Adenauer, Konrad°

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ADENAUER, KONRAD ° (1876–1967), first chancellor of the postwar German Federal Republic. Son of a Catholic official in the Cologne law courts, Adenauer was elected in 1906 to the city council of Cologne on behalf of the Center (Catholic) Party, and in 1917 became mayor of the city, a post which he held until he was dismissed by the Nazis in March 1933. Jewish friends helped him financially during the Nazi period. Adenauer was twice arrested by the Gestapo and escaped from a Nazi prison shortly before the Rhineland was occupied by the Allies. In 1949 Adenauer emerged as leader of the new party, the Christian Democratic Union, and was elected chancellor of the Federal Republic. He was instrumental in gaining its full sovereignty in 1955. Prompted not only by political motives but also by his own deep feelings, Adenauer tried to open lines of communication with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. His offer of financial assistance coincided with the initiative of the Israel government and of Jewish organizations which, immediately after the war, demanded restitution and compensation from the Allies and later from both the East and West German governments. In 1952, after the *Reparation Agreements with Israel and the Jewish organizations were signed in Luxembourg, Adenauer proposed to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, but was refused. Despite the opposition to the financial commitment in reparations and compensation by influential groups both in his own party and outside, Adenauer realized both its moral importance and its political advantage for Germany. In 1960 he met with the Israeli prime minister David *Ben-Gurion in New York and promised to continue financial aid to Israel after the end of the reparation commitment. Later, he declared himself ready to supply arms to Israel. He changed his mind on the establishment of diplomatic relations, however, because he feared that it might result in Arab recognition of East Germany. (See Israel Relations with *Germany.) In 1966, three years after his resignation from the post of chancellor, Adenauer visited Israel as a guest of the Israeli government. He devoted a chapter in his memoirs (Erinnerungen, 3 vols., 1965–67; in English Memoirs, 1, 1966) to his relationship with Israel and with world Jewry.

add. bibliography:

H.P. Schwarz, Adenauer (1986–91); H. Koehler, Adenauer, Eine politische Biographie (1997); Y.A. Jelinek, in: Orient, 43 (2002), 4157.

[Shlomo Aronson]