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Speech by Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of the Federal Republic, at a Reception Given by the Allied High Commissioners (September 21, 1949)

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It is the unshakable wish of the new Federal Government first and foremost to tackle the great social problems. The Government is convinced that a sound political entity can only develop when each individual is assured a maximum of economic opportunity to earn a livelihood. Not until we succeed in converting the flotsam millions of refugees into settled inhabitants by providing them with housing and adequate opportunities for work will we be able to enjoy inner stability in Germany. Disorder and crises in this part of Europe, however, constitute a serious threat to the security of the entire continent. For this reason, the social program of the Federal Government should at the same time act to ensure a peaceful development in Europe. We will, of course, do everything in our power to master these problems with the forces at our command. Nevertheless, I feel I am justified in believing even now that the problem of expellees is not only a national, but an international one. To solve it, the help of the rest of the world is needed. The Federal Government would, therefore, welcome it greatly if the members of the High Commission would urge their governments to devote in future more attention to this problem.

If we want to establish peace in Europe, we can in the view of the Federal Government achieve this only by working along entirely new methods. We see opportunities to do so in the efforts for a European federation which has just borne its first fruits [at] Strasbourg. We do believe, however, that such a federation will only have vitality if built on close economic cooperation among the nations. The organization created by the Marshall Plan represents a good start in this direction. Germany is fully ready to cooperate responsibly in this regard. We see another opening for creating a positive and viable European federation in the hope that the control of the Ruhr region would cease to be a unilateral arrangement and that it would gradually grow into an organism which would embrace the basic industries of other European countries as well. We are certain that the narrow nationalistic conception of the states as it prevailed in the 19th and early 20th centuries may now be said to be overcome. This conception gave birth to nationalism, with its attendant splintering of life in Europe. If we now turn back to the sources of our European civilization, born of Christianity, then we cannot fail to succeed in restoring the unity of European life in all fields of endeavor. This is the sole effective assurance for maintaining peace.

Source: Speech by Konrad Adenauer, Chancellor of the Federal Republic, at a Reception Given by the Allied High Commissioners (September 21, 1949), in United States Department of State, Germany 1947-1949: The Story in Documents. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1950, p. 321; reprinted in Beata Ruhm von Oppen, ed., Documents on Germany under Occupation, 1945-1954. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1955, pp. 417-19.

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