Is God Dead? Irreligion and the Masses, 1870-1914

A mission to the heathen? Hugh MacLeod looks at working-class attitudes towards organised Christianity in fin de siecle Berlin and other urban centres.

Berlin in 1890 was the world's fourth largest city. As capital of Prussia, it had a long history as an administrative and military city and a centre of intellectual life; by the mid-nineteenth century it was also Germany's greatest industrial city; and as capital of the German empire after 1871, it soon established its pre-eminence in most areas of national B life. Berlin was a city that could only be described in superlatives: it had in Unter den Linden, Europe's most impressive street of official buildings, and in the Kurfurstendamm, its most ostentatious millionaires' row; out among the pine woods and lakes of the Grunewald was growing one of the world's most attractive upper middle-class suburbs; in the north-western suburbs were some of the world's biggest factories, such as Siemens, Borsig and AEG; in the notorious Mietskasernen (rental barracks) of Wedding and Luisenstadt, with their tiny one-room and two-room flats and their succession of ever-darker inner courts, the city offered low-quality housing for the masses on a scale and of a grimness that exceeded the worst of Glasgow or New York.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email


Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week