal: King Wilhelm I of Prussia was declared Emperor of Germany, a new federation comprising twenty-five states.
“To weaken the autonomy of the constituent states, now Imperial Chancellor Bismarck – introduced universal suffrage. He quickly regretted this move, however, after he realized one-third of the population of the expanded Prussian state were Roman Catholics.”