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

In the Maelstrom of the World Economic Crisis

For some time, one of the main propaganda weapons used against Adenauer by the Communists and National Socialists had been the allegation that he was drawing a princely salary while welfare recipients went hungry. As the economic crisis intensified, the attacks on his salary, entertainment expenses and lifestyle became increasingly vicious.

Gradually, however, information began to leak out to the effect that Adenauer himself had become a victim of the stock market crash. Though the financial crisis facing Cologne was plain to see, Adenauer was managing to limit the consequences of his own disastrous financial misjudgements. Nevertheless, these were a serious handicap to him, politically as well as psychologically.

The threat of bankruptcy was the greatest problem confronting the city. Head of his financial department was his brother-in-law Willi Suth. Adenauer and Suth worked tirelessly to keep the city functioning. However, at the same time, the personal situation of the major had become desperate.

Until 1928, Adenauer had looked after his considerable wealth as cautiously and responsibly as might have been expected. At the end of 1927, in addition to the house in Max-Bruch-Straáe, he possessed assets of approximately one million marks.1 His fortune was administered by the Cologne branch of the Deutsche Bank, which had invested the money in a portfolio of gilt-edged shares and bonds. Dr Anton Paul Brüning, the director of the branch, another member of the 'black', or Catholic, establishment and a close friend of Adenauer, had recently taken personal charge of Adenauer's private account. Adenauer's confidence in the professional competence of Cologne bankers was unbroken until the end of the 1920s. For example, in July 1924, from his base in Chandolin, he had authorised the banker Ahn to make some -- cautious -- changes of the limits for buying certain shares on his own initiative.

Until 1928 Adenauer's stock exchange manoeuvres were limited in volume. Moreover, he had retained shares of which he had a degree of personal knowledge: 'Machine and crane building, Elberfeld dyes, Cologne gas and Düsseldorf machines.'2 By 1928, however, the value of U.S. shares was reaching dizzy heights. For months, conversation among the wealthy bourgeoisie had been dominated by the topic of how to exploit the vast potential of the U.S. market and thereby make enormous profits within a short space of time. Bankers were among Adenauer's regular contacts, privately as well as in public affairs; he was repeatedly given details of successful speculations. In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that he was tempted to participate.

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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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