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

Struggle for Survival

Four years passed between Adenauer's dismissal on 13 March 1933 and his final settlement with the city of Cologne in August 1937. This was the most depressing period of Adenauer's whole life. Though he never found it easy to express his feelings, he told his few remaining friends that there were weeks when he was almost at the end of his tether: 'I will not waste many words on my state of mind, contenting myself by saying one thing: without my family and my religious principles, I would have ended my life long ago, it is so little worth living.'1

Adenauer was in poor health and without a permanent home. Moreover, for over a year after his dismissal he feared that his political opponents were determined to use legal proceedings to ruin him entirely. His desperate attempts to find himself a new profession ended in failure. However, his greatest worries were about money, more serious than any he had known since he was a student. At least in his student days he had been without dependents, whereas now he was the head of a family of nine.

Owing to his fear of SA attacks, Adenauer did not dare return to his home in Cologne, though his family continued to live in the Caritas Hohenlind institution in the city. Accompanied by his wife, he moved to the Benedictine monastery of Maria Laach in the last week of April. The guest rooms where he stayed reflected the character of the old Benedictine abbey, dignified but far from luxurious. Adenauer had a large room panelled with dark wood, with a high window, a carpet, and a simple writing desk with a lamp. Photographs of the room show a crucifix on the desk and a prie-dieu by the wall.

The monastery church, founded by Pfalzgraf Henry II in 1093, is a magnificent example of late Romanesque architecture. It lies by a lake, close to meadows and deciduous forest, though remaining easy to reach by car and bus. As a guest, Adenauer was not involved in the fixed rhythms of monastery life -- the choir, prayers, work in the garden, pottery, painting and academic study -- and was, in theory, free to walk in the woods or along the lake. However, he had been warned not to appear outside more than was necessary. As a result, he often attended religious services, watching from the organ-loft where he would not come face-to-face with visitors. When he wished to go into the wood, he left through a small gateway in the monastery wall.

His stay in Maria Laach was far from idyllic. Nevertheless, rather like the period after the death of his first wife, it was a time when Adenauer was forced to reflect deeply upon his life and attitudes. After that earlier catastrophe, however, he had at least been busy with official business,

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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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