The years of Adenauer's chancellorship 1949-1963 were an extremely violent and anxiety laden period in recent history. Adenauer himself tried to combine as basic aims Western integration and German unification, but the latter more and more became a matter of lip-service for the time being for domestic reasons. The article focused on his Potsdam complex which meant the fear that the Western allies and the Soviet Union might find a solution of the German question without unification or in a kind of neutralism. In the course of the 1950ies and especially during the Berlin Wall crisis 1958-1962, Adenauer's course became more and more isolated because he tried to prevent all talks on relaxation of tensions, but also on the German question: both might lead to a status minor and the FRG especially. The author demonstrates how this process of isolation in the domestic as well as in the international field diminished the authority of the first chancellor of the FRG. He nevertheless continued to adhere to the necessary dichotomy of the Cold War camps with being able to formulate a diverging line. It is suggested that these questions of alternatives to the Cold War, given the mutual anxiety of the two camps should be used as a starting point for further research.
This article focuses on the economic aspects of German European policy in the 1950s and raises the question whether the economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany, “Soziale Marktwirtschaft” had any impact on the European policy of the West German state. It argues that Social Market Economy as defined by Ludwig Erhard influenced German European policy in certain aspects, but there was a latent contradiction between the political approach of Konrad Adenauer and this economic concept. Moreover, this article shows that West German European policy was not always as supportive for European unity as it is often considered.
William Glenn Gray
This essay explores the relationship between West Germany's “economic miracle” and the goal of reunification in the early postwar decades. It argues that Konrad Adenauer was reluctant to mobilize economic resources on behalf of German unity-instead he sought to win trust by proclaiming unswerving loyalty to the West. Ludwig Erhard, by contrast, made an overt attempt to exchange financial incentives for political concessions-to no avail. Both of these chancellors failed to appreciate how West Germany's increasing prosperity undermined its diplomatic position, at least in the near term, given the jealousies and misgivings it generated in Western capitals and in Moscow. Only a gradual process of normalization would allow all four of the relevant powers-France, Britain, the United States, and the USSR-to develop sufficient trust in the economically dynamic Federal Republic to facilitate the country's eventual unification.
The role of Konrad Adenauer in the proceedings of the Parliamentary Council in Bonn and his decision after his election as first federal chancellor not to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party paved the way to a fundamental transformation of the traditional German democratic paradigm versus the Anglo-Saxon concept of interaction between government and parliamentary opposition. The inherited pattern of constitutional democracy that had contributed to the structural weaknesses of Weimar parliamentarism was replaced by the concept of an interaction between government and opposition. Political parties took on the primary tasks of securing stable parliamentary majorities and providing sufficient electoral support for the chancellor. Adenauer's resolved political leadership, therefore, was an indispensable contribution to the reorientation of West German political culture from the former distrust of unrestricted parliamentary sovereignty toward Western democratic traditions.
Martin H. Geyer
Sports have always been used to promote the nation state and the invention of national traditions with national symbols such as flags and national hymns playing an important role. This article looks at the peculiar situation of the post-war period when two Germanys established themselves also in the field of sports, yet cooperated in some athletic disciplines, and, most important of all, at the Olympic Games until 1968. This raised a great number of delicate political questions, particularly the politics of the nonrecognition of the GDR which strove hard to establish itself internationally by way of the international sports movement. Konrad Adenauer and the German Sports Organization clashed on this issue which brought to the fore the question of a German and an emerging West-German identity. In order to describe this negotiation of the nation state in the realm of sports, this article tries to make fruitful use of the term postnationalism in order to understand the ambiguities of identity of Germans towards their nation state. It also takes a brief look at the Olympic Games of 1972, which epitomizes more than anything else the peculiar postnationalism of the Federal Republic.
Jay Howard Geller
Since 1949, the Federal of Republic of Germany's titular head of state, the Federal President (Bundespräsident), has set the tone for discussion of the Nazi era and remembrance of the Holocaust. This precedent was established by the first Bundespräsident, Theodor Heuss. Through his speeches, writings, and actions after 1949, Heuss consistently worked for German-Jewish reconciliation, including open dialogue with German Jews and reparations to victims of the Holocaust. He was also the German Jewish community's strongest ally within the West German state administration. However, his work on behalf of the Jewish community was more than a matter of moral leadership. Heuss was both predisposed towards the Jewish community and assisted behind-the-scenes in his efforts. Before 1933, Heuss, an academic, journalist, and liberal politician, had strong ties to the German Jewish bourgeoisie. After 1949, he developed a close working relationship with Karl Marx, publisher of the Jewish community's principal newspaper. Marx assisted Heuss in handling the sensitive topic of Holocaust memory; and through Marx, Jewish notables and groups were able to gain unusually easy access to the West German head of state.
From the beginning of the West German state, a lot of public opinion polling was done on the German question. The findings have been scrutinized carefully from the 1950s onward, but polls have always been taken at face value, as a mirror of society. In this analysis, polls are treated rather as an observation technique of empirical social research that composes a certain image of society and its public opinion. The entanglement of domestic and international politics is analyzed with respect to the use of surveys that were done around the two topics of Western integration and reunification that pinpoint the “functional entanglement” of domestic and international politics. The net of polling questions spun around these two terms constituted a complex setting for political actors. During the 1950s, surveys probed and ranked the fears and anxieties that characterized West Germans and helped to construct a certain kind of atmosphere that can be described as “Cold War angst.” These findings were taken as the basis for dealing with the dilemma of Germany caught between reunification and Western integration. The data and interpretations were converted into “security” as the overarching frame for international and domestic politics by the conservative government that lasted until the early 1960s.
The Élysée Treaty turned fifty on 22 January 2013—signed in 1963
between France and Germany, under the watchful eyes of French President
Charles de Gaulle and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
Although celebrated every decade, this particular anniversary comes at a
crucial time in the countries’ bilateral relationship. After a few tumultuous
years of disagreement and distance between Paris and Berlin over serious
economic and foreign policy issues, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and French President François Hollande have seized the opportunity of
the year-long anniversary calendar to work on political rapprochement, in
the spirit of one of the original purposes of the Treaty itself.
The 2011 Libya campaign highlighted the divergence of interests between France and Germany within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in matters of Middle East and global security. This divergence calls for a reassessment of the meaning of their bilateral cooperation, as defined in the Treaty of Friendship between France and Germany, otherwise known as the Élysée Treaty, signed on 22 January 1963 by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle. This article focuses on France, which engaged militarily in Libya cooperating with the United Kingdom as its principal European partner. Germany, for reasons explained by its history, political culture, and the nature of its federal system, chose to abstain in the United Nations vote to authorize the campaign. These differences between France and Germany suggest a contrast in their respective security and, particularly defense, policy objectives on the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.
Researching and writing contemporary history move forward in a
certain rhythm. Today, the 1960s are the decade of major interest,
whereas the 1970s increasingly are becoming the testing ground of
new approaches and reinterpretations. By contrast, the 1950s seem
of little interest—with most of the issues solved and most sources
accessible. But this could be a false impression, especially if one
takes into account the dominant views on this period that have
become popular in the last years. After 1989/90, with the fall of the
Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the end of the Cold
War, many historians developed and corroborated an interpretation
of the postwar decades—a now widely accepted master narrative of
the “German question.” With the benefit of hindsight, they claimed
that Konrad Adenauer’s policy of Western integration was a necessary
and inevitable course, which facilitated eventual reunification.
Other political options would have rendered the Federal Republic of
Germany (FRG) dangerously open to stronger communist pressure or
even would have presented the Soviet Union with the opportunity to
expand its empire to Germany as a whole.