Comments: 5
This sounds like quite an empathetic and readable bio. Does Irving also address Adenauer's attitude to NATO, or rather, the post-WWII developments concerning the formation of the two blocks of power (NATO and Warsaw Pact)?

Having grown up and living in the same area -- Konrad Adenauer's Rhöndorf home was only a few miles from my childhood home, just outside of Bonn -- I'd definitely agree that you couldn't have taken the Catholic Rhinelander out of Konrad Adenauer, however hard you'd have tried. This was *entirely* who and what he was ... everything else came second. In fact, the Adenauer family are still rather influential in the Cologne / Bonn area; both his son and his grandson are / were attorneys with large corporate firms and, of course, well-connected politically (the grandson was a classmate of mine for a while in a bar review class).
markk 3 years ago
Irving addresses NATO within the context of postwar German rehabilitation, but he doesn't really examine Adenauer from the standpoint of the Cold War (the Warsaw Pact isn't even mentioned in the book). I suspect this could have something to do with when the book was written: in 2001, European integration was more relevant than the question of the Cold War. I'm planning on reading another Adenauer biography in the near future; as it's slightly older and more thorough, it will be interesting to compare the two on that point.
That does sound like an interesting comparison, yes -- and frankly, I'm a bit puzzled that (no matter when the book was written) the Warsaw Pact doesn't even rate a mention. The building of the two power blocks was *the* defining issue of West German politics in the 1950s and 1960s, and it was an issue entirely shaped by Adenauer's stance ... to the point that, even almost a decate later, Willy Brandt survived a "no confidence" vote over his own "Ostpolitik", which modified the dogmas formed by Adenauer (without abandoning them), by the narrowest margin (a single vote). I was young at the time, but politically aware enough to remember just *what* a big deal this was in the national political debate. -- I think a case could be made that both of them were right in their approach at the time when they formed their respective politics, and surely even a biographer writing in 2001 could have argued that neither German reunification nor European integration would eventually have been possible without (a) West Germany's joining NATO and (b) a politics of both nuclear deterrence *and* dialogue vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.

Who is the author of the other biography you're looking into?
markk 3 years ago
Irving frames it more in terms of opposition to the Soviet Union than the Warsaw Pact. He definitely addresses the Cold War in those terms, and I think he would agree with you about NATO and West German rehabilitation.

As for the other biography, it's the one Hans-Peter Schwarz wrote in the late 1980s.
Oh, is that available in English? Interesting!