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

from the period before 1933; his persecution by the Nazis; his mental and physical resilience; a considerable talent for organisation; and, not least, a remarkable faith in the rightness of his own beliefs.

Yet there were other factors involved in his success. Adenauer possessed a highly developed capacity to understand the overall political situation. Analysis of his confidential reports to the CDU Zone committee, for example, reveals his instinctive grasp of the conflicts between the four occupying powers. He was alert to the links between international conditions and the economic situation; equally, he understood the complexities of the infant German party system and the aims and limitations of its chief protagonists. Adenauer had clear ideas about the likely course of developments and, on the occasions when he misjudged the situation, he remained prepared to make rapid adjustments in response to convincing arguments. Though suitably sceptical in his approach during the early post-war years, he remained sufficiently optimistic to work for desirable changes. Unlike most other party politicians, Adenauer did not act mainly on the basis of temporary tactical considerations, but recognised the value of maintaining long-term strategies based on his view of likely or desirable developments.

Though he did not state it explicitly, Adenauer's ideas in the early post-war years were based on the primacy of foreign policy. Thus he acted on the understanding that overall developments would be determined almost exclusively by the victorious powers. Even in the summer of 1945, he had a clear idea of what to expect. In his opinion, Soviet Russia was the great danger. Europe and Germany were being divided into East and West, but the main problem was that the Western Powers had not yet fully adjusted to the new situation. They were not alone: the leaders of the non-Communist parties, including his own, had either misjudged the situation or were too weak to draw the appropriate hard conclusions.

Undeterred by the need for constant repetition of his views, Adenauer began to force his party colleagues, and from summer 1947 the general public, to take note of his political outlook. He never tired of emphasising that decisions in party politics were dependent mainly upon foreign- policy conditions. Since the main danger came from the Soviet Union, their own actions must be guided by the need to oppose Soviet influence.

Until the summer of 1946, Adenauer believed that Moscow was endeavouring 'to get the leadership in Germany with the help of the KPD and parts of the SPD'.1 This belief also explained many of his efforts to forge an anti-socialist bloc of German parties. Through discussions and letters, he urged Scharnagl in Munich, Petersen in Hamburg, Heile of the FDP, and others to unite in opposition to the KPD, which he regarded as power-hungry and supported by the Soviet Union, and the SPD, which he considered too sympathetic to the Communists. The party system that was emerging after mid-1945 was becoming polarised. On 1 September 1945,

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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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