Adenauer was West Germany's first chancellor and a key figure in rebuilding the country after World War Two.
Konrad Adenauer was born in Cologne on 5 January 1876, the son of a lawyer. He studied at the universities of Freiburg, Munich and Bonn before himself becoming a lawyer. He became a member of Cologne City Council, and in 1917 lord mayor of the city. He was elected to the Provincial Diet and, in 1920, became president of the Prussian State Council, making him one of the most influential politicians in Germany.
Adenauer was replaced as mayor of Cologne after the Nazis came to power, and was briefly imprisoned in 1934. He was arrested by the Gestapo in September 1944 and accused of involvement in the failed July bomb plot against Hitler.
The United States, which liberated Cologne, appointed Adenauer mayor again, but he was dismissed soon afterwards by the British military government. Adenauer set about forming a new political party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In 1948, he was made president of the parliamentary council which drew up a constitution for the three western zones of Germany. These were the zones occupied by the French, British and Americans. The Soviets occupied the eastern zone of Germany and installed a Communist government.
Adenauer was elected chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany on 15 September 1949. His main aim was to ensure West Germany's transition to a sovereign, democratic state. Military occupation of West Germany ended in 1952 and in 1955 West Germany was recognised internationally as an independent nation. It joined NATO in 1955 and the European Economic Community in 1957.
Adenauer was particularly keen to encourage closer ties with the USA and France. He opened diplomatic relations with the USSR and eastern European communist nations, but refused to recognise the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Adenauer also negotiated a compensation agreement with Israel in recognition of the crimes perpetrated against Jews by the Nazis.
Adenauer retired as chancellor in 1963, remaining head of the CDU until 1966. He died near Bonn on 20 April 1967.
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