|Cologne, Adolf Hitler, Christian Democratic Union
West Germany, Chancellor, Soviet Union
An outline historical biography
Konrad Adenauer was born on January 5 1876 in Cologne where his father worked in local government. He gained a law degree and then joined a prominent legal firm.
From 1906 he worked for the mayor of Cologne and was himself raised to the mayoral office in 1917 as a representative of the German Center Party. Adenauer held the mayoralty for some sixteen years and gained a reputation as a champion of the interests of Cologne against the centralising influence of Berlin.
At the time of Adolf Hitlers' assumption of power in 1933 Adenauer was forced out of office due to his having shown opposition to National Socialism. From this time he maintained a fairly low profile but was nevertheless occasionally subjected to the brutal attention of the Nazi secret police - the Gestapo. It was the ending of the Second World War - and the defeat of Nazism - that allowed him to return to political office in Cologne.
After the war Germany was divided into zones of occupation that were to be under the control of prominent powers that had been militarily allied against Nazism. Adenauer came into opposition with the British authorities that controlled Cologne and was dismissed from office. He now turned his interest towards national rather than local politics and helped in the adaptation of the traditionally Roman Catholic Center Party towards becoming a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that hoped to attract the support of all religions and groups to a re-establishment of democratic rule. By 1949 he was chairman of the CDU in "West" Germany - this being a polity that had come into being based on the American, British, and French zones of occupation. "East" Germany meanwhile came into being on the Soviet Russian zone of occupation.
Elections were held in Germany in 1949 as a result of which Adenauer became - at the age of seventy-three - Germany's first post war Chancellor. Adenauer worked towards the rebuilding of Germany as an economic and diplomatic power. Economic policy was entrusted to Ludwig Erhardt who adopted policies which supported economic development through allowing private business much freedom of action. Adenauer's policy cultivated ties with the United States and France and facilitated the emergence of a post-war European co-operation that acted to withstand Soviet Russian encroachments and to secure a recovery of the European economies.
As time passed Adenauer's policies, particularly in relation to the Communist east, began to seem less credible and the CDU party was unwilling to continue to support Adenauer as Chancellor - he was thus obliged to resign in 1963. He died on 16 April 1967 at the age of ninety-one having played a central role in Europe's emergence from the aftermath of the Second World War.
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Konrad Adenauer biography