12. August 1950: Germany and a United Europe

By Dr. Konrad Adenauer (Chancellor of the German Federal Republic)

Herr Konrad Adenauer born 1876, Chairman of the C.D.U. (Christian Democrat party) for the British zone. was Mayor of Cologne in 1945 and is the leading C.D.U. personality in the British zone. Is an elusive person and has deep suspicion of socialism and all its works. Became famous when Mayor of Cologne for pro-French, anti-British sympathies, during the twenties. Removed from office by Nazis. Not a Junker, but a Rhinelander with contempt for Prussians. Chosen as West German Federal Chancellor, August 1949. Catholic and Conservative. Lawyer. Hatchet-faced and gimlet-eyed. Became Mayor of Cologne in 1917. Twice arrested by Nazis - in 1934 and 1944. Gave Cologne its „green belt", university, annual trade fair, first German autobahn, great new bridge across Rhine. Was dismissed from his post as Lord Mayor of Cologne in 1945 by British Military Government officer. Reports sometimes refer to „Herr" and sometimes „Doctor" Adenauer. Now lives at Rhoendorf, a little town on the Rhine.

Recent events in the Far East and elsewhere have caused anxiety and fear throughout the world. It is right and proper that we should be troubled by these happenings. It would be wrong, however, if we permitted them to distract our minds from the positive elements of the Situation.

In recent years, and particularly in this year of 1950, great constructive steps have been taken and are being taken, which may some day be considered more important than the crises that now worry us. This is particularly true of the movement for European integration, which has found tangible expression in the Council of Europe.

Five years after the end of hostilities, Germany, is now joining the family of European nations assembled at Strasbourg. The Federal Government greatly welcomed and readily accepted the invitation extended to it by the Committee of Ministers.

The Bundestag and the Bundesrat, with decisive majorities, approved this decision of the Government. Even among those deputies, who for reasons of their own, voted against Germany's entry into the Consultative Assembly, the great majority is European-minded and ready to co-operate loyally in the great endeavour that has been started at Strasbourg.

Both the Federal Government and the Opposition hope, of course, that Germany will soon attain the status of a full and equal member of the Council of Europe.

The Federal Government could not work as actively and whole-heartedly for the goal of a United Europe; if it were not supported and encouraged by German public opinion.

The European idea is not new to Germany, which had preserved the universalist conception of the Middle Ages longer than many other nations, and which had embraced nationalism later.

After the first world war, strong movements for European unity emerged in the Weimar Republic. Today the desire for European Integration is stronger than ever in Germany, especially among the youth, which has had to pay so dearly in blood and tears for a nationalistic heresy.

Youthful hopes

The Federal Government is determined to do everything in its power so that the hopes of its youth for a free and united Europe shall not be in vain.

We Germans particularly welcome the choice of Strasbourg as the seat of the Council of Europe. For centuries this beautiful old city has been the object of bitter feuds and bloody fighting between Frenchmen and Germans.

From now on, it shall be the symbol of their reconciliation and co-operation, and the common meeting-place for the representatives of all the nations of Europe.

I say advisedly „all the nations of Europe" because I feel confident that some day, when they are free to do so, the nations now lying behind the Iron Curtain will come to join the Community to which by culture and tradition they belong.

I am equally certain that the day will come when all Germany will be part of a United Europe, as indeed it is in spirit even now. In the meantime, the representatives of the Federal Government itself will act as trustees for that part of the German nation still held in bondage.

Germany enters the Council of Europe with the ardent desire to promote all efforts towards the strengthening and the perfection of the institutions now established at Strasbourg.

We hope that the requirement of unanimity in the Committee of Ministers will be abolished, and that the Consultative Assembly will acquire real legislative power. Only in this fashion can the European States be welded together sufficiently to act in unison. It was with this development in mind that the framers of the German Basic Law inserted Article 24, which provides that „the. Federation can, through law, transfer sovereign rights to international institutions." We do not dread such a development; on the contrary we wish to promote it.

Willing to help

The great majority of Germans have, through sufferings and bitter experience, learned to realise that Europe must unite or perish. The great French soldier and statesman, Marshall Lyautey, once said that a war between European nations is a civil war.

Nor can we afford to seek economic salvations isolated from one another. The attempt to do so would merely lead to confusion and chaos. Our American friends, who have often proved better Europeans than ourselves, are urging us. to unite in our own interests as well as in theirs.

They are willing, at great sacrifice to themselves, to help us build a house spacious enough for all of us to live in. They are not willing to support a dozen or more European nationalisms. We cannot afford to disregard their advice.

Least of all can we afford to overlook the dangers threatening us from the East and from the subversive forces of Communism, which thrive on the disunity and confusion of its victims. These forces will win only if the free nations of Europe fail to unite. It is up to us whether they shall achieve their purpose.

I feel confident that the nations and statesmen of Europe will meet this challenge. Germany, I am sure, will not be found wanting.

Quelle: Daily Mail 12. August 1950