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State funeral of Konrad Adenauer in 1967: coffin in Cologne Cathedral

State funeral of Konrad Adenauer in 1967: coffin in Cologne Cathedral
Source: dpa

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Founding father

Konrad Adenauer dies on 19 April 1967 in Rhöndorf near Bonn. The often wilful decisions of the "Old Man" have been decisive in shaping the young republic. His funeral is also a very unique affair: exceptionally, a Pontifical Mass in Cologne Cathedral and a river cortege. The whole event costs five million marks.

Konrad Adenauer (born 5 January 1876, died 19 April 1967)

Like his father, Konrad Adenauer chooses a legal career and studies law at various universities. Member of the Catholic-oriented Centre Party, he rises to Mayor of Cologne in 1917, but is suspended by the National Socialists in 1933 and faces repeated difficulties and constraints.

With the end of the war, the Allies reappoint him as Oberbürgermeister of Cologne but, having fallen out with the British Military Government, he is sacked and banned again from political activity until December 1945.

He then relaunches his political career in the Rhineland CDU, which he has joined after the war. As a member of the first (appointed) state assembly, the Landtag, he becomes chairman of the CDU parliamentary group.

When the first ever federal election is held in 1949, the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) win the most votes, and Adenauer becomes federal chancellor. He remains the head of government for another 14 years, not leaving until the age of 87.

Adenauer, like no other politician, determines the direction of the young republic: integration of the FRG into the western alliance, reconciliation with France, initiation of dialogue with Israel.

The Federal Republic achieves greater sovereignty. Tending to take decisions alone, Adenauer is, however, criticised for his leadership style, especially when he pushes through his policy on rearmament and the FRG's new army, the Bundeswehr.

Dirk Bitzer

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