Konrad Adenauer: A German Politician and Statesman in a Period of War, Revolution, and Reconstruction - Vol. 1

By Hans-Peter Schwarz | Go to book overview

1907. Matthias Erzberger, only a few months older than Adenauer, was already a leading figure in the Centre Party by 1914. The unfortunate Chancellor of 1922/23, Wilhelm Cuno, born the same year as Adenauer, had an important position in the Reich Ministry of Finance. Joseph Wirth, born in 1879, Cuno's predecessor as Chancellor, was a Gymnasium teacher in Baden, still far from the levers of power in 1914. The later Chancellor Hans Luther, born in 1878, was -- like Adenauer -- advancing his career at local level. Another Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, Franz von Papen -- born in 1879 -- was preparing for a future of controversy and political intrigue by working as German military attaché in Mexico.

The men of the 1880s -- Heinrich Brüning ( 1885), Kurt von Schleicher ( 1882), Carl Goerdeler ( 1884), Theodor Heuss ( 1884) were at the beginning of their careers in 1914 and would not reach the centres of power for another ten or fifteen years.

Seen with the benefit of hindsight, the members of these age groups appear to have shared many common ideas despite their different origins and political outlook. None of them doubted the greatness, power, unity and right to existence of the German Reich. Apart from the Social Democrats, who had deep reservations about the nature of bourgeois society -- though they too were becoming more pragmatic -- all of them supported the existing order despite accepting the need for some reform.

Almost more important than the actual experiences of these men were the experiences they did not have. None of the members of this political generation was influenced by the German Youth Movement. The ideas of the Movement -- its romanticism, its impulse to reform, its critique of civilisation, its tendency to support the very diverse and sometimes extreme political factions -- were largely alien to them. Their careers were already under way, even those of the men who were later to become prominent in the Federal Republic. Though they were affected by the crises of the First World War and the post-war period, the men of the 1870s and 1880s did not feel the need for radical political change and were not assailed by the doubts and disillusion felt by the front-line generation of the First World War.

The generation born in the 1890s and at the turn of the century -- the men who would eventually destroy the old world in 1933 -- developed their political outlook in very different conditions to those faced by Adenauer and his contemporaries. They were the war generation who had either marched enthusiastically to the front in 1914 or had still been at school. In 1914 Hermann Güring, with whom Adenauer was to clash in 1933, was only twenty-one; the future Gauleiter of Cologne, Josef Grohé, was a twelve-year old schoolboy; and Josef Goebbels was a Gymnasium pupil.

These names need to be mentioned in order to place Adenauer in the appropriate generational perspective. He was old enough to be profoundly influenced by the Bismarck and Wilhelmine era, but by 1914 he was

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Konrad Adenauer: A German Politician and Statesman in a Period of War, Revolution, and Reconstruction - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Prologue: Cologne 3
  • I - The Young Master Adenauer 1876-1906 33
  • Student Years In Freiburg, Munich and Bonn 59
  • Justitia Coloniensis 64
  • 'A Talent Takes Shape in Stillness' 69
  • II - The First Rapid Rise 1906-1917 83
  • The First World War 93
  • The Youngest Mayor in Prussia 105
  • III - The Mayor 1917-1933 113
  • The Rhineland Movement 1918-1919 133
  • Pater Familias 152
  • Modern Cologne 156
  • Political Recognition at National Level 164
  • 1923 -- Year of Crisis 172
  • 'the Mayors of Contemporary Germany Are the Kings of Today' 195
  • In the Maelstrom Of the World Economic Crisis 210
  • IV - In the Third Reich 1933-1945 229
  • Struggle for Survival 241
  • A Pensioner in Rh"Ndorf 269
  • 'It is a Miracle of God That I Have Survived' 281
  • V - The Party Leader 1945-1949 289
  • Dismissal by the Liberators 321
  • 'Adenauer's Seizure of Power' 329
  • The Party Leader 359
  • Towards the Federal Republic of Germany 382
  • The President of the Parliamentary Council 408
  • Setting the Course 421
  • VI - First Years as Chancellor 1949-1950 433
  • The Political Tableau During Bonn's Early Days 450
  • Adenauer's Political Machine 465
  • Strenuous Beginnings of Westpolitik 476
  • 'the Most Disappointed Man in Europe' 489
  • The Schuman Plan 504
  • 'that Bully Adenauer' 517
  • In the Depths of Unpopularity 555
  • Adenauer's Daily Life 570
  • VII - European Statesman 1950-1952 587
  • Europe 608
  • Western Treaties and Soviet Initiatives 628
  • 'the Wings of World History' 642
  • Warding off the Moscow Note Offensive 650
  • The Breakthrough: The Signing of the Western Treaties 665
  • Afterword 689
  • Notes 703
  • Archival Sources 735
  • Pictorial Sources 737
  • Published Sources and Select Bibliography 739
  • Index of Persons 747
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