Adenauer, Konrad

Adenauer, Konrad
   politician; among the Weimar era's most influential city leaders, he foiled separatist actions in the Rhineland.* He was born in Cologne, where his father was an official in the municipal justice office. Brought up in an atmosphere of Catholic* piety and family solidarity, he also inherited a strong regional patriotism. His studies earned him a law degree in 1899, after which he gained appointment in Cologne's solicitor's office. In 1906 he was elected to the city council. His wife, whom he married in 1904, was the cousin of Max Wallraf. When Wallraf became Oberbürgermeister in 1909, Adenauer was named his deputy. The appointment was opportune; Wallraf was often called to Berlin,* and at such times Adenauer was responsible for Cologne's finance and personnel departments. A hard worker, he was popular and prosperous by the time war broke out in 1914. But the next few years proved difficult. His wife died in 1916, and his own health, never robust, precluded his induction. In the summer of 1917 he was severely injured when his chauffeured automobile collided with a streetcar. Yet in October 1917 he became Cologne's Oberbürgermeister. "There is nothing better that life can offer," he said at the time, "than to allow a person to...devote his entire being to creative activity" (Prittie).
   As Oberbürgermeister for sixteen years, Adenauer was linked with Otto Ges-sler* of Nuremberg, Hans Luther* of Essen, and Karl Jarres* of Duisburg among the Republic's great municipal leaders. He guided Cologne through food shortages and foreign occupation, rebuilt the city's university, masterminded the construction of an electrical plant and a bridge across the Rhine, and was critical in planning a city park and stadium. A member of the Center Party,* he worked with the SPD in the city council and with the British occupation authorities. Although he was innately suspicious of Prussia,* he thwarted attempts in 1919 and 1923 to establish a separate Rhenish Republic. Twice, in 1921 and 1926, he was approached to stand as a candidate for Chancellor; by insisting on the guarantee of a stable Reichstag* majority, he undermined both ventures. Gustav Stresemann,* who relied on his support, esteemed him as a defender of the Republic. During 1921-1933 he was President of the Prussian Staatsrat.An outspoken opponent of the NSDAP, he was removed from his several offices in March 1933 and denied entry into Cologne. He survived periodic imprisonment to become the Federal Republic of Germany's first Chancellor (1949-1963).
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Cook, Ten Men; Craig, Germans; Peter Koch, Konrad Adenauer; Prittie, Konrad Adenauer.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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