The Life of Konrad Adenauer

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Konrad Adenauer

Konrad Adenauer was born in Cologne, Rhenish Prussia on the 5th of January 1876. He was one of five children of Johann Konrad Adenauer, a Cologne civil servant and Helene Adenauer. Konrad grew up in a Roman Catholic family of simple means in which frugality, fulfilment of duty and religious dedication was stressed.

In 1894 he completed his Abitur and started to study law and political science at the universities of Freiburg, Munich and Bonn. Adenauer was also a member of several Roman Catholic students’ associations under the K.St.V Arminia Bonn in Bonn. Konrad finished his studies in 1901 and worked as a lawyer in the court of cologne.

As a devout Catholic, he joined the Centre Party in 1906. As well as being elected into Cologne’s city council in the same year. In 1909 he became the vice mayor of cologne. There we would avoid the extreme political movements by committing to diligence, order, Christian morals and values and rooting out disorder, inefficiency, irrationality and political immorality.

From the years 1917 to 1933 Konrad Adenauer held the position of mayor of Cologne. During World War II Konrad worked closely with the army to maximise the city’s role as a rear base of supply and transportation for the western front. He also paid attention to the civilian food supply by using the city to finance large warehouses of food, which enabled the residents to avoid the worst of severe shortages of the wartime. Adenauer set up giant kitchens in working class districts that would go on to supply 200 000 rations per day. During the collapse of the old regime, the threat of revolution and widespread disorder in 1918, Konrad managed to maintain control on Cologne by using his good working relationship with the Social Democrats. As a mayor during the post war British occupation, Konrad established good working relationships with the British military authorities. He then used them to neutralize the workers and soldiers council that had become an alternative base of power for the city’s left wing. During the Weimar republic Adenauer was the president of the Prussian State Council from 1922 to 1933. There he was a representative of the Prussian cities and provinces. Over his whole time as mayor Konrad also managed to create new port facilities, a greenbelt, sports grounds, and exhibition sites and in 1919 he sponsored the refounding of the University of Cologne.

When the Nazi’s came to power in 1933, the Centre Party lost elections in Cologne and was disbanded. As Konrad was no longer mayor in 1933 he fled to the abbey of Maria Leach where he stayed for a year. Heinrich Böll and others of collaboration then accused Konrad with the Nazi’s. Adolf Hitler expressed admiration for Adenauer by his efforts of building a road circling the city as a bypass and a green belt of parks. He felt that Adenauer’s political views and principles made it impossible for him to play any role in Nazi Germany. Adenauer was then imprisoned briefly after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934. Over the next two years Konrad changed residences because of his fear of reprisals against him by the Nazis while living on his pension. In 1937 he claimed at least some compensation for his once confiscated house and managed to live in seclusion for some years. In 1944 after the failed assassination on Hitler, Adenauer was imprisoned a second time as an opponent of the regime. Konrad fell ill and credited Eugene Zander a communist Kapo of the camp near Bonn with saving his life by getting him transferred to a hospital. Afterwards he was re-arrested when absence of evidence against him was released in November. After the war ended, the American occupation force installed him as mayor of Cologne. But the British Director of Military Government in Germany, Gerald Templer, dismissed him for what he said was his alleged incompetence.

After Adenauer’s dismissal as mayor of Cologne, he devoted himself to building a new political party. He...
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