Study Guide

Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer in Tear Down This Wall

By Ronald Reagan

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Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer

Konrad was the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (i.e., West Germany) after WWII. Even though he died twenty years before the Speech at the Berlin Wall was given, Reagan mentions him by name.


Because Adenauer, as the first post-Hitler leader of his country, probably could have taken the Fatherland in a number of directions. But he pushed for an independent and democratic West Germany, and for friendly relations with the U.S., France, and Britain.

And that is (partly) how the alliance between the U.S. and West Germany was born.

Konrad was a persistent dude: in 1934, when Adenauer was the mayor of Cologne, the Nazis took over and briefly put him in prison. Then in 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and accused of plotting to kill Hitler.

Despite these little SNAFUs, he managed to dust himself off after the war and preside over Wirtschaftswunder, also known as the German Economic Miracle, which helped put countries like West Germany and Austria back on the economic map after they'd been devastated by WWII.

Germans love Konrad Adenauer. He was seventy-three when he was first elected Chancellor, and he held the position for a whopping fourteen years. In 2003, he was voted the "Greatest German of All Time" in a contest on ZDF, a German public broadcast station. The dude even has his face on a commemorative coin.

And you know you're kind of a big deal when your face gets put on a commemorative coin.

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