Myth Of The 20th Century – Episode 49: Konrad Adenauer – First Chancellor Of West Germany

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Adam Smith, Nick Mason, Hank Oslo, Hans Lander and Alex Nicholson

Notes:

Emerging from the ruins of World War II, West Germany elected Konrad Adenauer as Chancellor in 1949, noting his capable management as Mayor of Cologne during the first World War on through 1920s. Having maintained a good working relationship with British occupation forces in 1919 and being cast out of government during the Nazi regime, Adenauer was also viewed favorably by Western Allies during the 1950s – so much so that the United States under the Marshall Plan slowed the rate of German de-industrialization and allowed the creation of the new Budeswehr army to be incorporated into NATO. Seeking to ease tensions with former rivals, Adenauer formed a strong relationship with Charles DeGaulle, working with France to create the European Coal and Steel Community, precursor to the EU, and negotiated the return of 10,000 German POWs from the USSR. By the time of his death in 1967, Germany had enjoyed a sharp economic resurgence from the depths of starvation, and Germans viewed him as one of their greatest leaders of all time, having restored their place among the community of European nations following the Second World War. Bigger questions remained, however – particularly surrounding German independence. Absent the Cold War and greater geopolitics of the time pitting the Western Powers against the Soviet Union – would Germany have ever been allowed to rise as it had?

Timeline: 

1876 – Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer born in Cologne, Germany.
1906 – Adenauer elected to the Cologne city council.
1917 – After election to the mayoral office of Cologne, Adenauer begins economic and infrastructure development campaign, quickly transforms it into economic powerhouse.
1919 – Pushes for Rhennish Republic and scaling down the Prussian state, growing his public persona in the Rhineland and across Germany.
1923 – Adenauer once again pushes for a decentralization of the German state and promotes more autonomy for the Rhineland, pursiing a relationship with France.
1926 – Adenauer joins the Centre Party, a staunchly Catholic political party in Germany.
1929 – The financial fortunes of the Adenauer family are nearly destroyed by the 1929 Crash, and are only saved with the help of Deutschebank.
1944 – As the internal dynamics of Germany deteriorate and the war begins coming to a close, Adenauer is thrown into a concentration camp for suspected subversive activities against the Third Reich
1955 – The era of Bezatsungzeit, also known as the “Occupation Period”, is declared over by Adenauer, who reasserts West Germany’s sovereignty.
1963 – Adenauer resigns as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany after having served 14 consecutive years.
1966 – Still maintaining a prominent role in German politics up to this point, Adenauer finally relinquishes control over the Christian Democratic Union party.
1967 – Konrad Adenauer dies in his remote villa surrounded by his loved ones.

References: 

– Practical Idealism, Kalergi (1925)
– Günter Gaus im Gespräch mit Konrad Adenauer (1965) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90EVIH4KZsc
– The Economic Development of Postwar Germany, Dinan (1993) – http://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/se/5704/570405.html
– Konrad Adenauer: A German Politician and Statesman in a Period of War, Revolution and Reconstruction : From the German Empire to the Federal Republic, 1876-1952 (Vol 1), Schwarz (1995)
– Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947, Clark (2009)
– For Further Reading on Germany History and the legacy of the HRE: Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire, Wilson (2016)
– Weimerica Weekly – Episode 44 – Three Comrades, Landry (2016) – http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/10/26/weimerica-weekly-episode-44-three-comrades/
– Germany’s Postwar Growth: Economic Miracle or Reconstruction Boom?, Reichel – https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4413/74be516c25ed2e9e2e8ae71bf0dec2ad9db8.pdf
– American Journalists interview Chancellor Konrad Adenauer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rHqsO1mIbA
– Adenauer – Germany Reborn – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK1r4Xw4LQo
– German Economic Miracle, Henderson – http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/GermanEconomicMiracle.html
– Morgenthau Plan, Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgenthau_Plan
– Marshall Plan, Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan

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13 Comments

  1. Yeah. But are yall even religious?

    Reply

    1. Only God knows for sure.

      Reply

      1. Brb getting a rock

        Reply

  2. Excellent as always

    A few comments:

    1- You discussed how few of the Germans who surrendered at Stalingrad survived to make it home. Keep in mind that over two hundred thousand soldiers were surrounded in late November and spent much of the winter under horrific conditions. By the time they surrendered, the 91,000 men who were left were sick and starving. Also, just about the time they surrendered, the Germans launched a counteroffensive and halted the Soviet advance (Third battle of Kharkov/”miracle on the Donetz”). In fact, the soldiers surrounded at Stalingrad featured in propaganda as men who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the German lines could be reformed in preparation for the final victory. Thus the Soviets did not have much resources to spare on their new captives, nor were they especially motivated to do so having just lost a major battle. Ultimately only a few thousand men made it home.

    2- Regarding Germany’s territorial losses- In a prior podcast, Cathy Princess talked about the recent history of Lithuania and the Baltic states. She mentioned that while Latvia and Estonia had heavy Russian immigration while they were part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania was left relatively untouched. I believe the explanation for this is pretty simple- Riga and Tallinn are major Baltic ports and the Soviets would have wanted to secure these cities for their access to the Sea. Lithuania, in contrast, has only a smaller coastal city (Memel/Klaipeda) and is immediately adjacent to East Prussia. All of the Russian colonists who would have gone to Lithuania ended up in Kaliningrad instead.

    3- The pilot who got his eyelids burned off was Johannes Steinhoff. He later became a major figure in rebuilding the German Air Force during the cold war.

    Merry Christmas!

    Reply

  3. Good once it gets started but I wish you had cleaned or edited the first ten or so minutes out. Keep up the good work, Merry Christmas.

    Reply

  4. Best episode yet boys. Looking forward to the one on the collapse of National Socialist Germany. Merry Christmas!

    Reply

    1. Merry Christmas to you sir!

      Reply

  5. You did a pretty good job dissecting the Rhinelander mindset and German Regionalism in general.
    In the HRE, Havover was a fiefdom of England, Holstein a fiefdom of Denmark, and France conquered almost all lands along the Rhine. “Cologne” derives from “Colony”. Furthermore, German Rhinelanders are almost all ethnic Franks. Eastern Franks. They didn’t latinize their language like the West-Franks but are ethnically similar if not identical. Look at Addnauer, or Goebbels (also a Rhinelander), they both look like frogs.

    Adenauer was the perfect guy for an Anti-Prussian, Rhineland based occupation government. The Rhineland was a political province of Prussia, but not Prussian in any other way shape or form.

    The Second Reich overcame this playing off the states against each other as in the HRE, but it was not fair. Later with Hitler’s Gaue, all regional power in the Reich became more consolidated and equal than in the Second Reich plus Weimar. “Germany Above All” was exactly aimed at types like Adenauer. Because they are such good workers, they could easily harm other Germans and don’t care about them, as long as their region moves ahead. We see this regionalism still today, North vs South and East vs all of West, North and South and vice versa.

    Hitler called this phenomenon the Germany of 1648.

    Fun fact, “Villa Rothschild” in the woods near Frankfurt/M, became the “cradle of the Federal Republic of Germany”. That’s what they say in their About page.

    Reply

    1. Furthermore,
      Stalin offered Germany as a whole a peace treaty under the condition that Germany remained a neutral, military free zone in Central Europe. The Western Allies and the Adenauerites rejected this idea. They formed Nato and filled West-Germany with American nuclear warheads and 100x of thousands of American and other troops on German soil, aimed at the USSR. Because of this threat, Moscow decided to erect the inner German wall. It was a defensive move.
      The American meddling in European continental affairs has been even more disastrous than the English doing the same. Simply no regard for Realpolitik or the acknowledgment that your own oppressive behavior will at some point come back home. The US and UK have a certain contempt for continental Europeans.

      Reply

      1. Thanks for your informative reply

        Reply

  6. Love your work where can I donate. Also do you take commissions. Certainly would be interesting to hear an episode on Enoch Powell. Merry Christmas lads.

    Reply

  7. Kikeonastick666 January 2, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Am I seriously expected to feel sympathy for Adenauer? He played a political game that he thought would have no real world consequences, he was wrong. Typical reactionary, cowering in his church, as the world moves along without him. He got off lightly.
    I physically started to cringe when you began to talk about the ‘European love for US soldiers’, and had to pause the episode more than once. That removed attitude is rightly a cause of much resentment and only woes children and whores.
    Hitler misjudged you reactionaries(both at home & aboard), and it cost him greatly. I only wish he had more time to crush the church.
    You should record a podcast on the Spanish civil war. Try putting your spin on that.

    Reply

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