"Adenauer was the main reason for the success of the FRG." To what extent do you agree with this statement in relation to the period 1949-63?

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It wasn't the main reason

  • Economic miracle

Where the FRG came from

  • The division of Germany
  • When it split


His election successes were in 1949, 1953, 1957 and 1961

1949 - Coalition government with members of the FDP and DP.. 31%

1953 - Gained more votes but remained in coalition.. 45.2%

1957 - His popularity grew incredibly.. 50.2%

1961 - Votes fell to 45.2%

Adenauer performed an extraordinary juggling act with respect to the Nazi past. On the one hand, Adenauer was highly concious of the impact of the Nazi past on the views of Germany among the international community, but also of the financial and practical needs of the West German populace. For Adenauer, the appallingly misnamed policy of Wiedergutmachung, of restitutions and 'reparations' to the survivors of Nazi brutality, was always closely linked to the reputation of Germany in the eyes of the international community. Adenauer made a famous speech to the Bundestag in 1951.

In this speech, Adenauer hit the moral high ground by taking responsibility for compensation, while not yielding an inch on the question of real guilt. The 'vast majority'  of the 'German people' were simply exonerated; crimes 'were committed', but not apparently by anyone; and Germans retained the right to balance their own need to care for the war victims and refugees, who had suffered as a result of the war unleashed by Germany, against responsibilities to the survivors among their millions of victims. Moreover, when in 1953 the extent of German compensation to be paid to the state of Israel was announced, it was widely held - particularly by right-wing critics of Adenauer - to be extremely generous.

At precisely the same time - or rather, even earlier and even faster - very active efforts were made to reintegrate former Nazis in to the new West German state.  By the late 1940s denazification measures had become almost meaningless. An article of the constitution was brought into effect as Law 131 in 1951, giving former Nazi civil servants the right to reinstatement in their former jobs or equivalent jobs, if they had lost their positions through denazification, and also gave them full pension entitlement for the period of service to the Nazi state. Adenauer integrated former Nazis at high levels in his governments, including, for example, Hans Globke as his own personal advisor - who had drafted the official commentary on the Nuremberg race laws of 1935.

As West German historian Norbert Frei has shown, the Nazi past was not in fact swept away or 'forgotten about' in some form of 'collective amnesia' during the Adenauer period; rather, it was actively addressed in the sense of ensuring that few former Nazis would need to feel any shame or fear of retribution to their misdeeds in the recent past.

There was a vast continuity in personnel between the judiciary, the university elites, and the civil service who had served Hitler, and those who served Adenauer. It was only in 1958 that…


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