At noon on May 5, 1955, the Federal Republic of Germany became a sovereign state. As the flag was raised at the Schaumburg Palace, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who would have preferred to mark the occasion with a ceremony in the Bundestag, said: “We stand as free men among free men, as partners of our former occupiers. . . . There is only one place for us in this world: on the side of the free peoples.”
This article examines the amazing transformation of the Federal Republic of Germany between 1949 and 1955: from occupied nation to ally of the West and of the West's dominant power, the United States. This metamorphosis has been described, with good reason, as one of the greatest successes of American foreign policy. The present account first considers the most important stages of this process of change, then goes on to examine the mechanisms and instruments that brought it about, of which the most important was the determination of the United States to win the confidence of the West German people.
enemies become friends: the united states and the federal republic, 1949-1955
German-American relations in the years 1949-55 passed through two stages of development. The first, which must also be seen as the key phase in the transition from occupation to alliance, lasted from the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949 to the signing of the General Treaty and the treaty establishing the European Defense Community (EDC) in May 1952. The second stage, comprising the years 1953-5, was most notable for the unusually close personal cooperation between Adenauer, the new American president Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles.