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Konrad Adenauer and the Christian Democratic Union in West Germany

Konrad Adenauer was born on January 5, 1876 in Cologne, Germany. He was the baby of a family of 3 children born to a lawyer and his wife. The family was Roman Catholic and had little money to distribute among all three of the children. Konrad Adenauer succeeded through all these struggles and rose to study at universities in Freiburg, Munich, and Bonn to follow in his father’s footsteps. After his studies he became a member of the Cologne City Council in 1917 and, through that position he became mayor. He was elected to the Provincial Diet in 1920 and became President of the Prussian State Council. Later in that decade the Nazis came to power and Konrad Adenauer was replaced in all of the positions that he held and then imprisoned. He was forced to reside in an abbey for a year and then was sent to a prison camp with his son who was also a protestor of the Nazis. The two were forced to endure this treatment as a result of their efforts against the Nazis.

After his imprisonment he was asked by the Americans to return to his position of mayor of Cologne; however, the position was taken away from him by the British. As a result of this Adneauer started a new political party that united the religious groups of the Protestants and the Catholics called the Christian Democratic Union. At the end of World War II when the split of West and East Germany occurred, Konrad Adenauer was famous as he became president of the parliamentary council of West Germany. Once West Germany had formed from the three portions of land from France, United States of America, and Britain, Adenauer helped write the constitution for the whole expanse of West Germany. When the first election came around in 1949, 73 year old Konrad Adenauer was appointed Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Konrad Adenauer’s main goal as Chancellor consisted of creating a solid and democratic state in West Germany. As Chancellor of West Germany he had many accomplishments which included the establishment of a police force, ending of military occupation in West Germany, recognition of West Germany as an independent nation across the world, and joining NATO along with joining the European Defense Community. Adenauer was also known for creating and following through with an agreement to Israel for the damage done to Jews by the Nazis. Adenauer made agreements and was peaceful and negotiated with other democratic countries and even some eastern communist countries like the USSR. Basically through his negotiating peaceful and diplomatic relations were made possible with many countries in Europe and across the board in other countries. The new elections in 1961 as it came time for Adenauer to give up his power and he didn’t want to therefore turmoil and scandal came about in the government of Germany. Until the elections his Christian Democratic Union party had great success while combining with other parties such as the Free Democratic Party. This trend was continued until 1957. After retiring as chancellor he remained leader of the Christian Democratic Union party until he left this earth in his early nineties.

Research by Anna Gill
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
Cosby High School

“Adenauer, Konrad.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.16 May 2008 .

“Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967).” BBC History Chanel. 2008. BBC. 16 May 2008 .

“Knowledge Bank Profiles: Konrad Adenauer.” CNN Interactive. 2008. CNN. 16 May 2008 .

Mitchell, Otis C. “Adenauer, Konrad.” World Book. 2006th ed. 2006.

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