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

Adenauer himself had suggested a location in the French Zone -- Bad Ems or Koblenz. However, he quickly accepted that there were major practical and political advantages in choosing Bonn.

Though Adenauer's previous work had taken him on an exhausting series of journeys through the Western Zones, his tasks in the Parliamentary Council in Bonn were to prove much less exhausting. Later, the minister-president of Stuttgart, Reinhold Maier, was to note that 'the town had no facilities whatsoever'.2 Almost all of the founding fathers of the constitution were men without significant means who were forced to seek accommodation in a variety of private rooms, guest-houses and hotels. Adenauer himself, however, was able to return home to Rhöndorf every night and benefit from the 'extra sources of health and vitality' it provided, in the words of Kurt Georg Kiesinger.3 This situation eased the strain on Adenauer, while his robust health served to improve his reputation among his backbenchers. Of course, living on the right bank of the Rhine was not without its problems. With the Rhine bridge still in ruins, Adenauer was dependent on the ferry service; not only did this stop when night fell, but it failed to run at all in thick fog or whenever there was a danger of flooding.

Despite its drawbacks, the arrangement proved a success. Adenauer explained his feelings to Wandersleb at the end of September: 'It's going splendidly. The people feel so well here that they don't want to leave. Now we could set about suggesting that Bonn becomes the provisional federal capital.'4

Two memoranda came to a positive conclusion about the suitability of Bonn as the capital. On 27 October, Adenauer persuaded the Žltestenrat (council of elders) to consider the issue. Minister-President Karl Arnold, who shared Adenauer's assessment, joined his state secretary, Wandersleb, in praising the merits of Bonn. The supporters of Frankfurt, who had been pressing the claims of that city for some time, now found themselves engaged in a contest for support. The administrators in North Rhine-Westphalia acted quickly: building work was being carried out on the north and south wings of the Pedagogic Academy by the middle of February, even before the Parliamentary Council had reached its decision. Wandersleb later related how the building work had delighted Adenauer, who normally hated loud noise: 'For me the most beautiful sound in the whole business is the hammering and pounding involved in the construction of the debating chamber.'5

Psychology often plays an important role in grand politics. This was particularly true of Adenauer, who was always moved by powerful inner feelings. The rebuilding of the state in this visible way increased his determination to bring the constitutional deliberations to a successful conclusion. Nevertheless, his advocacy of Bonn as federal capital was politically motivated. It was supported by a series of arguments that had

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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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