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

important conversations I have ever held, this was the most difficult emotionally and perhaps the most significant politically!' Adenauer too was in a state of deep emotion on 6 December 1951. During the meeting, he told Goldmann that he 'felt the wings of world history in this room.'1

What was at stake was restitution to the Jews, an issue to which Adenauer was deeply committed. Long before the Holocaust, during his time in Cologne, he had been recognized as a true friend of the Jewish community: he had supported the Orthodox community in all its variety and unique identity; he had admired assimilated Jews such as Louis Hagen, whom he recognised as one of his most important supporters; he had appreciated the contributions of Jewish academic professors; he had enjoyed performances by Jewish musicians; and he had been sympathetic to the Zionists. In 1933, he had also been touched by Jewish generosity, when Dannie N. Heineman, who had never made an issue of his own Jewishness, had been one of the few people to stand by him in his hour of need. Even before 1933 Adenauer had been utterly opposed to Nazi anti-Semitism, which he regarded as barbaric and primitive.

How did he see the issue of restitution after 1945? Discrimination against and persecution of German Jews between 1933 and 1939 had -- or so it appeared -- been only one of the many injustices meted by the regime to opponents and selected groups. Later, Adenauer was frequently to use the relatively restrained term 'injustice' to describe such conduct -- in the sense of offence against the legal order, as well as sin in the Christian sense. As regards Nazi harassment during the years 1933-1939, his position was unequivocal: the victims of state-sponsored injustice had the right to 'restitution'. In each individual case personal rights had been violated and specific injury incurred, and the 'restitution' would be fixed according to the injury sustained. Guilt in the legal and moral sense attached to those who ordered the 'injustice' or took a direct part in it, and such individuals must be punished.

Adenauer generally used the word 'crime' to describe the genocide of the European Jews during the war years. He did not refer to it often, since he regarded it as a crime almost beyond the bounds of human understanding. After his return from imprisonment in Brauweiler, however, he had stated simply: 'I have recognised that evil is a power'. Adenauer was well aware of the metaphysical dimension of the atrocity. Though he believed that the perpetrators would surely be brought to judgement before Almighty God, he was determined that they should also stand trial before judges in this life. Once again, guilt attached only to the perpetrators of specific acts. Responsibility, on the other hand, was to be applied more widely.

Adenauer was convinced that the consequences of genocide could not be dealt with by legal means alone. On the one hand, there were the survivors of the concentration camps, many of whom had made their home

-642-

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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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