Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. As the first post-war Chancellor of Germany from 1949 to 1963, he led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that forged close relations with old enemies France and the United States. In his years in power Germany achieved prosperity, democracy, stability and respect. He was the first leader of the Christian Democratic Union, a coalition of Catholics and Protestants that under his leadership became and has since remained the most dominant in the country.
Adenauer, dubbed "Der Alte", 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 market-based liberal democracy and anti-communism. A shrewd politician, Adenauer was deeply committed to a Western-oriented foreign policy and restoring the position of West Germany on the world stage. He worked to restore the West German economy from the destruction of World War II to a central position in Europe, and to rebuild its army and come to terms with France, which made possible the unification of Western Europe. Adenauer opposed rival East Germany and made his nation a member of NATO and a firm ally of the United States.