3
The Adenauer Era

We have no doubts that in accordance with our origins and our convictions we belong to the Western European world. ( Konrad Adenauer, 20 September 1949)

FIVE days after being elected Chancellor, Adenauer presented his cabinet. It was a three-party 'small coalition' of the Right, consisting of the CDU-CSU, the FDP, and the small, north German DP. The new government had a parliamentary majority of fourteen. Its appointment was a turning-point not only constitutionally, but ideologically. Anyone gazing into the German crystal ball in the spring of 1945 might well have forecast the division of the country into Soviet and Western spheres, perhaps even into separate states. He would have been much less likely to anticipate the intact survival of the capitalist system, let alone its unprecedented efflorescence. There would have been many reasons for such an assumption, connected as much with the general climate of opinion as with specific German circumstances. The Soviet contribution to Allied victory and the achievements of European resistance movements did much to raise the prestige of Communist parties. Through most of Europe the first post-war elections brought a swing to the Left, even if not necessarily towards Communist parties. Some nationalization and an extension of the welfare state were the norm. Given the -- presumed -- role of big business in bringing down the Weimar Republic and, at the least, its comfortable coexistence with the regime of the Third Reich, it seemed only too plausible that Germany would follow a similar path. Most of the writers and intellectuals who came to prominence in the aftermath of the war assumed that the fulfilment of democracy required Socialism of some kind, however vaguely defined.

What applied in the realm of ideas applied even more strongly to political parties. No party had emerged with greater hopes from the ashes of the Third Reich than the Social Democrats. They alone had voted against special powers for Hitler in 1933, they alone had been

-51-

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German Politics, 1945-1995
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Chronology xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Unified, but not United 3
  • 3 - The Adenauer Era 51
  • 4 - The Second Foundation of the Federal Republic 71
  • 5 - The Other Germany 90
  • 6 - Ostpolitik 108
  • 7 - Modell Deutschland 129
  • 8 - A New Germany 155
  • Conclusion 183
  • Appendix I. Tables of Election Results 187
  • Appendix II. Figure of Economic Performance 189
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 190
  • Index 193
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