Konrad Adenauer

Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (German: [ˈkɔnʁaːt ˈʔaːdənaʊɐ] (listen); 5 January 1876 – 19 April 1967) was a German statesman who served as the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1963. From 1946 to 1966, he was the first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a Christian-democratic party he co-founded, which became the dominant force in the country under his leadership.

Konrad Adenauer
Adenauer in 1952
Chancellor of Germany[lower-alpha 1]
In office
15 September 1949  11 October 1963[1]
President
Vice-Chancellor
Preceded byLutz von Krosigk (1945)
(as leading minister of Germany)
Succeeded byLudwig Erhard
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
15 March 1951  6 June 1955
ChancellorHimself
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byHeinrich von Brentano
Leader of the Christian Democratic Union
In office
1 March 1946  23 March 1966
Bundestag Leader
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byLudwig Erhard
President of the Parliamentary Council
In office
1 September 1948  23 May 1949
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Lord Mayor of Cologne
In office
4 May 1945  6 October 1945
Preceded byWilli Suth
Succeeded byWilli Suth
In office
13 October 1917  13 March 1933
Preceded byMax Wallraf
Succeeded byGünter Riesen
President of the Prussian State Council
In office
7 May 1921  26 April 1933
Preceded byFriedrich Carl von Savigny (1847)
Succeeded byRobert Ley
Member of the Bundestag
for Bonn
In office
7 September 1949  19 April 1967
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byAlo Hauser
Personal details
Born
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer

(1876-01-05)5 January 1876
Cologne, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died19 April 1967(1967-04-19) (aged 91)
Rhöndorf, West Germany
Resting placeWaldfriedhof, Rhöndorf, Bad Honnef
Political party
Spouses
  • Emma Weyer
    (m. 1904; died 1916)
  • Auguste Zinsser
    (m. 1919; died 1948)
Children8
Alma mater
Signature

A devout Roman Catholic and member of the Catholic Centre Party, Adenauer was a leading politician in the Weimar Republic, serving as Mayor of Cologne (1917–1933) and as president of the Prussian State Council (1922–1933). In the early years of the Federal Republic, he switched focus from denazification to recovery, and led his country from the ruins of World War II to becoming a productive and prosperous nation that forged close relations with France, the United Kingdom and the United States.[2] During his years in power, West Germany achieved democracy, stability, international respect and economic prosperity, undergoing the Wirtschaftswunder (German for "economic miracle").[3]

Adenauer belied his age by his intense work habits and his uncanny political instinct. He displayed a strong dedication to a broad vision of market-based liberal democracy and anti-communism. A shrewd and strategic politician, Adenauer was deeply committed to an Atlanticist foreign policy and restoring the position of West Germany on the world stage. He worked to restore the West German economy from the destruction of World War II to a central position in Europe, presiding over the German economic miracle together with his Minister of Economics, Ludwig Erhard, and was a driving force in re-establishing national military forces (the Bundeswehr) and intelligence services (the Bundesnachrichtendienst) in West Germany in 1955 and 1956. Adenauer opposed recognition of the rival German Democratic Republic or the Oder–Neisse line. He skillfully used these points in electoral campaigns against the SPD, which was more sympathetic to co-existence with the GDR and the post-war borders. Adenauer made West Germany a member of NATO. A proponent of European unity, Adenauer was one of the founders of the European Union, and a key signatory of the Treaty of Rome; he also pursued Atlanticist links with the United States as a counterbalance.

Adenauer, who resigned as Chancellor at the age of 87 and remained head of the governing CDU until his retirement at 90, was often dubbed "Der Alte" ("the old one"). He also remained a Member of the Bundestag for Bonn until his death in 1967 at the age of 91. According to British politician Roy Jenkins, he was "the oldest statesman ever to function in elected office" and the oldest head of government of a major country in modern European history.[4] As of 2021, Adenauer remains the oldest-ever European head of government and one of the oldest elected European statesmen (paralleled only by Sandro Pertini and Giorgio Napolitano); however, the governments of Tunisia and Malaysia had older heads of government during the 2010s.[lower-alpha 2]


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