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

faced in the early days. During his first years as Chancellor, Adenauer did not have the benefit of the aura which surrounded him later and made him almost immune from criticism. This aura did not begin to develop until 1952, when the economic miracle began to take shape. In foreign policy, Germany -- as the Federal Republic deliberately styled itself -- gradually returned to the European concert of nations after the signing of the General Treaty. Though Adenauer's contribution to economic success consisted largely of letting Erhard have his own way, progress in foreign policy was his own achievement. At the 1953 federal elections, the voters gave him credit for both. Only now, when negotiating abroad, did he have the benefit of an almost impregnable position at home.

Subjectively, things looked different, even after the resurgence of 1952 and 1953. At no time in his entire chancellorship did Adenauer regard his own position, or that of the state itself, as being entirely secure. He was often to share his gloomy view of the future with his cabinet, with the CDU executive, and with members of his closest circle: 'The situation has never been so serious…' He constantly felt under pressure and under attack.

Even when the uncertainties of 1951 were past, ratification of the General Treaty in May 1952 brought no more than a brief respite. Adenauer continued to struggle -- for ratification in the Bundestag, the Bundesrat, and the Constitutional Court, and then for victory in the federal election of 1953. His election triumph was followed by suspense over the fate of the European Defence Community in Paris. Even in May 1955, when sovereignty was restored and Germany's inclusion in the Western community was achieved, the problems of the Military Service Law and the raising of German armed forces had yet to be solved. The situation in the Middle East began to deteriorate, while the East-West conflict constantly threatened the position of the Federal Republic.

Not even in summer 1957, when Adenauer won an absolute majority for the CDU / CSU in the federal election, did the pressures upon him disappear. He was confronted by the Berlin crisis, the crisis in France caused by the Algerian war, and the manoeuvres between Kennedy, de Gaulle, and Macmillan. In addition, the Chancellor continued to be plagued by fears of an unsuitable successor whose failings might undo all his careful work. Until 1963 he regarded himself as an ageing pilot, whose task it was to steer the new ship of state through dangerous rapids and around submerged obstacles. When his own party finally forced him to resign, his outlook became even more pessimistic.

Adenauer's success in overcoming these problems remained something of a mystery even to those who knew him well. He was never by nature an optimistic statesman who could bear the burdens of office lightly. Unlike Bismarck, who had often been prepared to leave Berlin for months on end, cultivating a Junker's devil-may-care attitude, Adenauer

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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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