Konrad Adenauer: Europe's elder statesman

30-10-2018

Konrad Adenauer was born at the end of the 19th century in imperial Germany. Growing up in relatively humble surroundings, he adopted Prussian values and a Christian faith that guided him throughout his life. Adenauer first took up political office in 1906, as city councillor of his home town of Cologne. In 1909, he became president of the city council. He was then elected Lord Mayor of Cologne in 1917 – at the age of just 41. With the end of the First World War, Adenauer made efforts to promote transnational cooperation with Germany's neighbours to the West on several occasions – a progressive move at that point in time. When, in February 1933, the newly elected German Chancellor Adolf Hitler visited Cologne, Konrad Adenauer refused to receive him – a decision that saw him removed from his position as Lord Mayor. Forced into political exile – even incarcerated at one point – he spent the following 12 years with his family at his home in Rhöndorf. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Adenauer was determined to establish a political platform that would unite people around core Christian and democratic values and it was on this basis that he was elected as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in September 1949. Throughout his 14 years as Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer remained determined to integrate Germany into a value-based European political system. Therefore, reconciliation, rapprochement and cooperation with France became the central goals of Adenauer's foreign policy, ultimately shaping German policy up to the present day.

Konrad Adenauer was born at the end of the 19th century in imperial Germany. Growing up in relatively humble surroundings, he adopted Prussian values and a Christian faith that guided him throughout his life. Adenauer first took up political office in 1906, as city councillor of his home town of Cologne. In 1909, he became president of the city council. He was then elected Lord Mayor of Cologne in 1917 – at the age of just 41. With the end of the First World War, Adenauer made efforts to promote transnational cooperation with Germany's neighbours to the West on several occasions – a progressive move at that point in time. When, in February 1933, the newly elected German Chancellor Adolf Hitler visited Cologne, Konrad Adenauer refused to receive him – a decision that saw him removed from his position as Lord Mayor. Forced into political exile – even incarcerated at one point – he spent the following 12 years with his family at his home in Rhöndorf. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Adenauer was determined to establish a political platform that would unite people around core Christian and democratic values and it was on this basis that he was elected as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in September 1949. Throughout his 14 years as Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer remained determined to integrate Germany into a value-based European political system. Therefore, reconciliation, rapprochement and cooperation with France became the central goals of Adenauer's foreign policy, ultimately shaping German policy up to the present day.