Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, is a candidate for reelection this month at the age of eighty-one. His re-emergence from obscurity at the war’s end and his reassertion of strength and leadership at an age when most men would be retiring make a remarkable story and one winch has been seen at close hand by TERENCE PRITTIE,the Manchester Guardian’s correspondent at Bonn.
by TERENCE PRITTIE
THE “Adenauer story" has a romance of its own. It is the story — incredible as it may sound to many who have seen the Chancellor in his suave moods in the Bundestag — of a hick-town boy who has made good.
Adenauer, who has had to settle the fates and futures of fifty million Germans, first saw Paris, Washington, and Rome when he was seventy-five years old. For seventy years his career was one of decent mediocrity. He was born on January 5, 1876. Both his parents were of sound but middleclass stock. In 1903 the young Adenauer became a practicing lawyer. In 1906 he was elected a town councilor of his native Cologne. In 1917 he rose to be Lord Mayor, a post which he held for sixteen years and from which he was deposed by the Nazis. For eleven years afterwards he remained in the political background, was twice arrested by the Nazis and twice set free. The stuff which makes underground patriots and partisans was not in him.
In 1945 the American occupation authorities “rediscovered” him and made this worn, precise old man Lord Mayor of Cologne for the second time in his life. Within a few months a British general, Sir Gerald Templer, visited the city and remarked angrily to a subordinate that it was a disgrace that mountains of rubble still blocked every main road in it. Someone, he said, should be thrown out on his ear and another German found who would “get on with the job.” So Dr. Adenauer was sacked for the second time in his life. But by treating Konrad Adenauer in this untoward way the British authorities unintentionally launched him on his real, postdated political career. Within three months of being dismissed Dr. Adenauer had become chairman of the biggest branch of the Christian Democratic Union, and in September, 1949, as leader of the strongest single party, he formed the first Federal Government, with a majority of two votes in the Bundestag. He has been Chancellor ever since.
In 1926 Adenauer had been proposed ns a possible candidate for the Chancellorship but was unable to find sufficient backing to form a government. Rightly or wrongly Adenauer was regarded as a somewhat narrow-minded Rhineland Catholic, and the national-minded German People’s Party (DVP) and the Social Democrats refused him their support. The lesson was not lost on Adenauer, and after the war he refused to re-form the old, constricted, and purely Catholic Center Party. The Christian Democratic Union, he decided, should be interdenominational and no longer bound to the Vatican. It should have the chance of winning followers in the larger, Protestant half of the nation.
Dr. Adenauer’s experience with the occupation authorities might well have resulted in his working against them from then on. He emerged, on the contrary, as the chief protagonist of the “policy of fulfillment” — the policy of reconciliation with the West.
Strangest of all was Dr. Adenauer’s physical renaissance. A lifetime in the humid climate of the Rhineland had left him with a weak chest and bronchitic tendencies. At seventy he appeared to be physically frail. Like his fellows he had too little to eat in those first three post-war years, and the winter of 1946-1947 was one of the bitterest in memory. The Adenauer of those days made a singular impression on me. He moved and spoke with a relaxed grace and restraint, while the mass of his fellow politicians were indulging in hysterics over dismantling denazification and the lack of bread. In the midst of men who spent their time looking for extra rations or getting prematurely drunk at the first “mixed” Allied cocktail parties, Adenauer seemed an obvious choice for the Chancellorship. He preserved in the face of the occupiers of his country a dignity that was virtually unique, thus marking himself out as the best man to deal with them on behalf of his fellow Germans. In them he inspired confidence alike by his refusal to complain about material discomforts and by his steely insistence on getting on with the tasks of political organization. Work and responsibility were making him into a younger, healthier man.
He faced, in office, a task as alive with complications as an eelpot. He had to deal with three sets of Allied authorities and with coalition partners in the Free Democrats and German Party who had views of their own. The first Bundestag was crudely unversed in the ethics of parliamentarianism. The government coalition commanded just 202 out of 402 seats. He had to implement and explain a frighteningly new Federal constitution and inject confidence into a German people who were beset with complexes arising out of Nazism, war, and defeat.
Rather too often, Adenauer is represented as “the man of lonely decisions,” following his own line and scorning advice. Some of his critics maintain that he has not so much sponsored the growth of a new German democracy as invented a “Chancellor democracy” which is all his own. These are only half-truths. Certainly, Adenauer has an ingrained habit of taking advice only from chosen confidants, rather than front the more appropriate officeholders. This habit could well date back to his sixteen years tenure of the mayoralty of Cologne from 1917 to 1933. A Lord Mayor in those days was a potentate and much more important than he is today, when the mayoralty has become an unpaid and “honorary” office. This may partly explain Adenauer’s instinctive authoritarianism. But there is one necessary qualification. Adenauer is a voracious reader and an indefatigable student of history. If his decisions have sometimes seemed to be “lonely,” they have always been tempered by knowledge of past trial and error.
LOOKING through that erratic, patchwork record of German statesmanship since the fall of Bismarck in 1890, one is conscious of one overwhelming national failing. Fortified by a measure of national prosperity and diplomatic success, German statesmen have forgotten a prerequisite of final success —the making and keeping of loyal and solid friends. This has often been put down to an instinctive German arrogance. In fact, it may spring from forgetfulness and inability to see anybody else’s point of view.
Bismarck may have been calculating, but at least he understood the need to gain allies in the diplomatic field and to be able to manipulate the European balance of power. His 1863 convention with Russia safeguarded Prussia’s eastern frontier; he divided Austria from France by playing on their differences over the Italian quest for reunification; he exploited the French project for annexing Belgium in order to keep France and England apart. Each time he went to war he ensured that Prussia had at least one firm ally and that another two of the five powers constituting the Concert of Europe were benevolently neutral.
In this way Prussia was never confronted by more than one enemy in the field, and the wars with Denmark, Austria, and France were stages toward the achievement of German unification under Prussia. Bismarck’s diplomacy was a brilliant essay in Realpolitik; the story of Bismarck’s successors is the story of misplaced finesse and misused talent. Germany was the Golden Boy of the European class in the 1890s, commanding a wealth of admiration but no affection whatever. Authority was entrusted by the Kaiser to social successes who were political nondescripts. The first of these, Caprivi, who was Chancellor from 1890 to 1894, was an unusual combination of Prussian general and political liberal, who toyed with the idea of an alliance with France and England. He passed into rapid oblivion, dimly wondering why his liberal home policies were so sadly out of step with the gathering momentum of German imperialism.
His successor, Prince Hohenlohe, at once reversed his foreign policy. As the former Governor of Alsace-Lorraine, which Germany had annexed from France in 1871, Hohenlohe was obsessed by a fear of the French‘spirit of revenge. But instead of making advances to England to counter this persistent threat, this old and soggy Bavarian aristocrat let the reins of government slip into the clumsy fist of Kaiser Wilhelm II and looked on helplessly while the Kaiser insulted his own uncle, the Prince of Wales and future Edward VII, and frightened British statesmen out of their wits discoursing on the benefits of a German-financed Berlin-to-Baghdad railway. It only remained for the Kaiser to send a telegram of congratulations to President Kruger of the Transvaal (after his thwarting of the Jameson raid) to frighten England into permanent alliance with France.
Another prince, Bernhard von Bülow, who succeeded Hohenlohe in 1900, believed in an Eastern alliance. He intrigued with Czar Nicholas of Russia, who mistrusted him, and rejected a calculated British offer of diplomatic collaboration, while doing nothing to discourage the growth and flourishing of such violently jingoistic organizations as the Pan-German League, the Navy League, and the German Colonial Society.
This inauspicious nobleman was succeeded by a bumbling bureaucrat. Theobald von BethmannHollweg, who was Chancellor from 1909 to 1917, virtually saw the German Empire into its final stages of disgrace and ruin. His eight years in office coincided with the fateful flowering of all those imperial mirages—a Germanic domain stretching from the Kiel Canal to the Black Sea; the union of the two “fighting races,” the Teutons and the Turks, on the Bosphorus; a “German India” and a Germanic Raj in tropical Africa — daydreams which envisaged some sort of world domination by, and for the benefit of, the German people.
Such daydreams never afflicted Konrad Adenauer, who was not, after all, such a young man when the Empire collapsed in the foyers of the smart Spa hotels which were sheltering the Kaiser and his courtiers. But with the Kaiser gone and a republic established, the 1920s should have offered great opportunity for men of originality and character. Instead, strong men appeared, flexed their political muscles, and vanished into a seemingly unavoidable limbo. Most significant were the cases of Rathenau and Stresemann.
Walter Rathenau became Foreign Minister in 1921 and was determined to bring Germany out of her isolation. He wanted to make friends with France and Britain, had a plan to settle reparations and to reform German industrial society. As far as political talent went, he was a golden pheasant among barnyard fowls. But he had a streak of weakness in him. When the Genoa Conference was in session in April, 1922, he allowed the head of the Eastern Section of the Foreign Office, Ugo von Maltzan, to talk him into signing the Treaty of Rapallo with Soviet Russia, thereby forfeiting the trust of the Western powers. Shortly afterwards he was murdered, ironically enough by young nationalists who considered him “too accommodating" to the same Western powers whom he had just seriously frightened and irretrievably antagonized. Not for the first or last time the “Eastern experts” of the Wilhelmstrasse blighted a fair prospect of Germany’s finding firm friends.
Only one man after Rathenau had a reasonable chance of saving Germany from the relentless nationalist revival, for the competent and courageous Heinrich Bruening came too late on the scene to do more than fight a delaying action against the Nazis. That man was Gustav Stresemann, who was Chancellor for a brief hundred days in the summer of 1923, but who then “saw out” five successive Cabinets as Foreign Minister until his death in 1929.
In some ways Stresemann faced a task similar to that which confronted Adenauer twenty-two years later. Parts of Germany were militarily occupied. The French had marched into the Ruhr and virtually blockaded industrial production. Separatism was being sedulously encouraged by French propaganda in the Rhineland. A huge load of reparations hung over the head of the government. The currency was in the grip of monstrous inflationary trends which economists still did not know how to control. German hopes were pinned on this stocky, bulletheaded man whose memory today is enshrined in the soft “Stresemann” hat to which he lent his name.
The German story is that Stresemann died brokenhearted because the Allies would not make the concessions which would have crowned his policies and forced back Nazism. The truth is that in 1924 the Dawes Plan helped to stabilize the financial situation and to defeat the Nazis and nationalists in the November elections. In 1925 the Locarno Pact provided for the first stages of the evacuation of Germany by foreign troops. In 1926 a “respectable” Germany was admitted into the League of Nations, and in 1927 Allied control over German armaments was abolished. In 1929 the Young Plan brought fresh financial aid, and agreements were made for the total withdrawal of British and Belgian garrisons and for the final departure of the French Army by June, 1930. During the six years of Stresemann’s stewardship Germany received over twenty-five billion gold marks in loans and credits, and paid out under eight billion in reparations.
It may he more important to remember of Stresemann that he watched the intrigues of the German General Staff with Soviet Russia complacently, negotiated with Russia himself for a fourth partition of Poland, and discussed with industrialist Hugo Stinnes the potentialities of a Russo-German economic bloc. “Germany’s policy,” he once said, “may be two-sided but it is not double-faced.” He made the same elementary mistake as Rathenau, frightening his Western partners unintentionally and foreshadowing the sterile Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.
THESE examples of German statesmanship must have had a singular impact on Konrad Adenauer. He may have admired Rathenau but mistrusted him, sympathized with Stresemann’s motives but not his methods. But above all, he recognized the cardinal error of Rathenau and Stresemann — namely, their failure to make a single solid friend on whom Germany could rely. In 1949 he set out to rectify that error and bind Western Germany indissolubly into the Western community of nations.
He was given a unique chance by the cold war. This put him on the path which the Western powers were bound to tread — that of consolidating a Western Germany of fifty million people politically, economically, and spiritually and incorporating it in a Western defense system and in a Europe in process of unification. The milestones along this path have been the Petersberg Agreement (for converting the Allied Military Government into a High Commission which administered under the terms of the Occupation Statute), the entry of West Germany into the Coal and Steel Community and the Council of Europe, the Bonn and Paris Agreements which conferred sovereignty and the right to rearm, and German entry into NATO and WEU.
The benefits of these policies are clear. A phase of the Allied occupation has been brought to an end, and one of fruitful coöperation with other nations opened. A great ideal, European Union, has had life breathed into it and may still be realized. France and Germany can now collaborate in the realms of trade and nuclear power as well as coal and steel.
Foreign affairs have pushed Adenauer’s domestic achievements into the background. But here are three of them. The first is that he has held together two successive government coalitions with great firmness, if not always with equivalent tact. Only within the last year has the government coalition begun to crack, but it is arguable whether the departure of the Free Democrats and the BHE Refugee Party was Adenauer’s fault. Germany badly needed strong government in this second attempt to establish a democratic system. The lesson of the 1919-1933 Weimar Republic was that weakness of government encouraged sectionalism and the multiplication of parties, the growing power of pressure groups, and the final advent of Nazism. Under Adenauer effective administration and a more stringent electoral law have brought a decrease in the number of parties represented in Parliament. Only a mathematical miracle could now put a governing coalition at the mercy of some small group representing, say, Bavarian monarchism or the interests of the middle class in the port of Bremen. This year’s election should confirm the trend toward a two-party system, giving added stability and a sense of responsibility to German politics.
Dr. Adenauer’s second, supplementary achievement has been to give portly, cigar-puffing Professor Ludwig Erhard his head as Minister of Economics. Erhard combines tremendous technical ability with an amazing flair. Nothing is more indicative of this flair than his application of a “credit squeeze" before — and not, as in Britain, after—an economic deterioration could set in. He understood that the Germans would, given the chance, work untiringly to raise the standard of living. So he liberalized imports, reduced tariffs, lowered taxation, and offered fresh incent ives at every favorable moment. Hard work may have been the core of the “German economic miracle,” but Erhard has crusted it with his genius.
Adenauer’s third achievement has been to instill, by example, an essential self-control into public life. During the last eight years in Parliament, Adenauer bus once lost his head and twice lost his temper. The first happened when he was on the verge of his dangerous attack of pneumonia in the autumn of 1955. The Saar problem was the cause of each loss of temper—not because of its intricacy, but because of the accusation that he was jettisoning the national interest by agreeing that the Saar should be independent. Once, too, at a banquet he allowed himself to be carried away by the splendors of the Rhenish wines or, more likely, the length of the menu. Otherwise his example has been compelling. A Roman clarity of thought and expression, an old man’s economy of word and gesture, an Olympian calm — these are qualities worth untold riches in any country.
To Adenauer, largely, must be attributed the sobriety of Bundestag debates, the comparative calmness of political campaigning, and the general restraint of the West German press. He has attained his ends so quietly that his example could not fail to be followed. Remembering the pitched battles in the French and Italian chambers, it is remarkable that there has been only one stand-up fight in the Bundestag building in eight years, and one scuffle, in which a former Nazi was thrown out.
Adenauer’s mastery in the Bundestag has to be seen to be believed. German deputies have a tremendous preoccupation with their own affairs. During debates they talk about them, often loudly, and allow their attention to be diverted only in order to catcall at some political opponent. When Adenauer rises to speak there is an instant, hush, due less to the fact that he is Chancellor than to the knowledge that he will speak to the point and stick to the point, and will not waste one word. Famous orators have generally had a fire and fervor about them. Adenauer has none, but each of his sentences is weighed, evaluated, delivered with a deceptive rhythm and gentleness. He has an easy way with interrupters (Renner, of the Communist Party: “The Chancellor has forgotten! He’s seventy-four, anyway, or seventy-five.” Adenauer: “ Herr Renner has a good heart but no head — for figures”). Each speech is a perfect précis in the German language. Each speech is an occasion.
Federal Ministers of State have explained his easy dominance at Cabinet meetings. He has a habit of telling them about their own troubles first, making it unnecessary for them to tell him. And he habitually eats a two-ounce bar of chocolate with an unhurried appreciation. When the chocolate bar is finished, the Cabinet meeting is over. It is no wonder that Ministers have sometimes to be reproved for trying to speak at the same time.
WIT is probably the saving grace of mankind, and it is wit which may give Adenauer his especial balance and tranquillity of mind. Last spring he and his entourage of family and Chancellery officials embarked on Lake Como in northern Italy and were caught in a storm. It was really rough, but Adenauer’s only reference to the wild pitching of the small boat was “This boat is pretty well sprung, I should say.” Last spring, too, the Federal Cabinet was shocked to be told by the Chancellor that the British Government intended to withdraw a substantial part of the British Army of the Rhine from Germany. “Anyway,” Adenauer is reported to have remarked, “it will make it easier to fight to the last Englishman.” Some time back Adenauer was introduced by the British High Commissioner of that “semi-occupation era,” Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, to Field Marshal Montgomery. “Does this chap give you much trouble?” Montgomery asked Adenauer jovially, holding Kirkpatrick’s coat lapel. “Not half as much as I intend giving him" was Adenauer’s answer. He meant it.
Taste, application, and the love of a full life — these seem to me to be among his strongest characteristics. Taste because he appreciates good food and wine, good pictures, has surprised even a distinguished American guest by brewing excellent coffee himself, and cultivates his own roses with the love of a connoisseur. Application because he rises at first light, sits down to a twelveto fourteenhour day in his office, and likes to quote the maxim “Nothing is well done which is half done.”Love of a full life because in the heat of an international conference and a Mediterranean summer, he had to see the Roman Forum during his lunch interval; because he always has time for his many children and grandchildren; because he is instantly interested in a new face, a new book, a new idea.
These three qualities have helped to give Adenauer his remarkable hold over his fellow beings. The present-day German has suffered a revulsion from the cult of flamboyant heroes and Prussian martinets. The Chancellor represents—in the best sense—the bourgeois ideal of discrimination and reason. In May, 1956, a Gallup Poll institute — EMNID of Bielefeld — found that 75 per cent of the German people “recognized his achievements.”The 1955 figure was 73 per cent. On each occasion only 20 per cent thought him a “bad or mediocre Chancellor.”
THERE is and must of course be a debit side to the ledger. Like everyone else Adenauer has his failings. The foremost of these is an authoritarianism which has no connection with the dictatorship cult. It is founded on age, a severe illness last year which left him with a new testiness, and the Roman Catholic belief in the virtues of authority. This autocratic streak has produced unfortunate results. A year ago Adenauer criticized both his Minister of Economies and his Minister of Finance in public. He complained about his Foreign Minister in close proximity to a microphone of the West German Radio Network which had been left tuned in. He allowed Thomas Dehler, former leader of the Free Democrats, to provoke him into a vendetta.
His critics asked that he should decentralize authority and let departments do their own work. “The sad thing.”one West German paper wrote, “is that Dr. Adenauer has more understanding of daily duties and political tactics than of long-term constitutional evolution and the principles which should underlie it.”A Goettingen University professor, Werner Weber, maintained that Adenauer’s authority was so absolute that existing German democracy was his personal creation and would not survive his departure.
Undoubtedly he is autocratic. This quality was demonstrated when he ordered Nazi flags to be removed from the Rhine bridges in 1933 — because they were flying there without his permission. It was demonstrated when he recently ordered all photographs showing him with a crumpled collar or a crooked tie to he called in and destroyed. It has been demonstrated in his surrounding himself with a small band of personal advisers, a respectable camarilla which has served him and Germany well.
When he was ill in the fall of 1955 his sole confidant was State Secretary Hans Globke, who compiled the commentary to the Nuremberg racial decrees of the Nazis. Not even his own Cabinet Ministers were admitted to the sickroom at his Rhoendorf home. When he wants to explore an economic subject, Adenauer goes to Robert Pferdemenges, a Cologne banker. His “moral tutor" is Cardinal Frings of Cologne, his publicity expert the beefy Ernst Bach who once fought in the nationalist Free Corps in the 1920s, The tendency to govern through personal advisers and civil servants is, certainly, common to the whole Western world. But Adenauer may have carried it to an extreme which is offensive in a young democratic state.
There are plenty of people, however, who believe that Adenauer’s autocracy has been carefully calculated in the best interests of the German people. He testified to this himself when he said: “I only hope that, when people can look beyond the fuss and scurry of these times, they will say of me that I did my duty.”
To Adenauer’s failings must be added his failures. Three of the latter are incontestable. No effective measure of social reform has been carried through, although a sweeping revision of old-age pensions was pushed through Parliament in the spring; the Federal Government’s relationship with the Soviet Union, established in September, 1955, has been totally unproductive; no real progress has been made toward German reunification.
How far can Konrad Adenauer personally be blamed for these failures? For the postponement of social reform he can be only partially blamed. For three years he has been fully aware of the need to reform the pension system, which dates back to Bismarck. But he has just been too busy. His Labor Minister, Anton Storch, was not competent to act on his own. Certainly, failure to act more promptly may still cost votes, for the new pension rates are not easy to understand and will not become effective until this fall.
Adenauer’s failure to develop relations with Moscow must he ranked a more serious debit. He returned from Moscow last year much as Disraeli did from the Berlin Congress of 1878 — bringing, apparently, peace with honor. In fact, he granted the diplomatic relations earnestly sought by the Soviet Union in order to carry a stage farther its policy of peaceful coexistence with two German states. He gained nothing in return, for facts show that he would have done better to have left the question of the German prisoners in Russia to the Red Cross, and to have excluded it from the talks in the Kremlin.
Actually he disobeyed his own instincts by going to Moscow at all, and he has not been allowed to retrieve his bad start since then. The Soviet Ambassador to Bonn was used to voice a series of mischievous protests and to intrigue with Ruhr industrialists and opposition politicians. The return of the prisoners was delayed, and some forty German nuclear scientists were kept at their posts on the shores of the Black Sea. Zorin was withdrawn in June, 1956, and not replaced until November of the same year. In Moscow, Dr. Wilhelm Haas from Bonn was cold-shouldered. All this adds up to Adenauer’s one serious setback in the field of foreign affairs.
But the lack of progress toward German reunification is the theme which will dominate this year’s Federal election. Adenauer’s policy in this respect has been crystal-clear. He has backed up to the hilt the Western program for reunification, based on the holding of free all-German elections and the right of a legitimate all-German government to make its own alliances, military and otherwise. The Soviet thesis is equally plain: there should be all-German talks, the formation of an all-German Council which would draw up a constitution, and the retention in a united Germany of “the social achievements of the German Democratic Republic.”
The two approaches are utterly opposed to each other. Yet in June of 1956 the BHE Refugee Party appealed at its Fulda Conference for all-German talks, on condition that East German Deputy Prime Minister Walter Ulbricht and Minister of Justice Hilde Benjamin resign from office. In September the Printers and Paper Trade Union stated its readiness to meet the Communist “Free” German Trade Unions. In September, too, Thomas Dehler of the Free Democratic Party called for direct negotiations between Bonn and Moscow on the subject of reunification. The swing away from Adenauer’s policy was in progress.
The reunification issue has been used in a ruthless way against Adenauer. The activities of Zorin have been twisted into an accusation that the Soviet Ambassador was placed in diplomatic quarantine by the Bonn Government. The new Free Democratic Party chairman, Reinhold Maier, has accused the Chancellor of having a complex about “heathen Berlin” and of preferring a Roman Catholicdominated West German state to a unified Germany in which his predominantly Catholic CDU would be overweighted by a popular front formed out of the East and West German socialist parties. He has been accused of having “missed” the Soviet ofler of March, 1952, amounting to German reunification in return for all-German military neutrality. It is, indeed, painfully true that Adenauer could not have reunified Germany, save on Soviet terms, and that his failure will be used against him in the coming election.
Dr. Adenauer’s critics believe that his latest political failure occurred this spring, when a group of Goettingen University profeasors signed an appeal for the withdrawal of the Federal Republic from NATO’s strategical and tactical nuclear plans, The professors demanded that no nuclear weapons should he manufactured in Germany or handed out to the West German contingents to NATO. They added that it was the duty of a “small state” like Federal Germany to stand aside from the nuclear arms race.
The action of the professors roused Adenauer’s extreme ire, and his press officer put out a statement which was curt to the point of rudeness. Public opinion shifted significantly, and the incident was damaging to Adenauer in spite of the patchedup peace reached with the professors at a subsequent meeting in Bonn. It will take all the Chancellor’s persuasiveness to explain to the German electorate why he would not renounce the right of German contingents to NATO to be armed with nuclear weapons. In truth, this right is an intrinsic part of the “Adenauer formula” for German reunification. German renunciation of nuclear weapons could be a valuable bargaining counter for obtaining Soviet agreement to German reunification on the basis of free elections.
Ahead of Konrad Adenauer looms a challenge. It might seem simply to be the challenge of the coming Federal elections. Certainly, he faces enough difficulties there. The Germans want some sort of political movement, whether it is toward a united Europe in which Germany is a fully entitled member or toward German unity. The Germans do not relish the prospect of rearmament, for the nineteenand twenty-year-olds who will be called up have an understandable horror of force and the drill sergeant. But the Germans are suffering from ennui — that subtle boredom which afflicted the French after 1870 because they had lost a war, and which dogs the Germans because they have not yet won the peace.
The challenge is a big one, and it represents a crisis in German political thinking. Adenauer can be discarded. A new government, unproved and opportunistic, can be put in power. The regeneration of a nation can, by virtue of a slight change in the mood of an unsettled German public, be transformed into a political retreat. This month Konrad Adenauer is fighting a battle on two fronts, at home and abroad. It is essentially a battle to preserve a newly created heritage, and it may well be the most decisive battle of his life.