Konrad Adenauer

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Adenauer, Konrad

(kôn`rät ä`dənou'ər), 1876–1967, West German chancellor. A lawyer and a member of the Catholic Center party, he was lord mayor of Cologne and a member of the provincial diet of Rhine prov. from 1917 until 1933, when he was dismissed by the National Socialist (Nazi) regime. He was twice imprisoned (1933 and 1944) by the Nazis. Cofounder of the Christian Democratic Union (1945) and its president from 1946 to 1966, he was elected chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) in 1949 and was reelected in 1953, 1957, and 1961. He also served (1951–55) as his own foreign minister, negotiating the West German peace treaty (1952) with the Western Allies and obtaining recognition of West Germany's full sovereignty through the Paris Pacts and through an agreement with the USSR in 1955.

Adenauer's strong will and political acumen helped to give Der Alte [the old man], as he was known, great authority in West German public life. The political architect of the astounding West German recovery, he saw the solution of German problems in terms of European integration, and he helped secure West Germany's membership in the various organizations of what has become the European UnionEuropean Union
(EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the European Community (EC), an economic and political confederation of European nations, and other organizations (with the same member nations)
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. In 1961 his party lost its absolute majority in the Bundestag, and he formed a coalition cabinet with the Free Democrats. In 1962 a cabinet crisis arose over the government's raid of the offices of the magazine Der Spiegel, which had attacked the Adenauer regime for military unpreparedness. After agreeing to the Free Democrats' demands that he exclude his defense minister, Franz Josef StraussStrauss, Franz Josef
, 1915–88, West German political figure, leader of the Christian Social Union. He became prominent in the Bavarian Christian Social Union (the Bavarian wing of the Christian Democratic Union) after World War II.
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, who was implicated in the affair, from a new cabinet, Adenauer succeeded in re-forming the coalition. At the same time Adenauer announced (Dec., 1962) his retirement as part of the agreement with the Free Democrats. He resigned in Oct., 1963. His writings include World Indivisible (tr. 1955).


See his memoirs of the years 1945–53 (tr. by B. R. von Oppen, 1966); biographies by T. C. F. Prittie (1972) and C. Williams (2001); E. Alexander, Adenauer and the New Germany (tr. 1957); P. Weymar, Adenauer (tr. 1957); A. J. Heidenheimer, Adenauer and the CDU (1960); N. Frei, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past (2003).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Adenauer, Konrad


Born Jan. 5, 1876, in Cologne; died Apr. 19, 1967, near Bonn. A statesman of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG).

Adenauer received his university degree in 1901 and became a lawyer. After World War I he took part in the Rhineland separatist movement. From 1917 until 1933 he was lord high mayor of Cologne, and from 1920 until 1932 he was president of the Prussian state council. One of the leaders of the Catholic Center Party, Adenauer became a member of the board of overseers of power and coal joint-stock companies and the Deutsche Bank. From 1946 he was the president of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), at first in the English occupation zone of Germany and, from October 1950, in all of West Germany. He had intimate connections with foreign monopolies. During 1948–49 he was the president of the so-called parliamentary council. He took an active part in conducting separate West German monetary reforms and in other measures aimed at completing the split of Germany.

After the creation of the FRG, Adenauer became the federal chancellor, a post he held from September 1949 until October 1963; from 1951 until 1955 he was minister of foreign affairs as well. In September 1955 he was in the USSR to negotiate the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and the FRG. The Adenauer government signed the Paris Agreement of 1954, bringing the FRG into NATO. The policies of the Adenauer government made possible the revival of militarism and revanche in West Germany. It prohibited the activity of the Communist Party of Germany in 1956 and of many other progressive organizations in the FRG. Adenauer was guided by the aggressive circles of the USA and favored conducting policies “from a position of strength” in relation to the USSR and other socialist countries. He was a major instigator of the revanchist policies of the FRG, aimed at the revision of the bases of the postwar structure of Europe.


Dzelepy, E. N. Konrad Adenauer: legenda i deistvitel’nost’. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from French.)
Pritzkoleit, K. Wem gehört Deutschland? Munich, 1957.
Pritzkoleit, K. Männer, Mächte, Monopole. Düsseldorf, 1953.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.