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Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967)

The first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who stood at the head of the newly-formed state from 1949-63, changed more than any other the face of post-war German and European history.

Like many politicians of his generation, Adenauer had already realised following the First World War that lasting peace could only be achieved through a united Europe. His experiences during the Third Reich - he was removed from office as the mayor of Cologne by the Nazis - served to confirm this opinion.

In only six years from 1949-55, Adenauer realised far-reaching foreign policy goals to bind Germany within the western alliance: membership of the Council of Europe (1951), foundation of the European Coal and Steel Community (1952), and Germany's entry into NATO (1955).

A cornerstone of Adenauer's foreign policy was the reconciliation with France. Together with French president Charles de Gaulle, a turning point in history was achieved: in 1963 the one-time arch-enemies Germany and France signed a treaty of friendship which became one of the milestones on the road to European integration.


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