The first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who stood at the head of
the newly-formed state from 1949-63, changed the face of post-war German and
European history more than any other individual.
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 the six years from 1949-55 Adenauer realised far-reaching foreign policy goals
to bind Germany’s future with 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 reconciliation with France. Together with French President
Charles de Gaulle a historic turning point 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.