ADENAUER: A Study in Fortitude by Terence Prittie

ADENAUER: A Study in Fortitude

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Fortitude"" accurately denotes Adenauer's primary characteristic. Prittie describes how young Adenauer stayed up nights studying for exams with his feet in ice water lest he succumb to fatigue. He passed, yet ""one suspects late development in his mental capacities."" And a certain anal cast to his temperament: authoritarian, meticulous, orderly to the point of obsession. After the Kaiser was deposed he cut off the tips of his upturned moustache. When the Nazis kicked him out of his mayoral post in Cologne, Adenauer lay low, without joining either the regime or the resistance. In dealing with the post-World War II years, Prittie emphasizes diplomatic history but understates the degree to which German policy was forged in Washington. Adenauer's rise is ascribed to his strength and tactical genius rather than to the former bureaucrat's willingness to adapt to already formulated polities; Adenauer the tireless administrator is portrayed as an innovator, which he was not. ""He won back full sovereignty for the West German state. . . . He gave the Federal Republic. . . firm friends and allies""; he is likened to Bismarck and congratulated on Germany's postwar recovery. Prittie bypasses the evidence that Germany's NATO friends were its conquerors, that its economic miracle was wrought by Marshall Plan financiers; even its currency and labor laws were dictated. Prittie, a former Manchester Guardian correspondent in Bonn, has fully covered the abundant treaties, negotiations and talks of the postwar years. Adenauer, he says, was overawed by de Gaulle and tended to fall under his influence. An informative but unreliable interpretive study.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1972
Publisher: Regnery