Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer (German pronunciation: [ˈkɔnʁaːt ˈhɛɐman ˈjoːzɛf ˈaːdənaʊɐ]; 5 January 1876 – 19 April 1967) was a German statesman who took Germany from the ruins of World War II to the most powerful nation in Europe. He was the first chancellor (top official) of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, called West Germany), 1949–63. He was the founder and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), a coalition of Catholics and Protestants that since 1946 has generally dominated German politics. A devout Catholic, he belied his age as the oldest elected leader in world history by his intense work habits and his uncanny political instinct. He displayed a strong dedication to a broad vision of democracy, capitalism, and anti-Communism. A stern patriarch and shrewd politician, Adenauer was deeply committed to the traditional values of Christianity and pursued a single-mindedly Western-oriented foreign policy. He restored the West Germany economy to dominance in Europe, rebuilt its army, came to terms with France, helped establish European unity, fought relentlessly against the Communists in rival East Germany, made his nation a pillar of NATO and a firm ally of the United States and commenced the long process of reconciliation with the Jewish people and Israel after the Holocaust. He brought Germany prosperity, democracy, stability and respect. To a large extent Adenauer’s policies still dominate Germany.
Although his political career spanned sixty years, beginning as early as 1906, he is most noted for his role as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (then known as West Germany) from 1949–1963 and chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1950 to 1966. He was the oldest chancellor ever to serve Germany, beginning his first ministry at the age of 73 and leaving at the age of 87. His 14-year tenure was the second-longest for a German Chancellor (behind Otto von Bismarck) until Helmut Kohl passed him in 1996.
As a Catholic Centre Party politician in the Weimar Republic, he served as Mayor of Cologne (1917–1933) and president of the Prussian State Council (1922–1933). As such he was one of the most prominent politicians of interwar Prussia and a leading democratic adversary of Prime Minister Otto Braun.