duh now' er] first Chancellor of West Germany
Konrad Adenauer was born in
Cologne, Germany, on January 5, 1876, the son of
a minor civil servant. He studied at the
universities of Freiburg, Munich, and Bonn, and
became a lawyer.
Adenauer began his career in
politics as a member of the Cologne City Council.
He became Lord Mayor of Cologne in 1917, and
served in that capacity until 1933. He also
became president of the Prussian State Council
and German Council of Cities, as well as chairman
of the Rhineland Provincial Committee.
During World War II,
the Nazis, for whom Adenauer expressed nothing
but contempt, imprisoned him several times. On
May 9, 1945, one day after the Allies captured
Cologne, the Americans asked Adenauer to be mayor
again, but when the British took control of the
city they dismissed him.
Entering into national
politics, Adenauer helped form the Christian
Democratic Union (CDU). After the Western
occupying powers agreed to merge their zones to
form a new state, Adenauer was appointed
president of the Parliamentary Council, in which
capacity he played an important role in the
drafting of a West German constitution. When the
CDU and its sister party, the Christian Social
Union (CSU), won 139 of 402 seats, Adenauer
became Chancellor of West
Germany by one vote, on
September 15, 1949.
As Chancellor, Adenauer helped
bring West Germany into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Coal and Steel
Community, and the European Common Market. He
personally acknowledged Germany's responsibility
for the crimes committed against the Jews during
World War II, and West Germany paid war
reparations to the Jewish state of Israel. The
Paris and Bonn Conventions signed on October 23,
1954, normalized relations between West Germany
and the Western powers, ending the period of
occupation. He and French President Charles de Gaulle signed a Franco-German Treaty of
Cooperation in 1963.
Adenauer's foreign and domestic
policies earned his party increasing majorities
until 1961, when the CDU-CSU had to form a
coalition with the Free Democratic Party (FDP),
which made Adenauer's retirement in 1963 a
condition of the coalition.
After retiring, Adenauer
traveled and finished his memoirs. He died on
April 19, 1967.
World War II
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Charles de Gaulle
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