After the Second World War Germany lay in ruins. To Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) belongs much of the credit for raising West Germany to a position of economic prosperity and making it a respected free-world ally. Adenauer was born in 1876, in Cologne, part of a devout Roman Catholic family. He was elected mayor of Cologne in 1917, a post he held for 16 years, then a representative in the Prussian State Council of which he became president in 1928. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Adenauer was stripped of all his political positions, imprisoned and then sent to a concentration camp. But after the war he organised a new party, the Christian Democratic Union and in 1949 he became West Germany's first chancellor, retiring after four consecutive re-elections in 1963. Charles Williams' magisterial biography of a great twentieth-century statesman - and German - is also a monumental history of modern Germany. The book's four sections: 'The Kaiser's Germany', 'Weimar Germany', 'Nazi Germany' and 'Adenauer's Germany' - bear eloquent testimony to this most singular of nations.
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UK Kirkus Review »
Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) stands alongside Helmut Kohl as the most successful German politician of the post-war era. A Catholic from the Rhineland and the son of a civil servant, he abandoned a legal career in the public sevice to enter politics in 1906 when he joined the Catholic Centre party. Elected to Cologne City Council he was Chief Mayor (Oberburgermeister) of Cologne from 1917 to 1933, during which time he guided the city through the shock of defeat in 1918, the Allied occupation from 1981 to 1926 and then the crisis of the inter-war depression. Briefly imprisoned by the Nazis in 1933 and again in 1944 after the bomb plot against Hitler, he emerged after the war as one of the founders of the Christian Democratic Party, a new inter-confessional party of the moderate centre and right aimed at uniting progressive Catholics and Protestants against both Marxism and right wing nationalist extremism. He was elected Chancellor of the new Federal Republic of West Germany by the Bundestag by just one vote in 1949 at the age of 73, a position he remained in for the next 14 years, making him the longest serving Chancellor since Bismarck. His greatest achievement was to lead the Germans (or the 60% of them who lived in West Germany) out of the shame, derision and hatred in which they were held by the whole of Europe, to re-build their pride, self-esteem and power and to restore Germany to the family of democratic nations. He did this by tying West Germany into the prosperous capitalist market economy of Western Europe and linking her politically to the liberal democratic states of the west, though at the cost of perpetuating indefinitely the division of Germany. West Germany thus joined the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, was admitted to NATO in 1955 and was a founder member of the European Common Market in 1957. Adenauer's other great aim was to bring about a reconciliation with the old enemy France and in 1963 a Frnco-German Friendship Treaty was signed with de Gaulle, cementing what was to become the key core working relationship within the new EEC in the years to come. Reluctant to leave office, he retired in 1963 and died four years later at the age of 91. This very full and long but also brilliant biography, the first in English for nearly 30 years and drawing on hitherto inaccessible Soviet and East German sources, will be the standard work for many years to come. Highly recommended. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Charles Williams
Charles Williams - Lord Williams of Elvel - was made a Labour Life Peer in 1985 and successively spoke in the House of Lords on Trade and Industry, Defence and Industry. He is the biographer of Charles de Gaulle (The Last Great Frenchman) and cricketer Donald Bradman.