Konrad Adenauer Biography

Short biography of Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967)

konradKonrad Adenauer was born in Cologne, Germany in 1876. After studying at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich and Bonn, he became a lawyer. In 1917, he was elected as a Mayor for Cologne, a position he held until 1933. He also became President of the Prussian State Council, making him one of the most powerful voices in Germany.

He was a staunch Catholic and his ideology put him at odds with the Nazi party. His opposition to Hitler and the Nazi Party led to his removal from office in 1933 when the Nazi’s were elected. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Konrad Adenauer kept a low profile trying to escape persecution from the Nazi’s. After the failed bomb plot of 1944, he was arrested and interned at a concentration camp near Bonn. He survived the war and in 1945 was temporarily placed as mayor of Cologne again.

“To look back into the past only makes sense if it serves the future.”

– Konrad Adenauer

Shortly after, the British commander dismissed him for alleged incompetence. After this event, he sought to establish a new political party – the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). This was a synthesis of his old Catholic party and other Protestant parties. However, he fought against a synthesis of Socialist ideology which many others in the party would have liked.

In 1949, at the age of 73, he was elected as the first Chancellor of democratic Western Germany. Many felt, due to his age, this would be temporary, but he subsequently went on to serve until 1963, becoming the undisputed leader and powerful figurehead of Western Germany.

“We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon. In an instant age, perhaps we must relearn the ancient truth that patience, too, has its victories.”

Konrad Adenauer, The Atlantic Community Quarterly (1976-1978)

Under his leadership, the Federal German Republic made a rapid transformation into a modern Democratic state. He failed to prevent the split between East and West Germany, but he did achieve many notable success in domestic and foreign policy. He oversaw rapprochement and a new friendship with France, this enabled the development of European integration which was to become the European Union. He admitted German guilt in the holocaust and set up a series of reparations to Israel. He also criticised his own Catholic church for failing to do enough to condemn the Nazi policies. He also oversaw Germany’s re-entry into the international community as a peaceful, democratic society, such as joining Nato in 1955.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Konrad Adenauer“, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net 23rd May 2012

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Konrad Adenauer: The Father of the New Germany

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