Chancellor of Germany Writes an Introduction for This Special Issue
by Konrad Adenauer 1954
When I first learned that the editors of LIFE were preparing this special
issue on Germany and were attempting, even within the necessarily
limited scope of several dozen pages, to bring the American
people into a closer understanding of some aspects of my country, I
was most heartened. For in these tense times, when America and
Germany find themselves, after a long period of war and enforced mis
understanding,facing a common danger and the same crisis of survival,
it is imperative that they know one another. For the times are indeed
perilous and the forces which would divide us most persistent.
I have before me an Atlas of World History, published in Germany
in 1953. Its maps show the territorial changes which have come from
historic developments, especially from wars [see Struggle to Become
a Nation, p. 14]. It shows, much more directly than does written history,
where tensions on this globe have led to catastrophes. For, after
all, every war is basically a catastrophe.
It is a book which gives rise to serious thought. The maps show
alarmingly how freedom in Europe is being pushed back farther and
farther by the colossus of Russian Communism. That area of the
Europe-Asia land mass in which freedom still prevails has become
frighteningly small in Europe since Russia's power reached the Elbe.
hancellor of Germany Writes an Introduction for This Special Issue
The maps show another thing with convincing clarity: the stillfree
peoples of the world can deter the advance of Communism only
by a dam, mutually erected by them all.
Germany stands in the center of this dam. If this center does not
resist every Communist pressure, there wIll be no haltmg the Communist
flood. It will sweep over the whole of Europe.
The task of Germany-her historic task-is to help build this dam.
She has become aware of this task. Germany knows what it means to
be a Russian satellite, and she knows that the occidental culture
which has flowered on a Christian foundation must be saved [Resurgence
of German Faith by Bishop Hanns Lilje, p. 115].
Every European ought to know what it means to live in a satellite
state. Then he would know that the little sovereignty he must sacrifice
to construct this European dam is nothing in comparison to what
he will lose if the flood rolls on. And he would certainly know that
for Europe as a whole as well as for every individual European
country there is only an either/or: either the Eu~opean countries
join together to form one unity or they will perish. There is no
third alternative [A European Year of Destiny, p. 166]. The integration
of Europe is the goal of our time.
When talking recently to a statesman who is a friend of me, I
encountered the view that Germany is striving for European Defense
Community and European Payments Union so ardently because she
does not yet have a peace treaty and is hoping to get one in this way.
I told him that he had a total misconception of the situation and of
Germany's sentiments. I could think of other ways by which Germany
could obtain a peace treaty. But what would a peace treaty
benefit Germany if Europe became Russian?
We in Germany have other great tasks to fulfill as well: repair of
war damage is one. Despite everything that has already been done
[Germany Is Bustin' Out All Over, p. 28], this damage is still incred·
ibly great. We still need 3.9 million housing units; w~ hav~ war vic-
tims to care for' we must create and secure an economic basis for two
million refugees from the Soviet zone [Burden of Refugees from the
East, p. 154]; 600,000 children live in public homes, and another
500,000 must be cared for from public funds. Meanwhile the birth
rate is decreasing. '
We have relatively few unemployed, but, as a consequence of the
war and of the inflation which followed it, our industries have no
capital to carry out the necessary restoration or to accumulate reserves
for periods of economic recession.
In the sphere of intellectual and cultural work [A New Look at Old
Gottingen 'University, p. 69] we have by no means yet overcome the
consequences of the National Socialist era and of the war during
which intellectual work was held in low esteem.
The greatest of all internal tasks confronting us is reunification
with that part of Germany which lies in the Soviet zone [Fun and
Building in the Other Germany; p. 44] and in the territories now
being administered by Poland. We wish to achieve this reunification
by political means, not by force. On the day when this will have
been accomplished, this area will have to be completely and newly
developed and repopulated. This task will absorb the entire economic
and intellectual potential of our republic for a long time to come.
Within the framework of this article I can only sketch th.e broad
outlines of Germany's tasks. But those in other countries who oppose
EDC on the ground that Germany will necessarily play a leading part
in it should stop and take an unprejudiced look at the manifold tasks
which will keep Germany busy at home. They will then aaree with
me when I say that in the next decades Germany will surcly find it
difficult enough to keep pace with the other nations united in EDC
and EPU-much less, as Marshal Juin believes, entertain the idea of
playing a leading role.
It seems to me that all comparisons of the strength of individual
nations today ignore the actual problems. We believe that peace in a
community of neighbors will not be guaranteed by the relative weakness
of Germany or of any other nation-but instead that it is the
mutual integration and coordination of plans and goals, even of defense
forces [On the Edge of the Iron Curtain with the Border Guard,
p. 36] which will render a war between the partners of a European
Defense Community not only senseless but impossible.
Let me add here a special word about that great nation which geography
has made our nearest neighbor in the West: the French. Without
both the outer and inner consolidation of Germany, without a German
contribution to the dam which will protect us all, there is no possibility
for France to preserve her own freedom and her own culture.
At all times of history there have been pacts and alliances. The
development of weapons-if one can still call the atom and hydrogen
bombs weapons-forces the nations of the world to seek a way which
will give security to all. Germany supports all endeavors to reach
this goal. The Germans have seen war in all its atrocity in their own
country. Never before in their long history have the German people
had. such a yearning for peace, peace for all, as in these times. They
desire to serve this cause from a deep and honest conviction, from
an inner feeling of obligation.
So much, then, for the tasks we Germans have set ourselves, and
for the intentions which inspire us. What now of our common future?
despite our endeavors in this atomic age, is a general conflict
really inevitable? I personally have the confidence that it is not.
I hope now as before that in the course of time the Soviet Union
will realize she is not being threatened by other nations. America and
her allies have told the Russian politicians that in Berlin, and they
will emphasize It agam at Geneva. We should bear in mind that the
Soviet Union, too, is confronted with urgent economic and social
problems, and that to solve them she needs peace. For this reason we
may hope that the Soviet Union will one day negotiate with a united
West to achieve an honorable nwdus vivendi for us all.
But when will this "one day" be? Naturally, we all desire that it
may come soon. However, the day will not be tomorrow. In the meantime,
while our world experiences deep tensions, we free nations must
keep our nerves steadier than ever ami this will only be possible if we
overcome our fears. We shall accomplish this to the extent that we
feel strong, and we shall be strong if we stand together.
And what will come then? I believe in the following: once the present
crisis has long been overcome, then the desired community of the
West will continue to exist as a living example of practical good neighborliness,
at first only in the West but in time possibly throughout
the world; We have the right and the duty to establish this allegiance,
not only now for the purpose of mutual defense, but also in the future-
and indeed for all time for the mutual promotion of those
goals which make life worth living. Only in peace can man develop
his personality in freedom. Only a free personality can continue to
develop in service to himself, to his loved ones, and strive for a fuller
life, for a deeper belief in his God.
These thoughts may seem lofty and all too encompassing, but one
will forgive a man who is no longer young when he visualizes world
historical developments which perhaps reach beyond his own span
of life. All of us, whether young or old, have the right to strive for
these possibilities, provided we have the courage to plan and to work
for them. Our desires for the coming years and for the next generation
begin with what we do today.
In his introduction Chancellor Adenauer, preoccupied with unifying
Europe and rebuilding his country, has concentrated on West Germany.
Like Dr. Adenauer we also have focused on West Germany, touching on
East Germany only briefly for the sake of comparison. And instead of the
familiar Berlin ofspies and rubble which LIFE readers know well, we show
its role in the leadership of German art.
What the chancellor has given us is a high-level tour through his nation
and, as the page references show, through this issue from page 14 to
page 192. But as a serious man amidst serious events he could not be
expected to talk about another bigpart ofGerman life: havingfun. Indeed,
the Germans take theirfun pretty seriously too-or at least energetically,
on motorcycles (p. 67), at parties (p. 186), at the dinner table (p. 82).